The Teaching of a Typo

My husband sent me an email last week to say that he liked my blog post. About halfway into his complement, he gently asked me about a typographical error in my post. I had already discovered one mistake earlier that morning, about a nanosecond after I hit publish. Agh! I hate it when that happens. It was funny to me how indirect my husband was in pointing out my blunder. He knows me well.

He knows that a mistake is not easily tolerated or forgotten. In truth, the typos bother me long after the post. I thought about this all day, trying to figure out what my problem really was. I started with fine sounding logic, couched in concern for others. After all, my post was serious in nature. I would not want to cause people to trip over my stupid mistakes. Then I went through the mental list of defenses. Oh, and I have some really good reasons for being distracted. Like the pint-sized would-be-firefighter I live with; my son with his fiery red hair and the stereotypical personality to match. His wail sends shock waves through my entire system. When I hear him start to stir upstairs, I know my time is up. Better proofread and hit send now before you get him, because he doesn’t do sitting down or quiet. I have mistakenly tried to finish a post with him in the room, and it is not pretty. It’s not good for my health either. I fear we both run the risk of losing more than a complete thought.

What is really going on here, I wondered. Why am I raking myself over the coals over a few minor mistakes? I asked the Lord about this as I tried to shake the nagging feeling following me around. I knew the answer, deep down. I just had to get to the bottom of the junk obscuring the truth. I didn’t want to look like a dummy.  There, I said it. This was really about what I looked like to others.

This connected in my mind to something I recently discussed with a friend. Well, actually she is a counselor too. She was telling me about how shame works. It is human nature to deflect any actions or experiences that cause us to feel shame. Nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than putting yourself out there before others. I know I am not alone in that. It is pretty much universal with everyone.

That’s why we fight hard to avoid that place. You know, the place where we look like a dummy. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, right? Well, sometimes that fear of getting it right ends up leaving us doing nothing at all.

We prefer to stay within our comfort zones, doing only things that require no risk. We make sure to “dot the i’s and cross the t’s” on everything. We double and triple check before we launch out, only to find there are still mistakes. We make mistakes. We fail, fall short, and screw up. I think the mistakes kind of gloat about it too. Don’t you? They are kind of in your face; nasty reminders of our humanness. They are raining on my parade, bursting my bubble, crashing my self-oriented party. Hey, it’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to.

So, what do we do when we get past the denial? When we are face-to-face with these loud-mouthed slip ups? We beat ourselves up. That’s what we do. We berate and replay. We over-analyze every move and over-explain everything (kind of like I am doing right now to make the point!). Pitiful creatures we are. These imperfections work against us on the inside too. They cause us to retreat deeper into the alcove of ourselves. We shrink in insecurity and fretfulness, believing in our illusions of security in that place.  But that’s just it. It’s bogus…baloney…malarkey. You get the idea.

That’s not how God or faith works.

EMERGENCY BROADCAST MESSAGE: I interrupt this post to report that my husband has just brought my son down to me. I repeat, son on the premises. Sound the siren, the fireman is on the scene. I’ll just say I am sorry right now for any mistakes you find in your fine-toothed scouring of this important and timely message on faith. I’ll make this quick.

I was reading yesterday on a passage in Hebrews. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19). The author, Watchman Nee, had some great things to say about this passage. He asked, “What is the use of an anchor if it stays on the steamer? It is to be cast into the water so as to stabilize the vessel. It is not to stay put on the steamer. Likewise is it with faith. Faith never believes in what is in us; faith casts itself upon the Lord Jesus…let me tell you, should the steamer be loaded with even larger anchors, it will still not be steadied unless those anchors are thrown in the water. The more we look at ourselves, the more disappointed we become. But if we cast the anchor of faith onto the Cross of the Lord Jesus we shall have peace”.

Jesus makes fishermen into fishers of men. He told Peter to cast the net on the other side for a catch. He called him out, to walk upon the water. He saw through Peter’s boastful bluffing. Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew Peter. He used every part, especially his mistakes in making Peter the rock upon which He would build His church. If he can do that with presumptuous Peter, he knows what he is doing with us.  We can count on that.

The dynamics of faith seem impractical, an oxymoron even. It is our delusions of perfection and our aversion to risk that make it seem so. Faith doesn’t work while it is still on the boat. It’s really that simple. We’ve got to step out, cast the anchor, and get comfortable with mistakes, because they are guaranteed to follow.

Geesh. Can you believe all this ranting over a little typo? Get over yourself already. Whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. It’s official. I have survived a blunder to post another day. The anchor holds me, clumsy as I am on a computer in the morning. It’s not the mistakes that kill, but the fear of casting the anchor. Steady now. Come on in, the water is fine, and it’s a good thing there is plenty of it. A fireman needs a lot of water you know. Here I go, off to join the fray. Let the firefighting begin.