I Messed Up

I messed up.

That’s the title of this post.

I feel like I’ve been walking around wearing that title on a special tee shirt while reading that title as front page news and drinking my coffee out of a cup emblazoned with that title.

I messed up.

I don’t want to title this post this way any more than I’d want to wear that shirt, read that paper or drink from that cup. I made a mistake that I’m mad at myself for making. I think most everyone else has moved on by now, but not me. I’m still loading up the laundry pile because who knows that I won’t have to wear that shirt with this title on it again tomorrow.

Things turned out. They generally do. No one was hurt. My little mistake caused nothing really more than fleeting frustration. I apologized where I needed to apologize. I did what was within my power to do to rectify the situation. I am surrounded by gracious, loving people who have kind hearts and understanding minds.

But still…turn out as it may have…I messed up.

It’s been a tough season for me. I could lay out all my complaints…an aching back, an anxious mind, doubt, weight gain, prayers answered differently than I requested, prayers answered in ways I don’t prefer, hard conversations with my kids about the world they’re growing up in….it’s all mixed in with good stuff. It’s all mixed in with time with my family, conversations with my husband who I am so glad I get to talk to, trips, completed projects, opportunities, a job that I love, creative challenges, sweet frineds, vacation plans, a tax return. It’s all mixed together, the ups and the downs.

2017, that was a year of ups. 2018, that was a year of downs. 2019, ups and downs swirl together without respect to a timeline or a linear storyline, or much that makes the what will come next easily recognizable. The thing that is helpful though is that I wrote things down in 2017. And I wrote things down in 2018. I’m writing things down now that will help me in 2020.

This time last year I was thinking about Peter, the water walking wave watcher. The story is familiar. Peter sees Jesus out on the waves and says “Jesus, if it is you, call me and I will come to you!” Jesus calls and Peter walks. On water. For a little bit anyway, before he begins to sink.

When I was younger I remember proudly thinking of myself like Peter here and thinking “Well, at least I got out of the boat!” Last year I’d gotten out of the boat and walked until the water was ankle deep and on the rise. No amount of atta-boy for not staying in the boat was encouraging me, though. I read the story a few times til I saw something that I wrote down in my journal that I needed to hear this year. Here..you read it…

“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Peter got out of the boat. Peter walked on the boat. Then PETER MESSED UP. Immediately when Peter asked for help, Jesus saved him. Jesus was honest about how Peter ended up in the situation. There in the middle of a miracle, close enough that Jesus was an arm’s length away, Peter doubted and Peter messed up. Isn’t that the whole point of the story?

I think…maybe…not.

After Jesus asks Peter why he doubted, there is a period and a space. Something happened there. The writer doesn’t say “Immediately the wind stopped.” He wrote, “. And when they climbed in the boat, the wind died down.” That doesn’t read to me like Jesus rushed Peter back to the boat before that sack of potatoes dragged him down, too.

I can almost imagine that in between the period and the “And when,” maybe Peter answered that question. A whisper to his Savior, drowned out by that gale, lost to the other disciples in the boat, “Oh, Jesus, I don’t know why I doubted. You were so close. I was so sure I could make it to you. But the wind. And the waves.”

Jesus and Peter walked comfortably back to the boat…still…in…the…storm. We know that Jesus could calm the wind and waves, but here he did not until they were back in the boat. The disciples worshiped him, in the very next verse we read,

“When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.”

The next thing Jesus did…was he moved on. He went to the next thing. He did more miracles. He didn’t sit there and rub Peter’s nose in it. He didn’t bring it back up later to make sure Peter knew what he thought he did wrong. Jesus moved on, and he took Peter along with him.

In a lot of ways over the past few years, I’ve been walking an arm’s length away from Jesus, one foot after another in the middle of a miracle. Oh, there is so much that resonates with me about Peter’s aquatic amble. I step up atop a wave, life’s ups. I step one foot further and it breaks the surface, splashing my socks, life’s downs

Do you know what I mean? If it helps you to think to yourself, at least I got out of the boat, please, think on that. Because that’s a perfectly fine lesson. But if you’re where I’ve been for a minute, wishing your high water jeans were capris instead, think of how kind Jesus was to Peter, to speak truth, to walk easily back to the boat in the storm and to move on.

It’s a good example he set for us.

As for me, as I write this, I am so thankful for the active imagination God gave me. I am standing between that period and the “And when they climbed back in the boat.” I am there on the water and Jesus has my hand. “Sarah, you of little faith. Why did you doubt?”

There is no accusation in his voice. I remember something he said once about even the tiniest amount of faith, the faith of a mustard seed….I step up and catch my breath as my eyes turn back to his. “Walk with me, Sarah.”

“Jesus,” I begin, “I messed up.”


2 thoughts on “I Messed Up

  1. Never thought about Peter walking back to the boat with Jesus. But that does seem to suggest that’s what happened.


  2. This has been helpful to me. This story came to mind recently. People often think that Peter doubted, and that that was a bad thing. That if Peter had really had enough faith, that he wouldn’t have looked down and sank. I think of this story as that there was no other way except to go down and pass through. We use the term, “keep your head above water.” Sometimes, you can’t. You have to go under and pass through. Sometimes doubt is indicative of parts of our souls that God hasn’t yet gotten to. Our failures and disappointments take us deeper, but then we can come up n the other side, more steady and stable. I think of Isaiah 43: “Fear not for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you, and through the rivers they will not overwhelm you. You shall walk through fire and not be burned.”

    On a secular note, I heard someone say thing week, “life is a gentle teacher, she will give you the same lesson until you learn it.”


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