“To truly obtain freedom from our mistakes, we must own them. These mistakes must be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the forefront of our consciousness and expelled into the clear air. Mistakes can take many forms, ranging from the smallest error to the most unconscionable failure. In two of the most important segments of our lives — work and relationships –, a single mistake is sometimes all it takes to wind up on the scrap heap of failure.” Dr. Henry Cloud
Allow me the freedom to paraphrase in the language of EB Ministries. WE MUST EMBRACE OUR BROKENNESS! Dr. Cloud nailed it.
Unless we’re willing to take on our failures with the same vigor we exude in devouring the choicest cut of filet mignon, we are doomed to repeat them.
What do I mean when I say embrace our brokenness?
It’s story time.
How broken would you have to be to find yourself sitting in a Federal courtroom, at 38 years of age, awaiting sentencing on charges of mail and wire fraud connected to a guilty plea entered 5 years prior? Having turned a blind eye to fraudulent activity, perpetrated by your partner, in a business that had made millions of dollars legitimately but had begun failing due to market conditions. How broken would you have to be – willing to do just about anything to make a buck and hold on to a dying dream that had, for many years, put hundreds of thousands of dollars in your pocket? All this happening as you stood by with your head in the sand. – I submit to you – pretty darn broken.
Was I broken because it didn’t work out the way I had hoped or broken because I realized how much I had walked away from my core values and decided that eating of the fruits served up at the “world’s table” was a better option? I’d say a little of both.
Thread number 2. I grew up in a home and with a father that demanded I be the best that I can be. No exceptions. I played little league baseball all the way through Division 3 College ball. I was a decent athlete, usually hitting 3rd or 4th in the lineup, playing 1st base or pitching. As if it happened yesterday, I remember a particular event, around the age of 16. It was epic. I threw a one-hitter. No walks. I even got the hit that drove the 1st run in eventually winning the game 7-0. That may have been one of my finest moments in baseball. I was stoked. Even got my name in headlines the next day. After the game, I got in the car with my parents and my girlfriend expecting to continue the celebration at our favorite ice cream joint.
In a moment of silence between the smiles and high fives my father, in true dad fashion, said, “if it weren’t for that one hit you gave up – it would have been a perfect game”. I was stunned.
Do you understand the devastating message this sent to my young brain? As men, we don’t have to be reminded of the question that haunts us throughout our entire lives.
Do I have what it takes? To make it in this world? To be everything that I can be?
So why in the world might I be standing in front of a Federal Judge, facing the prospects of a 2-3-year jail sentence? The answer might be surprising to you. The reality of the world we live in drives most of us to get our needs met through a standard that is unreachable. We seek to be validated in the wrong way and in the wrong places. What was only intended to come from our Creator, our core longings met in Him, we chase after in the most dysfunctional ways.
It’s not about behavior – It’s about belonging
My desire for significance was all about reaching the standard held in highest regard in the world we live in. Money, prestige, and power. If I could build up the equity on my balance sheet or be known for the size of my corner office – on the 18th floor of the Atlantic Building in downtown Philly lined with glass walls and southeast views that rival most I’ve ever seen – then I’ve arrived. At least until the next opportunity for a higher floor and an even loftier salary. Then maybe, just maybe I can rest in being as significant as I need to be to prove my worth, to myself and my father. Or anyone else that may be looking. Now that’s just crazy.
We live in a world that wars for our very soul. An enemy that wants to subdue our very being. The Being that God uniquely crafted to be all that He created us to be – not how the world defines us.
Freedom from our mistakes comes from the freedom to fail – the freedom that comes when we embrace our brokenness. God does not look upon us as the world does. He looks upon us with a love that most human beings are incapable of grasping. It’s understandable that we would pursue our own agenda in this broken state, but the bondage we live in sends us to the “scrap heap”, as Dr. Cloud describes it.
What if we took a different path? Trusted Jesus to walk with us? The Holy Spirit to guide us and our Father to direct us – every step of the way. To meet every longing of our soul. We don’t have to prove a thing. In fact, there’s nothing to prove. The world’s standard of people pleasing and performance is no standard at all. It’s unattainable, unsustainable.
My dad, who I’ll see again in eternity, was broken as was his father and his father before him. Our earthly fathers can never model what our Heavenly Father intends for us. It’s not possible.
I had to suffer the consequence of eating at the wrong table. Mistakes aren’t free from penalty. It ultimately cost me my freedom, but it was the beginning of a healing journey that’s lasted a lifetime. I wouldn’t trade that failure, under any circumstance, for the freedom I now have to walk out this life in my true-identity. As a Child of God – Restored in Him – Embracing My Brokenness.