“Mommmm,” Jake declared, “you’re doing it all wrong!”
Jake was informing me in no uncertain terms that he was not happy with me. Not happy at all. In fact, Jake let me know that he was annoyed with me.
He even said so: “Mom, you are so annoying.”
The one thing I most appreciate about my second-born, autistic son is that I never have to guess what he is thinking. I never have to mind-read. I never have to pull, prod, or push for information.
Jake tells me.
What was I doing wrong???
It was what I wasn’t doing.
I had asked Jake to perform a task on his computer – something Jake doesn’t feel particularly confident about – and so Jake wanted me to understand that my direction and encouragement of him was faulty. What Jake wanted was for me to do the task for him – to save him from being the one from making a mistake or failing in some way.
This is one of Jake’s biggest worries and concerns. In Jake’s school life, family life, and social life, Jake has no desire to make mistakes. So much so, that trying new things, doing hard work, and taking risks are significant challenges for him. He would prefer not to try, than to fail.
No matter how many times John and I give Jake something new to do, Jake pushes back and lists reason upon reason upon reason why he shouldn’t have to do the ‘said’ task.
What Jake realizes though he is that he has a stubborn, I’m-coming-right-back-at-you-but-I’m-going-to-be-with-you-and-I’m-not-giving-up-on-you Mom.
So, what happened?
Jake performed the task.
He didn’t break the computer.
He didn’t make a mistake.
He didn’t fail.
He accomplished what I asked of him.
He would be the first to tell you, though, that he wasn’t happy about it.
But, what I believe all of the stubborn, I’m-coming-right-back-at-you-but-I’m-going-to-be-with-you-and-I’m-not-giving-up-on-you moms and dads in the world desire our children and Jake to know is that mistakes, failures, and mess-ups offer up amazingly good, but sometimes painful life-affirming lessons.
Mess-ups may even explode in our faces.
We say something we wish we hadn’t.
We try a new recipe and it stinks – literally.
We forget to follow-through on something really important to someone we love.
We don’t speak up and say what we need.
We do the opposite – we say way toooooooo much – and wish we had stayed silent.
We strike out at a new job.
We binge eat because we’re stressed and freaked out of our minds.
We buy another pair of shoes that we really didn’t need.
We make assumptions about our neighbors.
We send emails without checking for errors.
Or we fail to answer and reply to our emails in a timely manner.
We judge our extended family.
We rebuff assistance because we think we can accomplish almost anything – all by ourselves.
We fill our day with so much activity that we have no time for self-care or soul-care.
We fill our day with so much activity that we have no time or space for anyone else either.
We take a risky, scary step towards beginning a relationship and in time, we realize that we’re disappointed and let down.
We fail our friend when she needed us most.
We were insensitive and unkind.
We spent so much time on social media that the rest of the day is lost. Where did the day go, anyway?
And, alas, we also are prone to forget about Jesus at times, too.
Instead of starting our day with Jesus, considering Him, engaging with Him, offering our love and obedience to Him, and remembering that He is a present, I’m-coming-right-for-you-and-I’m-going-to-be-with-you-I’m-not-giving-up-on-you Friend, Guide, and Confidant, we jump into our day and leave Him behind.
It’s not like we mean for it to happen. It just does.
Because we are prone to making mistakes, messing up, and failing in our lives.
We are perfectly-imperfect.
And yet, that perfectly-imperfect nature of ours never, ever, ever stopped Jesus from loving us and ultimately reaching out his arms of compassion, mercy and grace to die for us.
He bore every mistake, every failure, every misstep, every shame, and every-I-wish-hadn’t-done-that regret upon Himself. Jesus knew we would have moments, days, seasons, and maybe even year upon year when we walked our own way and did our own thing without considering Him. He knew we would have people calling us out and saying, “You’re doing it all wrong!”
Jesus still invites us near.
He still offers Himself.
His example still inspires and encourages:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Yes, dear friends, consider Him.
Consider Jesus Christ.
Be aware of His living, affirming, I’m-with-you-all-the-way, voice.
This is the hope I have not only for my son, Jake, but for me, too. For as Jake attempts new things and even makes mistakes in the process, Jake can be assured of not only my encouraging support and presence, but of his Savior Jesus Christ’s as well. There are lessons to be learned from the mistakes Jake makes. I need to embrace this truth, too.
Do I make mistakes?
Just ask me how many mistakes, missteps, and failings I commit in a day!
Do I fail others?
Do I forget to follow-through?
Do I take on way too much in one day?
Do I worry?
Believe me, I am perfectly-imperfect.
Thus, as I exhort and encourage my son to consider Jesus in his day – I am doing the same for myself.
I consider all of the faults, flubs, and foibles that Jesus bore on the cross because of me – because of Jake – and yes, because of us all.
And, yet, Jesus is not put off by any of our perfectly-imperfect ways.
He invites us nearer still and asks us to fix our eyes, our hearts, and our minds upon Him as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
Shall we take that bold, faith-filled step in considering Christ and His love for us as we live out our day – even if we make a mistake along the way?
Let’s remember that Jesus is for us.
He has so much to share with us – even about those things we do all wrong – may we pause to listen and consider Him.