I didn't like the accordion; I wanted to play the guitar, but my mother was a fan of the 1950's TV icon, Lawrence Welk and she thought I should learn to play like him, not Elvis Presley. So for 3 years I endured accordion lessons and by default learned to play a few hymns, a polka, and some simple Christmas songs, much to my mother's satisfaction.
Then came the infamous night of the Boy Scout Talent Show; I was third on the program, decked out in my scouting shirt and cap, no less. The song listed next to my name was "Lady of Spain" and I knew it by heart.
"Ronnie Rose is up next with his accordion. Here he is, the next Lawrence Welk."
I hated that introduction. I waited a moment, praying for an earthquake. Finally I pushed myself out into that lonely, glaring light, and without thinking, commanded my 5th grade fingers to hit that keyboard running. They obeyed, but launched into the song from the wrong starting place. It was horrible... all wrong. Instead of stopping, owning the mistake, and starting over, I surged ahead trying to find my place as I went along. Actually I think I got the last part of the song right. It was way beyond embarrassing.
I quit that night.
For several weeks, I blamed my mother, the accordion, the lighting, the announcer, the song, the program, and the two girls back stage. It took months for me to finally own up, to admit it was my doing, my bad, and my fault. One night God and I had a little one-on-one about it, but I still never played the accordion in public again.
Jesus followers learn how to own up; they discover, early on, that holding grudges and blaming others for personal mess-ups is a dead end burden that drains passion and power from life. And along the way they discover the liberation that comes from surrendering the "blame card." Faith encourages us to stand up and admit mess-ups. This confession, by the way, is life in the deep end. God lives there.
It hurts to mess up, to fail, to make the big mistakes, and God doesn't take the pain away, or keep us from failing in the future. He just loves us anyway. From the beginning he took us "as is" and he keeps doing it, over and over.
The parenting class was over. It had been a good series and the evaluations were very positive. I was still celebrating the success when I walked into the house. The girls were totally out of control. They were screaming at each other, blaming each other for some lousy stain on a sweater, slamming doors and throwing stuff at each other. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing. Here I was fresh from teaching people how to parent, and I had kids that were totally out of control.
I yelled, "Stop it, right now! We don't talk to each other like that in this house."
"But Dad...‚"came the reply.
"Hush, not another word," I demanded.
I blasted. I separated them, condemned them, blamed them, and grounded them. I was furious and they were in tears.
When I finally walked into the kitchen my wife asked, "Did the class not go well?"
"Did you hear them? I can't believe you let that happen." My focus shifted to her.
"Well Mr. Parent Educator, they were practicing a skit for church."
Those words hung in the air like flashing red lights in the rear view mirror. I was devastated. My first reaction was anger at my wife for not interrupting my rant, but I had been so worked up she really didn't have a chance to intervene.
It was my bad. Guilt and remorse overwhelmed me. There was only one thing to do, only one.
When I got to the bedroom door, I knocked and asked if I could come in:
Girls, I feel horrible, I judged you, I hurt you, I messed up big time! All I can say is that I love you and I really hope you will forgive me. And I would be honored if you would pray for me and ask God to forgive me for the way I treated you tonight.God showed up that night!
With hugs and more tears, they did. Oh, one wanted a new car and the other asked for more allowance.
God showed up that night and left his fingerprints on all of us.
Two truths will shape the first week of the new year for you.
- God takes you "as is," mistakes and mess-ups and all. It takes faith to accept that. Stand on it and celebrate it.
- When it comes time to knock on that door, totally surrender the "blame card," own up, and ask for forgiveness.
Then, wait for it, wait, even though you are in deep water, feel it, that's solid ground.
Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with (James 5:16 MSG).