I thought I ran out of checks last week. I had probably written my last check weeks ago but didn’t notice until I went to write a check and there weren’t any. But then, a couple days later, I found a new box of unused checks.
It’s always something. I keep my gas tank full and remember to pay my credit card bill, but then I forget the checks (or lose them because I forgot where I put them). I stay on top of Bible study homework and fit in some exercise, but then I forget to text a friend on her birthday.
Even if I get the big stuff right, there’s always some little detail I’m missing. There’s always a plate I can’t keep up while I run around spinning all the others.
What to remember when we forget
It’s not if we fail, but when. There is simply too much for us to remember for us to actually remember it all. Next time you make a mistake or drop the ball, here are a few things to remember.
1) You will never be perfect at everything. To be human is to make mistakes, to forget, and to mess things up. That means everybody struggles with this. We all forget to return the library book, or we show up late to a party because we lost the invitation. A friend of mine recently invited someone over for dinner, but then didn’t have all the ingredients they needed for the meal. You know what? It worked out. They still had a great time, and it was all the more memorable because of the mistake.
2) God is in the details. We trust that God holds power over our life’s trajectory and our major decisions, but His sovereignty isn’t limited to what we see as the big things in life. He knows how many individual hairs are on your head. He sees when a sparrow falls. He works in the little things in our lives, too.
We have no idea how many times He has guided us in some little thing, like reminding us to put the food away before it spoils or grab our keys before we lock the car. Even when we drop the ball and forget a detail, He uses our failure to grow us and show himself.
I trust God to guide me when I make career decisions or other big life decisions. Why do I think He can’t work through my mess-ups? It’s as if His sovereignty stops where my to-do list starts, as if He can’t override my failures. God is sovereign, period. He can right my mistakes and work through my oopsie-daisies.
3) Little things are little. We will mess many things up. But most of the time, those mess-ups are inconsequential. It’s not really a big deal. We can’t remember everything, so why not come to terms with failing at something little? If I’m going to forget something (and I will, trust me), I’d rather it be a little thing.
Even mess-ups that seem more problematic — like forgetting to pay the credit card bill (which I’ve also done) — are not the end of the world. When you realize your mistake, do what you can to fix it. Then move on.
4) Learn from it. After I found the extra checks, I made a mental note to order the next batch well before I use the last check. Of course, that’s no guarantee I will remember. But I’d like to think it’s more likely. God often uses our experiences to teach us, and that’s no less true with the little things. He may even be teaching us something bigger than simply how to avoid the same problem next time.
The big deal about little failures
Sometimes the little things feel like big things, especially when we feel bombarded with lots of little things. Sometimes we’re so stressed about bigger things that all it takes is one little mess-up or mix-up to push us over the edge or make us moody for the rest of the day. And then, of course, it’s even more irritating that it was such a little thing that set us off.
But maybe these little inconveniences are actually bigger than we think. They can be litmus tests, showing us where we put our hope and what we bank our worth on. How do you respond when you fail at something little? When you forget something? What does your reaction say about your heart?
I think God uses these moments to remind us who we’re not. We are not omniscient. We can’t solve all our own problems. We can’t even remember to do all the things we know we need to do, much less figure out what to do in tricky situations.
Next time you come up against a situation where you drop the ball or forget some little detail, praise God that He is working in the details. He’s got this. He’s got you, too.