I was recently watching a television show where an old man
in a nursing home was talking to a younger man about the young man’s father whom
the old man had known well. This father
had been dead for many years. The son remembered
him from his childhood and the memories were painful. He was a hard, demanding man; prone to drink
and inclined to discipline his children in the old ways.
The son asked the old man, “You knew him well. What sort of
man was my father?”.
The old man hesitated and then looking into the son’s eyes replied
sadly, “A lesser man than he had hoped to be…as are we all.”
That might be one of the best lines I have ever heard. Most of us have the tendency to judge others far
too harshly while giving ourselves a pass on our behavior to the point of even
blaming others for the people we have become.
I’m not going to make this about victimhood or oppression
and all the socio-economic-political push and pull around those issues. This is, and should be to each of us, more
personal. How does one feel about the people
in their life who have let them down? Family
members who failed to meet expectations, would- be mentors who let them down, employers
who did not deliver on their promises, people in one’s life who just let us
down without warning or regret.
But how often do we look in the mirror and recognize that we
are that family member who failed, the mentor who missed the opportunity to change
someone’s life for the better, the employer (or employee) who did not deliver
on promises or that we are the person in someone else’s life who let them down?
Repentance begins with recognition. Certainly, the realization that we are not
the person we had hoped to be. But more importantly,
confessing that we are not the person God made us to be. I don’t mean physically or mentally. I mean the person you are as an eternal, spiritual
being made in the image of God. That person
is the one who must confess they are less than they had hoped to be and most
assuredly less than God created them to be…..as are we all.