Growing up, my standard answer to any question or statement an adult, sibling, friend or relative might have posed was, “I know”. Even when I had no idea what they were talking about, I pretended I did. In church, I was the kid on the front row with her hand raised for ALL of the questions and the same could be said for my classes. For years I have wondered about why I felt the need to be right, to have all of the answers. I reached my teens with the intent to change this tendency. No more would I be the know-it-all, I would be the know-most-of-it-all. Better, right? People began to expect me to have the right answer, especially since I was so ready to voice my opinion. I had an opinion and was willing to be the first to share. Willing, that is, until I started competing in speech and debate tournaments that took me all over the country, bringing me into contact with some of the most brilliant minds of my generation on the face of this planet and realized: I have no clue what I am talking about. I was thrown into conversations about the legalization of drugs, the impact of the Arab Spring, how the election of Barack Obama would affect the economy and the working class and I learned that Tonga was NOT somewhere in the middle of Africa. I learned to research my opinions before voicing them, giving careful consideration to what I said. In the beginning, I just listened to my friends banter and argue. Their wit was so advanced I was lost before the punch line ever appeared on the horizon of the conversation. Gradually, I became accustomed to their form of humor and how they structured their arguments and started developing my own opinions to throw into the ring.
These conversations gave me a reason to research my more basic assumptions, fine-tuning what I believed, and bringing me back to the place of examining my motivation. Why do I speak, write, or teach? Why do I feel the need to make my voice heard? Why do I still feel a sense of wanting to always get the answer right? I failed my microeconomics CLEP test by 3 points. What? It took me a month and a half to recover enough gumption to take another test.
After time spent listening to the heart of God and long moments of self-examination, I pondered this character trait of mine. Is it wrong to want to always be right? I had realized that I could not possibly know everything; but, what I couldn’t get around was how as Christians, we are supposed to be the ones with all of the answers. I was in a conversation one day with an older gentleman and we were discussing (almost to the point of debating) the topic of abortion and he brought up an argument that blindsided me. I sat and just looked at him. In that moment, I didn’t have the answer and had to admit such to both him and myself. I went home and mulled over his point until I found the answer that had really been staring me in the face all along. When I saw him next, what had impressed him the most was not in the fact that I knew what I was talking about, but in how I had admitted that I didn’t know something. This encounter brought me back to the feet of my Father and a thought occurred to me: it is ok to get it wrong. To a perfectionist, that is like nails on a chalkboard. What do you mean get it wrong? Other people get it wrong, we are supposed to be getting it right! I had to wrap my mind around the fact that God does not expect us to get it right the very first time and every time after that, so why would I expect it of myself? Suddenly, the pressure I had been putting on myself to have the answers was wiped away. All of my questions and assumptions were answered with devastating simplicity: grace.
As a child of God, I am called to walk in wisdom, set apart for righteousness, but He died so that when I fall, I can stand again. There are days when I feel like I am tripping over the same stupid stone, failing the same test time and again. There are other days when I feel overwhelmed with the amount of responsibility I owe to my future and all that it holds. On both of these kinds of days, God reminds me of what grace looks like. It looks like my Mom forgiving the same mistakes and loving us through our failures. It looks like my Dad, pulling his projects through to completion and still taking time to guide and teach us. It looks like my sister when she walks in and sees the disorder on my side of the room and chooses to smile and move on. It looks like my grandmother bringing dinner over, knowing that it would have been left overs if she hadn’t. It looks like my brothers wrestling and rough housing but the instant one of them gets hurt, the others see to it that the pain doesn’t last longer than a moment.
Grace is a characteristic of God and if we let it, will make a place in our lives. Grace covers when we get it wrong and equips us for when we get it right.