I am a perfectionist about most things. I also want things the way I want them. This doesn't mean I don't slack off on occasion or allow things to be other than I prefer. I do both of those....but that doesn't mean I'm not driven somewhat crazy by giving in, because I am. Perhaps that is why, when I make a mistake, do something inappropriate, say something embarrassing, those things stay with me. I am my own worse critic and have a (bad) tendency to beat up on myself for those errors.
This is not the healthiest model. I understand that and know it is one of my (continuing) growing edges. To get myself out of that cycle of self-recrimination, I often times think of Peter, our bumbling and thick-headed disciple, on whom Jesus founded his church. Peter made lots of mistakes, said lots of inappropriate things, while he was following along after Jesus. Today's Gospel reading describes one of his most serious errors: denying Jesus three times, as was predicted, and then seeing Jesus look at him knowingly. We are given a glimpse of Peter's despair when we are told that he went out and wept bitterly.
We know that Peter went on to lead the remnant of Jesus' disciples after the death, resurrection and ascension. We know Peter went on to lead the building of the church (along with others). We know Peter responded to the command from God, he received in a dream, about opening the doors of the church to the Gentiles. Peter did not allow his errors, his weaknesses, to define him. He did not dwell on them allowing himself to be overtaken by them. He allowed the wound to heal, instead of picking at the scab not allowing it to heal. He was, I'm sure, informed by his humanness, but he did not allow his mistakes to define him. This is part of becoming reconciled to God. We all make mistakes. God's love for us allows us to move beyond those errors. We may feel Jesus' eyes on us like Peter did, but those aren't eyes of judgement but one's of understanding and reconciliation. Don't dwell on things that could have gone better, learn from them and move on. Be informed by, not defined by, those things.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.