I believe I was in high school when it happened. My mom was going to make stew for dinner. Knowing I'd seen her do this many times, I thought that while she was at work, I would get it done for her. And so I coated the meat, browned it, added the vegetables and water, and waited for it to thicken and turn into the comfort food my mom lovingly made for years. If you've never made stew, in order to make it thicken, you coat the meat in flour. FLOUR. White, powdery flour. Not having put away all the ingredients by the time she walked in the door, she looked at the countertop and asked me why the powdered sugar was out. POWDERED SUGAR, not flour. In my defense, it was white powder, it was in an unlabeled mason jar, and I used it. Needless to say, we did not eat the stew.
I could also tell the "7 Layer Jello Salad" story. I use the word 'layer' very loosely.....just like the salad was very loosely held together and looked more like tie dye soup. Then there was the Andes Candies Cake-like Dessert that was missing the second stick of butter. And while I am sure I have more stories like this I've probably blocked them permanently from memory.
But here's the thing. I didn't let those things stop me from learning how to make the things I do make well like lasagna, meatloaf, sloppy jo's, meatballs, sauce, stuffing, or candied carrots. I was determined to not let past failure keep me from experiencing success in the future.
However, there are places in my life where I have let the past dictate what I am or am not willing to try again in the present and future. Because when there is risk of failure in the kitchen, you can immediately rectify it with another food. When there is risk of failure that breaks your heart, that is not such an easy fix.
Being an introvert by nature, it's difficult to put yourself out there in the hope that you'll be accepted and liked just for who you are, not what you bring to the mix. I've never been the life of the party, I would rather curl up in a corner than be the center of attention, and I will not join a group of friends in conversation if I wasn't there at the start. There are people I haven't even friend requested on facebook for fear they will not accept or won't remember me. True story.
But here's the thing. I'm not called to live this way. Jesus knew He was going to be rejected, specifically by the people He came to save. He knew Judas would sell Him out, Peter would deny Him, Thomas would doubt Him, and Paul would persecute Him. But none of that stopped Him from reaching out to love others and love them well. And from my own story, I can say that He passionately and lovingly pursued me until I could no longer deny that my need of Him was greater than my fear of rejection by Him. Because when you look in the mirror and see all the mistakes, failures, shortcomings, and blunders, it's hard to believe that even Jesus could love the hot mess you see reflected.
It's not easy to put yourself on the line when you are risking your feelings being trampled, but the reward of sweet communion when it is reciprocated makes your heart swell. On this amazing Sabbath Day, as you head out to church and hear the Gospel proclaimed, go in with the expectation and knowledge that Jesus is not only waiting for you, but He is bursting with joy to see and spend time with you. Let Him in to all those broken and fractured places, the homes of past mistakes, and let Him make you whole again so that you can be His hands and feet to others like yourself.
Jesus, more than anything we want to see ourselves as You see us ~ forgiven, worthy, valuable. Help us to truly believe that Your love for us is unconditional and that through Your Spirit we can overcome our past and move boldly into the future You have planned for us. In Your precious and redeeming name, amen.