Last weekend my husband and I attended the baptism of our friend’s son. The service was held at a beautiful Catholic church surrounded by lush gardens and buildings with high-vaulted ceilings. Daniel and I arrived early (a phenomenon that is new to me since getting married), and we decided to explore the grounds a bit before the service started.
At one point I looked over my shoulder and noticed that the priest was following us and discreetly trying to get my attention. He was offering pointed looks in Daniel’s direction, but I couldn’t seem to catch his meaning. Finally he got bolder and motioned right toward Daniel’s derriere.
My first thought was, Yes, he does have a nice butt. But that just didn’t seem like the kind of thing you say to a priest.
Finally he came closer and whispered to me, “Um, I think you should take that off his pants.”
I looked down, and sure enough, there was the fresh-from-the-store sticker running right down the backside of Daniel’s corduroys. Awkwardness abounded.
Once I stopped giggling long enough to remove said sticker, it hit me that sometimes awkward is the best thing that can happen to us. Isn’t it better to have someone correct you gently—and early on—than to keep going through the day with a sticker on your behind? Whoever said that ignorance is bliss obviously never looked in the mirror to find spinach lodged between their teeth or their skirt tucked into their tights.
On a spiritual level, the same is true. We desperately need the very thing we dread most—the moment of correction.
When God holds up the mirror to us and shows us where we’re falling short, it immediately brings a flush of shame to our cheeks. But wouldn’t we rather have it that way? Better for God to point us in the right direction now, while we can still peel off the sticker. Before we do any more permanent damage.
Jeremiah voiced a similar sentiment about God’s correction:
I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
We are not able to plan our own course.
So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle.
Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.
What I love about the prophet’s description here is the way he describes God’s correction as coming from a place of gentleness, not anger. Not unlike that kindhearted priest, perhaps.
Whether you find yourself on the giving end or the receiving end of correction at the moment, don’t be scared to walk straight into the gentle awkwardness. It’s the only way for us to get right again.
But the next time you leave the house, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone check your backside, just in case.
I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.