My girls and I were shopping in Old Navy, scouring through clearance.
Another lady was scouring as well. She turned towards me with frustration and exclaimed, “I’m such a mess…just look at me!”
I looked at her but didn’t see a mess. Her hair was just right. Her make-up was perfect and her outfit was pulled together and pristine for Old Navy clientele.
The lady went on…”We just moved here from California and I didn’t pack the right clothes. Everything is still in storage and I have nothing to wear!” “In California I owned my own clothing store… we’re retired now…. We just moved here…we wanted to be near our grandchildren.”
She turned towards my girls with a pointing finger, “Do your parents a favor…Stay close!!! Don’t move far away!”
This drew us further into conversation because Sam, our daughter, was heading to the west coast…moving far away! And as Sam began sharing with this woman about her upcoming journey, the inner conversation playing in my head went something like this:
“I should invite them to church. But look at me….I have no makeup on. My hair is hidden under this baseball cap and I’m in a hoodie and yoga pants. This woman is ‘put-together’ and what am I to say… “Hi, come to our church…I’m the pastor’s wife.. I’m a mess but on Sunday I won’t be!”
Why didn’t I put myself together before heading out the door? I always run into everyone I know when I look like this!!”
I continued to nod and pretend I was listening while the real dialogue continued in my head.
“I should invite them to church…but all I have are the old “Easter” invites with the Easter brunch on it. Easter is over… I wouldn’t want them to get confused about the times of service…. I should invite them to church…but….LOOK AT ME…I’M A MESS!”
I fidgeted with the Easter invites while the inner battle raged on in my head.
My daughter’s conversation came to an end and here was my chance!
Yet instead of pulling out an invite or extending any kind of invitation, I politely said, “Well, it was nice to meet you and welcome to town!”
And I walked away.
I walked away in silence. Out of the store and through the mall.
My daughter turned toward me, “I thought you were going to invite her to church.”
I fessed up and blurted out…
“I was going to invite her….but honestly…I get scared about these things…I know I shouldn’t but what if they reject me? What if they say no? …And look at her. She was so put together and look at me… I’m a mess!”
And then my teenage daughter spoke words of wisdom to this messed up momma,
” Mom, they’re not rejecting you!
And as Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!”
I stopped dead in my tracks…right there in the middle of the Target parking lot. Cars moving in and out and me stunned still in the middle of the road.
“You’re right!….I’m going back!!! Let’s go back! I’m going to invite them!”
I headed back with real determination and fortitude. I marched right into Old Navy and back to the clearance section. The now empty clearance section.
They were gone! Gone from the area…gone from the store!
I had missed my opportunity.
The door was open but I didn’t walk through.
I walked out disappointed. I had failed. I had messed up.
I was so focused on me and my own stuff that I missed the whole idea of her. I missed her story and how alone she might feel in a new place with new surroundings with few who knew her.
God was giving me the opportunity for our stories to connect and I missed the link.
And maybe I wasn’t all ‘put together’. And in my own comparison game I chalked myself up as the loser…the ‘non-put-together’ pastor’s wife.
I missed the story of grace. The grace story with a ‘come-as-you-are’ invite. Just as Christ invited us.
My own insecurities kept the invite hidden away and guilt was ready to beat me up.
Guilt says: “You are such a failure. You’re a pastor and you don’t invite them to church.”
Grace says: “This missed opportunity doesn’t make you a failure. Next time, you’ll do better.”
Which voice will we surround ourselves with — guilt or grace?
Grace says, “There’s always an opportunity to try again!”
Grace is God loving us in the middle of our mess. His grace meets us in our messed up places and missed opportunities. His love meets us there.
With this story, I was reminded of my own insecurities and how the voice of guilt tries to out scream His voice of grace.
We will not get it perfect every time. We will miss the mark. We will mess up. But in that mess up His grace is there to meet us at every opportunity.
I still pray for the lady I met in Old Navy. I pray I will cross paths with her again. And this time, make-up or no make-up, I’m inviting her in.
Grace is found in getting back up and moving past the guilt. We don’t need to live in the regret of our past mess ups and missed opportunities. Instead we move forward and, with grace, invite others in.
Jump into the conversation –
- How do you handle disappoint with yourself?
- How do you fight against the voice of guilt?
- How have you learned to walk in the grace of missed opportunities?
- How can we encourage and pray for you?
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