we mess upMistakes. We all make them. And when we do, we could all use a tender response for when we mess up. Last week, I huffed out of a store after a store clerk rudely blew off my product question. I needed time to regroup. I had been to the store three times in three days with five different people helping me and was beyond frustrated with the service. Sigh. Gulp.

The next morning, I read this timely piece by writer David Roper, and realized I could have responded with more kindness to the store employee. The young man asked me as I marched out the door, “Did we solve everything for you?” I was miffed and ignored his question. After reading David’s article, I am contemplating a trip back to the store to apologize. I hope David’s experience with making a crucial mistake is of encouragement to you too.

Reflections on Messing Up

When I was in college, I worked a summer on a ranch in Colorado. One evening, tired and hungry after a long day of mowing hay, I drove the tractor into the yard. Acting like the hot shot that I thought I was, I cranked the steering wheel hard left, stamped on the left brake, and spun the tractor around.

The sickle was down and swept the legs out from under a 500-gallon gasoline tank standing nearby. The tank hit the ground with a resounding boom, the seams split, and all the gasoline spewed out.

The rancher stood nearby surveying the scene.

I got off the tractor, stammered an apology, and—because it was the first thing that popped into my mind—offered to work the rest of the summer without pay.

The old rancher stared at the wreckage for a moment and turned toward the house. “Let’sgo have dinner,” he drawled.

A scrap of story Jesus told passed through my mind—a story about a young man who had done a terrible thing: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you,” he cried. He intended to add, “Make me like one of your hired servants,” but before he could get all the words out of his mouth his father interrupted him. In essence, he said, “Let’s go have dinner” (Luke 15:17-24).

Cleaning Up the Mess

Do you need to go have dinner (or breakfast, lunch, or coffee) with someone who messed up this week? Or did you mess up and need someone to “go have dinner” with you? Either way, extend grace. Extend forgiveness. To others. To yourself.

Mistakes. We all make them. And when we do, thank God that He gently responds to us like a tender-hearted rancher who knows forgiveness and restoring the relationship is always more important that fixating on the offense. Now . . . pass the potatoes, please.

“Putting Up Hay,” David H. Roper, Our Daily Bread, November 27, 2018