I’m shocked sometimes at how paralyzing it can be for me to make a decision. I get overwhelmed easily when there are too many choices. I’m a recovering perfectionist, so when I am unable to make the ‘right’ decision, I shut down. I abdicate my decision making power. I give up, often terrified of making the ‘wrong’ decisions. Wrong decisions have served me well as defining moments not to repeat. I become aware of the early warning signals when I honestly consider all the circumstances that surrounded my ‘wrong’ decisions. I must learn not to get into the same predicament and not to repeat the same mistakes.
I’ve developed a personal process that has helped me over the years. It’s not rocket science but I did learn it in a lab. I dissect my personal experience like the worm from my tenth grade science class:
1. I open it up.
2. I examine what’s inside.
3. I discover the truth.
4. I remove that which does not belong.
5. I learn—in this case ‘what not to repeat.'
6. I apply what not to repeat toward the next opportunity to learn.
This process does not preclude me from making new mistakes. It does give me a platform for advancement. The process forces me to slow down and take a look inside when I get stuck. I’m often tempted to rush through the process as if I’m in a hurry to get it over with and move on. I’ve learned over the years that my arrogance or stubborn insistence to 'get it over with' provides me with another opportunity to learn from the same mistake over and over again. So, maybe when we find ourselves experiencing deja vu all over again, it’s time to slow down and go through the dissection of our heart.
A woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus in a publicly humiliating way. I wonder what she thought as the strong arms of her accusers dragged her from her bed most likely not giving her time to grab a coverup. Exposed, embarrassed, guilty she stood in the dust as hundreds of people crowded around trying to get a good look. The strong arm of the law flaunted her guilt. The Law of Moses was not wrong. She stood guilty among her accusers.
Jesus had been seated in the Temple area teaching. As the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery before Jesus, he bent over to write in the dust. He was tasked with what to do about this situation. The religious leaders wanted to expose, embarrass and humiliate Jesus. After all, he supposedly could forgive sin. The Pharisees kept badgering Jesus.
He straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
Jesus straightened up (a second time) and asked her, "Woman where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
"No one, sir,” she replied.
“Then neither do I condemn you.” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:7-11 NIV)
Someone greater than the law put himself in our place in order to fulfill the law’s requirements. The Law is not wrong. It exposes, embarrasses and reveals each and every one of us as guilty. From the oldest to youngest we recognize the accumulated sin. Without forgiveness, we are doomed to make all wrong decisions. We may even use the law as a strong arm to deflect our own guilt and accuse others when we are the ones standing alone in the dust.
Jesus stood up for me. He will do it for you. He also gives us this command, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Forgiveness is the first step of many to open up, examine, discover, remove, learn and apply what Jesus teaches us. This is why we call him Savior.
“I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV