I messed up the other day.

I had called AAA about finally getting my husband’s car towed back home from the dealership where it sat about an hour away from our house.  (See here for the December post when the car broke down.)  We pay for 100 miles of free towing and didn’t think this would be any problem.

Until I messed up.

It was a nice mess up.  I told her that they had saved my husband when the car had broken down and had towed him to this dealership.  That is when she informed me that their policy was only one tow per breakdown.  This was a shock to me because this same car had broken down as we left for our honeymoon (yes – the day after our wedding!), and we had done the exact same thing with it.  But, once again, I had made the mistake of saying too much, giving too much detail, and being too honest (ok – I know that’s not technically a mistake, but that’s how it felt).

How do you handle it when you make a mistake?  Although I think I’m better with them than I used to be, the perfectionist in me still struggles with them.  This one I didn’t handle too well.  My first response was to worry about how we were going to get the car back home.  I was sure than an hour-long tow was going to be expensive, and I definitely didn’t want to spend another dime on this car.  My second response was to be angry and critical at myself.  Why did I have to tell her all that detail?  Why can’t I be more careful and strategic?  How could I be so stupid?!

So I called my husband and, thankfully, he does not handle my mess ups the way I do!  For one thing he wasn’t mad at me or critical even though my penchant for detail, stories, and honesty has been a problem before. (You can see why I call him “the man worth waiting for”!)  And he wasn’t stressed out about what to do with the car.

That night when he came home, he had an idea for us to try.  He had me put an ad on Craig’s List for the car.  You’d be amazed how much interest you can get in a car that doesn’t run!  The next night, we responded to the emails, and I printed out the ones for him that had phone numbers.  The next morning, he headed out of town for a business trip – one that “happened” to take him right through the city where the car was.  He called the people who had emailed us and basically spent the whole day wheeling and dealing between work appointments.  By that night, he had plans to meet a man at the dealership to sell him the car for cash – all on his way home from this trip – which he did.  Amazing!

As we were talking about this, my husband told me how happy this man was to get the car and said, “He was probably the one who was supposed to get it anyway.”  And that phrase stopped me in my tracks and taught me a lesson.  Because my husband brought God into my mess up.  With my husband’s perspective, God reminded me that He is sovereign, that He is in control.  That a mistake that made me worried and angry turned out to be a blessing for someone.  That there can be a bigger story going on than my mistake.  And that He can take care of things, and I need to stop worrying so much.  Who knows – my mistake may have led to His answer to someone’s prayer.

Of course, these thoughts can lead to questions of how our free will (and mistakes) and God’s sovereignty interact, and I don’t really have answers to that mystery of God.  But I really do believe that God used what I saw as my mistake to provide our car to someone specific.  And I believe that He worked it all out for us and led my husband in the process.

So how to you handle it when you mess up?  This experience convicted me and taught me (again) that I want to respond in faith.  Instead of worrying and beating myself up, I want instead to be quick to pray and quick to rest in God’s sovereignty and quick to trust Him to redeem it.  Because isn’t that what He is all about anyway – redemption?  I don’t think it will be a quick change, but I do want to change – to have more trust in God than frustration with myself.  Who knew that old, broken down car had a lesson to teach me?!

Hyundai tailgate

The Hyundai in happier times!