Face-Down, In Need of Forgiveness

The voice that came out of my mouth did not seem to be my own.

“YOU AND YOU ARE OUT OF HERE!  FOLLOW ME,” I bellowed as I flung the classroom door open, leaving my students in my churning anger wake.

As I tromped down the hallway toward the office, leading these two young men to their doom, I had a moment of clarity.  Thank goodness the boys were behind me and couldn’t see me almost giggle.

What was I doing?  I wondered, as I led them down the hallway and dropped them off with the principal.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I do think that my middle school students can behave with a certain level of maturity, but I knew that my tantrum wasn’t really going to fix anything.  And in the searing moment of my thirst-quenching anger, I didn’t even recognize myself.

In my attempts to get this class back on track, I had come up empty one too many times, so I grasped for control the only remaining way I knew how.  I yelled and threw my hands up, asserting my volume and “power” with toddler-like finality.  Anyone who disagreed could just get out.

I might have giggled in embarrassment on the walk to the office, but I cried in shame on the drive home from work.  How could I have let things get so out of control?  Didn’t I know better?

Apparently on this day, I didn’t.  And at the end of the day I needed forgiveness for stepping into the easier path that I knew to be wrong.

It’s hard to remember in these moments, when we’re face-down in a pile of the mess that we’ve made, that the failure we feel is not the failure we are.  Quite the opposite.  This turning, this repentance is a sign of the deep goodness within all of us, this “made in the image of God” part of us that can’t be eclipsed by our bad behavior.

In these moments when I want to dissolve in a puddle, the turning gives me hope for the loving mystery that I cannot, no matter how hard I try, understand.  These face-down moments, while terrible, are also weirdly comforting.  I am reminded, yet again, that it is not my job to have everything together, to never screw up.  God’s got that covered.  And for that, I say thanks.

“I will tell of the LORD’s unfailing love.  I will praise the LORD for all he has done.” (Isaiah 63:7)

Today’s Thanks:
Catching a free T-Shirt at the Husker baseball game
Scheduling summer activities
A stack of pink books that somehow look like art
T-Ball giggles

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