The summer after my freshman year in high school I stuck a suction cup to my forehead and couldn’t get it off. It came from one of those Nerf basketball goals, the kind you’re supposed to stick to a window. After awhile, though, windows lose their magic. Don’t ask me why I stuck it to my forehead. It’s a long a story about a unicorn and the circus that wouldn’t seem nearly as funny now as it did then.
Suffice it to say that once the joke had run its course, I tried to yank the thing off and almost scalped myself. It wasn’t budging. If I’d thought about it, I would have gently pried it loose from the side, but instead, I panicked. I gave it one last, solid tug and popped it right off. It hurt like fire, but at least I was free.
Unfortunately, it left a giant hickey, as purple as an eggplant, right in the middle of my forehead. I looked like a cyclops. The next day I ran into a girl I liked, and when she asked me what happened, I tried to pass it off as a weight lifting accident. I might as well have told her I got it during Navy SEAL training or riding in a rodeo. Anything manly and dangerous would have worked.
Somehow, though, I don’t think she bought it. I don’t think anyone bought it even though I spent the next week trying to sell the phony weight lifting story to everyone I knew. I just didn’t want to look stupid, but in retrospect I suppose that option had never been on the table.
The point is that we all do dumb things. Granted, that percentage is probably significantly higher among fourteen year old boys. But what is it about many of us that drives us to make excuses, minimize our weaknesses or downright lie just so we don’t look foolish?
We all want to be seen as competent, mature people, but sometimes the fact is, we’re just not. Not only are we not perfect, sometimes we make big mistakes or destructive choices.
It makes me think of Adam and Eve trying to hide from God after they’d eaten the fruit in the garden. Quick, Eve, duck behind the rock. He’ll never find us back there. Right. Good luck with that.
The fact is people who are truly mature and competent freely admit their failures. I’ve been astounded over the years to meet people who speak candidly about the times they’ve blown it. These are the kind of people who are the first to admit their mistakes and take responsibility for their actions. They are painfully honest about their sin and perfectly content to not be good at everything.
What’s the deal with people like this? Where does this kind of freedom come from? It comes from a supreme confidence in knowing there is a God who loves them no matter what they’ve done. It comes from having their identity rooted in the fact that they’re made by Him for Him. It comes from knowing there is really only one opinion that counts.
If I could suction cup that truth to my head, it would certainly leave a mark, a mark of grace. This grace is the stuff that draws us from our hiding places and sets us free to live our lives as the authentic people God made us to be.