Pageant of Mistakes: No Winners

Love the heart, not the mistakes.
Love the heart, not the mistakes.

I believe the most involuntary of all pageants would have to be the Pageant of Mistakes.  You don’t put yourself in it — other people do.  Consequently, everyone and their cousin seem to be self-appointed judges.  But don’t worry, no one ever wins.

I get so tired with people picking apart others.  “So-and-so has a bad past, don’t hang out with them.”  “What’s-their-face does things that look bad — you don’t need to be seen around them.”  “That one person doesn’t seem quite up to your standards.”   And the judgments continue, on and on.

I understand looking out for your family or best friends.  I understand wanting the best for the people you care about, which includes the best person to do life with them.   I understand all of that.  I do.  But what I don’t think most people understand is: if you expect a perfect person according to whatever fantasy “ideal list” you have created in your mind, you will always be disappointed — no matter what.  And guess what?  Your loved ones (and YOU) are imperfect, too!

I’m not saying that people should just settle for what or who comes along.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have a list of attributes you look for in someone.  I’m not saying that it’s wrong to give your opinion of someone who is pursuing someone you care about.

I’m simply saying that you are imperfect, your family members are imperfect, your friends are imperfect, and every other single person you meet is imperfect.  That imperfection is perfectly fine, though.  Two imperfect people can have a perfectly wonderful love story.  In fact, a lot do, just ask your grandparents.

There comes a time in life when you just have to say about the person you love, “I know what you’ve done and all the mistakes you have made, but I love you without hesitation.  You’re not perfect, and neither am I.  That’s why we’re perfect for each other — we know what it’s like to live through mistakes and we have learned our lessons.”

When you really, really love someone, you don’t notice their flaws as much.  You just simply want to love them.  That’s how Jesus looks at us.  That’s how Jesus always saw people.  He made friends with prostitutes, murderers, liars, adulterers, etc.  Guess what?  He didn’t sit there and tell others to shy away from one another because of all the sin He saw in each person He encountered.  Instead, He looked at the heart of the person and loved them more than they could imagine.

Jesus, well, He’s my role-model on how to love people.  He just so happens to be the one teaching me daily what it’s like to see someone for who they are, not necessarily what they have done.  He is the true judge of the Pageant of Mistakes, and His judgment is simply:  “I have taken the crown of thorns to cover any and all mistakes you have and will make.  You are all disqualified from the pageant of mistakes.  Instead, I invite you into My kingdom.  All of you are sons and daughters of the Most High King.  You do not belong in a pageant for a crown — you were already crowned with grace and love for your birthright.  You are royal by birth into My family.  THAT makes you perfectly Mine.  Be loving, be humble, and act like the co-heir that our Father made you.”

That’s the way I want to see the people I meet, the people I see regularly, and even the people who irritate me.  I want to seem them through the eyes of the man who loves them so much that He wore a crown of thorns and took the place of their mistakes for them.  I want to see and love like Jesus.  You should, too.


This Person: Advice to Myself

Don't stand at the horizon and look back -- look forward.
Don’t stand at the horizon and look back — look forward.

There’s comes a time when you realize you aren’t sure what happened to your old habits, old characteristics — and you miss them.  The good ones, anyway.
You miss…YOU.

I used to think everyone was inherently good.  I used to never tell secrets because I grew up realizing that people are never as trustworthy was you want them to be.  I used to want to help people no matter if they were rude to me, nice to me, or seemingly worthless individuals.  I used to guard my heart so well that I could never get broken — but that came with a price.  I used to say what I thought because I had innocent, naïve, loving thoughts.  I used to welcome anyone and everyone as a new friend.  I used to go after whatever I loved, whether I was good at it or not.  I used to chase joy instead of reputation.

When did I become someone who forgot these things?  Someone who lives differently, and loves selectively.
I’ve become vulnerable, but for the wrong reasons and to the wrong people.  I forgot how much I know that trusting someone wholeheartedly is a great risk, reserved only for ones I know are worth the risk.  I became someone who doesn’t always use words kindly.  I have become a person who is no longer all inclusive to others; someone who runs from others as soon as they offend or hurt me.  I’ve become someone who chases a “good reputation” and lives in fear of doing anything that might “look bad,” rather than chasing joy and delighting in my freedom.

My advice to myself?
Love inclusively.
Trust carefully.
Search for the good in someone until you find it.
Forgive always.
Help whenever you see a need.
Use your words kindly.
Never fear.
Chase after joy.
Be bold enough to embrace failure.
Be true to God.
Dream big.  And bigger.
Be free.
Pray harder.
Never give up hope.

The truth is, sometimes I just don’t know what kind of person I’m becoming.  The person my parents are proud of?  The person my friends are entertained by?  The person chasing after success?  The person afraid of truly going after her dreams?  The person who looks good on paper?  Or the person doing all she can to become who she wants to be — not who her world and the people in it are trying to make her into?
For now, I’m going to take my own advice and see what happens.  After all, the one person you know you can trust is yourself.

I Don’t Have This — Thank God!

Holding my one day old little step-niece, Stormie Elizabeth.
Holding my one day old little step-niece, Stormie Elizabeth.

It amazes me who and what God uses to talk to us when we aren’t listening to His direct words.

I’ve been internally lamenting and externally whining to God about circumstances I don’t particularly enjoy as of late.

Well, God used my new baby step-niece to talk to me, to show me what I needed to know from Him:  He’s got this.  Good thing, too, because I sure don’t.

We are babies to God.  We are His children.  He loves us more than we can imagine.  He created us, saved us, and takes care of us.  Our problems are not too big for Him, and we are not lost in His big, big world.

As I was holding my day old baby step-niece, Miss Stormie Elizabeth, I would sing to her when she got fussy, assure her that everything is okay, and tell her to just go ahead and cry if she wanted.  She would quiet down quickly.

That’s me and God.  He’s holding me in His arms and I’ve just been crying and whining — being a fussy baby.  He keeps telling me over and over again that everything is okay, that He has me.  He keeps letting me cry to Him until I’m satisfied that I’ve been heard and my problems are taken care of.  And, with every single day I get a new lullaby from Him  — the sound of someone precious telling me they love me, the chirp of crickets as I sit in my bedroom in our country home, the sound of my sister laugh, and everything in between.

The thing is, Baby Stormie can’t fathom how much I love her or how much her mommy loves her or any of us.  But, she can feel that love.  She can feel arms that hold her and rock her.  She can see smiling faces.  She can hear the sincerity in our voices, the patience, the tenderness as we talk to her.  She can feel the fingers that she wraps her hands around.  She can feel when a hand pats her back to burp her after a feeding.  She can feel that she’s being taken care of, and that’s what makes her quiet down after being fussy.

I can feel my God taking care of me, so I know I don’t have to be fussy with Him.  I can feel the grace He keeps lavishing on my heart.  I can see all of the blessings He is putting in my life left and right.   I can hear His Word speak through people around me and even through something as simple as the car radio.  I can feel that He is taking care of all of my needs — immediate and otherwise.

There’s no sense in being fussy.  God loves His babies.  He hears me and He’s taking care of it.  I just have to let Him.