A chance encounter at a local service and convenience store, got me thinking about the hard lessons we learn in life. A young man had dropped his straw at the soda fountain. When I leaned down to help him, I noticed he had a cast on his arm. Though he insisted he didn’t need help, we fell into conversation. He described in detail the break in his arm and hand. Thinking he was in his late teens, I asked him what he had done to his arm that caused the break. I was anticipating a story about a football injury or some other sporting related cause.
Instead, he ruthfully explained that he had broken up with his fiancee. In the midst of the break up he got into a fight and broke another man’s jaw. Then in frustration he had hit his hand on a brick wall. I asked him what he had learned from all of that. He thought for a minute and then he answered, “I learned not to break up with my fiancee and not to go drinking if I do. I learned not to get into a fight and not to break someone’s jaw.”
I hope when my young friend looks back in life, he will see how he chose to take responsibility for his mistakes and his resolve not to make the same ones again. I pray that it is a turning point in the way that he lives his life. As I pulled out of the gas station, I thought of the life lessons this young man was figuring out. We learn from our mistakes. We learn the most from the ones which cause us pain and haunt our sleep. Wisdom is recognizing the path we are heading on will only lead to destruction, heartache and more sorrow. Making a decision to change direction is a gift God gives us, one God leads us to and then journey’s with us in. The marvel of God’s compassion is that even our mistakes can add beauty to our lives.
I’ve been out taking pictures of this fall’s abundant color. The odd thing about a tree is the difference an up close look at the reds and oranges can make. Some of the deepest reds look old and marred until sunlight breaks through. Almost magically, beauty hidden from one’s eyes is revealed in translucent glory. Like our own lives . . . Yesterday’s mistakes become part of the tapestry of our lives. Given over to God, God weaves them into our lives. Weaves them in such a way, that we not only learn from our mistakes, but become a giver of grace when another is going through their own painful learning moments. In God’s hands, scars of past mistakes are transformed into compassion, forgiveness and an understanding heart. There really are no perfect people in this world . . . just fallible human beings, all in the need of grace.