I have an amazing gift for screwing up, and I’m especially good at misidentifying words. Yeah, I’m the writer that once saw the word flagellate and somehow worked flatulate into the context.
Weaving my literary tapestries, I must frequently check and double check that my words say what I intend. I practice reading sentences, formatting them in my head to ensure I understand correctly. But even so, stuff happens.
Not long ago, I wrote a lovely piece inspired by a quote. As I tweaked the media in the document, my last step before posting, I suddenly realized I’d incorrectly committed the message to memory from the start. I had read one word wrong, resulting with wrong imagery.
I had keyed the quote from the book exactly as it read, exactly how it was printed – and yet in my mind that one word was entirely different. But only in my mind. Days later I noticed how that one word changed my whole story line. Metaphorically speaking that one word changed a waterfall into a lawn sprinkler, for cryin’ out loud.
Once I realized what I’d done, I literally did cry out loud, “[colorful expletive!] Really? God, what’s wrong with me?!”
Maybe God spoke. I’m not sure, but I remembered – yet again – I’m a whole new brand of special. My brain doesn’t work like everyone else’s, or anyone else’s I know for that matter.
Health care professionals can diagnose and define all they want, but I learned ages ago I must approach some areas of life differently, like reading, writing and sometimes speaking. I’ve practiced this my whole life, and developed a workable regime. Once in a great while I will be late. I may need to rework a few projects, but I’ll eventually get them as I want them, in good time – or close enough to call it.
And yet, there I was, an hour from my self-imposed deadline, I stepped away from my desk, made some tea and walked a bit. Still wanting to cry from frustration, I had a chat with God.
In that conversation I remembered, it’s not the first time I had to tweak an entire article a degree or so. And if I must trash it and start something new it won’t be the first time for that either. And then it dawned on me I haven’t done this sort of goof in a very long time – possibly years. At least not an instance that lasted more than a minute – and those are always entertaining; no harm no foul.
Strangely, as I worked to clear my mind, the image of a toddler learning to walk came to me.
In nano-seconds I recalled how my firstborn, Iain began walking at nine months of age. Motherly pride quickly gave way to exhaustion. By ten months he loved to run – urging anyone to get him. With so many monstrous end tables, door jams and thresholds lurking around… Suffice it to say abstinence of stimulants was mandatory. I now recall developing a fondness for wine as Iain found his sea legs.
Already bigger than most two-year-olds, Iain was remarkably fast; often too fast. Despite his adorable pudgy bulk he was also remarkably agile. Still, when he stumbled and fell there was often blood shed. Fortunately, being the first of his generation, a host of doting aunts and uncles were usually handy to entertain – and spot him.
Among my fondest memories is my two brothers developing an obstacle course for Iain in the grassy yard behind the house. They set out a cardboard box to crawl through, a lawn chair cushion to pounce upon, a coiled garden hose turned into a tunnel and such. In no time Iain wore them down, and yet they both patiently kept close guard while the toddler squealed and bounced along with delight, rosy cheeks glowing in the patchy sunshine beneath the orange tree.
Iain couldn’t get more than a foot from both men, but I’m certain in his mind he was footloose and fancy free. Entirely forgetting his nearby sentries he ran, crawled, stooped, rolled and toddled until finally he sat down.
I doubt I’ll ever forget the image of the three of them sitting quietly, backs against the tree trunk until Iain’s head slid slowly onto Seagh’s lap, sound asleep. Or that these were the same guys that would catch farts in their hands to release them in my face. Don’t get me started on other things they taught my sons…
Peaceful, calm assurance restored, I wiped my eyes and got back to my desk. The rework actually went remarkably well and I posted the story
in a record five hours later than I’d planned that day.
I sometimes imagine Father God like my brothers in that scenario. As we grow into the various stages of our lives, we often go so fast, too fast sometimes and want to run before we master walking. He gives us healthy obstacles to challenge us and yet, He is always close enough to stop us from running into harm’s way.
Sure, bad things happen. We all fall sometimes and occasionally face harsh consequences after landing. Especially when the pressure’s on it’s good to remember that despite the bumps and bruises, no matter the scars or how deep the wound is, for those who know and trust Jesus, the cross has made us flawless.*
“For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:3-5 (NLT)
*I do not own the rights to Flawless, MercyMe. No copyright infringement was intended in the making of this video.