Oh my goodness, you guys, so I have to tell you this story.
Last month when we went to Omaha for Cooper’s cancer treatment, we decided to make a weekend out of it. So the day after treatment, we took the kids to the Henry Doorly Zoo.
It’s an awesome place, and we’ve visited several times before, but never like this. On that day, we strutted up to the zoo gates with the wind in our hair and a feeling of liberation. We had just realized this would be our first visit to the zoo STROLLER FREE – glorious!
As we walked the winding cement paths, I secretly laughed at those poor suckers who were trying to dodge and weave through the crowd with their big, awkward strollers. Sorry if you are still in this stage, but trust me, you will laugh with triumph when you are on the other side too!
But then the kids got tired. “Can I have a shoulder ride, Mom?”
Sure, why not? Carrying around 50 pounds of extra weight — no big deal!
So my husband, Justin, hoisted our 8-year-old, Anthony, onto his shoulders, and I had our 5-year-old, Cooper, on mine as we entered the next exhibit.
Thirsty from being a source of transportation for my child, I carefully balanced Cooper on my shoulders as I unscrewed the lid of my $3 Cherry Pepsi in order to get a quick drink.
At that exact moment, Anthony decided he didn’t want to be on my husband’s shoulders anymore. He swung his leg around to hop down and promptly collided with my hand, sending soda spewing through the air in a gravity-defying arch.
With quick reflexes, my husband bobbled for the bottle like a football player trying to catch a Hail Mary pass. This sent the bottle spinning in a loop de loop pattern, spraying Pepsi everywhere as it went.
But here’s the worst part — oh, this is bad, guys.
Just then some poor, unsuspecting mom was walking toward us. Like a slow motion replay, I watched as every twist of the Pepsi bottle pummeled her coral colored blouse with sticky, brown pop. Then, with one last final spin, Pepsi splashed right into her mouth — HER MOUTH!
It was disgusting. I was mortified on her behalf, and all I could say was, “I’m so sorry! I’m not sick! I’m so sorry!” as she attempted to spit my pop out of her mouth.
“I’m not sick.” — nice one, Jenni. But I didn’t know what else to say as my Pepsi dripped from her face!
I continued to apologize profusely and lamely offered her a wet wipe. I seriously did not know what else to do.
With a dazed look, she shook her head and said they had wipes. Then we parted ways with my embarrassed apologies still hanging in the air.
For the rest of our visit, all I could think about was that poor mom who’d just had my Pepsi spilled in her mouth.
Can we just take a moment to acknowledge how bizarre and disgusting this whole thing is?!
Again and again I went over the interaction in my head. What could I have done differently? How could this have happened? Why did I have to take a drink right at that second?
But there was no denying that it was just a freak accident.
I couldn’t change what happened.
No matter how much I worried about the lady, what was done was done. And since I couldn’t fix things, I settled for asking God to shower her with grace and bless her week. Still, I felt so GUILTY!
My husband finally started to get a little irritated with me when I randomly said (for the thousandth time), “How did that happen!?”
Exasperated, he said, “It’s over! It was an accident, and we can’t do anything about it. What good does it do to dwell on it? Let it go!”
But you get where I’m coming from, don’t you? Have you ever made a mistake and then had no idea how to make it right again? Did you struggle to forgive yourself?
It can be so tormenting. Chances are that lady has forgotten the whole messy situation by now. Hopefully maybe she’s even had a good laugh about it with her friends.
But I still felt guilty for something I had no power to change.
Isn’t life just like that sometimes? We let guilt over past mistakes fester and eat us up inside.
So my prayer for our life is this: God, please give us the grace to forgive ourselves.
And my great hope is that we can find the comfort God offers us through the power of confession and forgiveness.