“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”– 2 Cor. 12:9 NIV
I never thought my mistakes would catch up with me. I never thought I would have to interact with anyone or anything I may have left a negative mark on in my previous life. I never thought I would have to look my failure directly in the face but, as they say, “never say never”.
While in California I had the great opportunity to hang out with my little brother. He is now 12 years old and attending the same middle school I was kicked out of when I was in 8th grade. My brother asked me many questions about why I was kicked out. I tried to avoid the details, but I owed him an explanation, so I told him I made poor choices and hurt another student. It was a bad choice and I have learned from it. He didn’t want to settle for that, but he had to until we decided to go get donuts.
We went to a local donut shop and we were laughing together while placing our order. All of a sudden the guy serving me says “Hey, you look familiar?” I looked at him trying to place his face in my memory, then he said “You remind me of one of my buddies. Uhm…” He said their name and I said “No, but my last name is Benavides.” That’s when it went south for me.
“That’s it!” he said, “Bobby Benavides! What are you up to now?” I shared I was a youth pastor in West Virginia and I was in visiting. He responded with “Wow! That’s a long way from picking on me in school isn’t it?” Ouch! To top it off, he shared he was still friends with the individual I hurt, which got me kicked out of school. How do I respond to that? How do I explain this to my brother who looks up to me for who I am now? I was staring failure right in the face!
I looked at the guy and all I could say was “I’m sorry.” That was all I could say? Really?! Then he did something really cool and said “No worries” and some other stuff and gave me a free donut. “I’m sorry” was enough after all. Then, the inevitable came when my brother asked “Bro, what was that all about?” I proceeded to explain sometimes we make mistakes. In fact, the mistake wasn’t that I picked on this kid, because in reality I never did, all I did was fight his friend. My mistake with him was hanging out with other kids that did pick on him and not doing anything about it. I was marked in his memory as someone who was a bully.
The teaching moment came for my brother, for me, and hopefully for you as you finish this (if you have gotten this far) when I said this: Think about your current actions today before you make them. It has been 13 years since I graduated high school and this has stuck with this guy ever since. In 13 years, I pray we have left a positive mark on lives instead of marks we have to apologize for later.
Looking failure in the face isn’t pretty, but sometimes it is necessary for us to teach and be taught. I am just glad that I am renewed by Christ and my failures are used to bring glory to his name. He has made me who I am and my failures don’t define me. Christ does!