I cannot be the only one who has issues with putting her foot in it. Actually, no, I know I’m not. I know Peter is always touted as one of the favourite disciples for his propensity for putting his foot in his mouth at every possible moment, so it can’t just be me. At very least I know I’m in glad company with one of the disciples…
I don’t know what it is! Part of my theory says people get offended too easily. Another part of me thinks that there’s some kind of processor in my brain that just decided, at some random point in time, to give up. I know a big part of it is that I talk too much – I mean, I think I have so much to say that I even started blogging. I know that I tend to get worse in more crowded settings. People scare me, so I either ramble or make random outbursts that sound good in my head and end up coming out sounding horribly inappropriate. Maybe I need to grown some extra tact. Perhaps my people skills are just really under-evolved. Whatever the case may be, don’t invite me to your high society events…
But seeing as I mentioned Peter earlier, let’s get back to him.
Peter’s not my favourite (Sorry, Peter). I’m a staunch non-conformist, so liking Peter feels a little too mainstream for me… But I totally get that guy! I can imagine them all out walking and Jesus is busy teaching some hectic doctrines and blowing minds and then Peter drops some comment about leprosy and suddenly everyone is looking around awkwardly and tutting under their breath. Peter, my man, I get you! I am so prone to saying the wrong thing at the wrong time that it’s practically become an art form (remind me to put it on my next cv). But what is absolutely fascinating is that although Peter had his moments of sheer idiocy, he was still one of Jesus’ inner circle.
In those (numerous) awkward social situations I find myself in, the only thing I want is for the floor to swallow me whole. I certainly don’t want to experience any more of the same thing! But if Peter followed Jesus around for three years and at the end was still putting his foot in it, maybe there’s something that’s actually alright with that. So here’s what I think we can learn from Peter about those moments when we’ve really messed it up.
ONE: We get answers to the questions no one else will ask
Let’s face it, people are kind of dumb. Learning theatre, they teach you to allow three seconds for the audience to respond because they just don’t get stuff. Frequently, the disciples didn’t get it either. We won’t read that, we’ll just see it in their reactions. Time and time again Peter will say the wrong thing that will get Jesus teaching something that everyone needed to hear and needed clarified. Yes, Peter took the brunt of any exasperation, but his ineptitude still had results.
TWO: You can’t be acting holier-than-thou when you’re busy acting like a total dork. The reason Peter gets so much press is because he was the most “real” disciple. People mess up and most of them can’t stand Christians who think they’re just so wonderful. Heck! I’m a Christian and I can’t stand those people. When we mess up, we show we’re just as human as everyone else – our only advantage is that we’ve accepted the Grace that’s been offered.
THREE: It’s humbling. This one just needs to be said. I know that I have some serious issues with my inflated self-worth. Every now and then the two of us will wrestle – I always win of course… but then I just gloat because I won. But you can’t win when you mess it up in front of others. It’s been said that every job is a dream job were it not for the people – why? Because people force us to face our own flaws. We have to get off our high horses and admit that actually, no, we don’t know what’s going on all the time. As embarrassing and as painful as putting your foot in it in public is, it’s a very helpful process of sanctification. It humbles the proud.
Of course, none of this means I’m going to try and put my foot in my mouth, but the fact remains that even when I don’t, it ends up there anyway. The difference now though is that I’ll try to work those terrible situations into good ones – maybe, just maybe, my messing up will help someone else get right, and I’ll get closer to the straight and narrow in the process.