The “People Make Mistakes” Club

We travel back and forth across the mountains for months, refusing offers of hospitality. And then, at last, we accept.

on the table
OFFERS of LODGING and MEALS come and we turn them all down. For months and months, we turn them down.

“No, no, we are fine,” we say. “Thank you very much.”

Then suddenly we say yes, just like that!

Maybe we need the company.
Maybe it’s just the right time.
Maybe we are finally ready.

* * *

AT THE RESTAURANT, the four of us lean into the conversation.

They were strangers to us an hour ago when we met in the parking lot, but now, dirty dishes waiting to be whisked away and the chip basket empty, except for broken pieces, we are comfortably acquainted, feeling at home far from home.

The waitress scurries back-and-forth, busy with other tables. We’re glad she hasn’t come with the check yet.

We lean in. We take turns speaking. We smile. We nod. We talk of work and home and where we grew up and how we ended up where we live now.

We even talk about the crisis that’s brought us together. We talk about tomorrow morning and court.

We heave a collective sigh – it was all so preventable – and there’s nothing we can do now but be present to the consequences. There nothing more to say, but then she speaks.

People make mistakes.”

Maybe that’s what I needed to hear someone say. All this time, maybe it was just that.

Later, over coffee at their home, we learn of the daughter who went awry. The model student. The star. Their pride and joy. She up and left home and broke their hearts and almost their spirits. But it isn’t how the story ended.

I know, even as the tale unfolds, this is the story they’ve wanted to tell us all these months, if only they could get us to agree to come.

“People make mistakes,” they both say at the end, and now we know what’s behind those words for them.

* * *

WEEKS LATER, we make the trip across the mountains again. We leave the house at 5 AM. Four hours into it – only 2/3’s the way there – the phone dings. A text from someone else who’s been after us.

Coming this way today? Love to see you!
Won’t you stay overnight?
How about just coming for lunch then?
What about just for coffee?

We agree to a brief visit.

There, in a living room I’ve never been in before, I hear again the words.

People make mistakes.” And we learn of an incident from 50 years ago – a father gone wrong, losing everything, down for the count. But that’s not how story ended. Those who knew him in later years found it hard to believe the true tale of earlier days.

* * *

AT HOME, I FIND A NOTE from a year ago when the news first broke: “Praying for you all. People make mistakes…..” I’d seen the note before, but now the words jump off the page and I wonder what the story is here.

One thing I’m learning, that within the Church, tucked in here and there between the people who spit vinegar and the people too paralyzed to speak and the people who don’t know what to think, are scattered pockets of people who, neither condoning nor excusing another’s poor choices, are able to say with great conviction “People make mistakes, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the story.”

They know it because they or a parent or a child or a friend has made mistakes, sometimes grievous ones, and, despite differences in detail, each was real and personal and usually involved a lot of tears and heartbreak. But those things weren’t the end of the story.

I begin to refer to them as “The ‘People Make Mistakes’ Club.” They have an understanding that’s beyond academic, a special knowledge that’s common as dust, but not fully realized until it’s in one’s own face, until you taste it.

To me, this disparate band of wounded victors seem closer to the gospel message than any voice I’ve heard from the Church in the longest time.

People make mistakes but there is redemption.
People make mistakes but it doesn’t have to be the end of the story.

This post is a chapter from my current work-in-progress. Feedback cherished. 🙂

* * *

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About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
This entry was posted in compassion, encouragement, hospitality, long view, processing grief, safe harbors. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The “People Make Mistakes” Club

  1. juliana says:

    “One thing I’m learning, that within the Church, tucked in here and there between the people who spit vinegar and the people too paralyzed to speak and the people who don’t know what to think, are scattered pockets of people who, neither condoning nor excusing another’s poor choices, are able to say with great conviction “People make mistakes, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the story.”

    They know it because they or a parent or a child or a friend has made mistakes, sometimes grievous ones, and, despite differences in detail, each was real and personal and usually involved a lot of tears and heartbreak. But those things weren’t the end of the story.”

    I suspect that one of the reasons people spit vinegar, and are too paralyzed to speak, and don’t know what to think is because people make mistakes and how we respond to that colors how we each respond to those mistakes. Grace reaches out in “it doesn’t have to be the end of the story” however we aren’t always ready to accept that loving hand of freedom. Instead we condemn and hide and wonder if there is room for us in this broken family of imperfect people that appear perfect to us. I’ve been in all of those spaces – the legalist who spits vinegar because *I’m* never going to do that and not be perfect and lose His love – the fearful child who realizes that I *do* make mistakes and am shamed and grieved by them and just wanting to hid – and the explorer who starts to believe the theology I can preach with my head but not with my heart and wonder if it might just apply to *me* of all people.

    I love the rest of the story however – I’ve watched people transformed – my favorite group of people are those in recovery, they are the bravest people I’ve ever met. As I’ve walked my own journey I’ve learned that grace applies to me as well and that I can be loved and accepted and that my mistakes aren’t the end of the story…

    Coming to the end of oneself is a wonderful gift for redemption…

    All of that to say that I’m glad you shared this – and that it resonates and offers hope and beauty.

    Like

  2. Marilyn, this is beautiful. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! A glimpse of the holy wrapped in flesh, Love loving us right in the messy midst, the Body of Christ opening its arms and comforting, encouraging, being there — not to solve or fix or judge or offer opinions — but just to “be”, vulnerable, broken, weary, overwhelmed…together. And that’s the good stuff. That…those moments strung together across the years are tiny promises of eternity, the hope of what is to come. For this is not the end of the story. Not even close! My daughter, 14, recently wrote, we are “Your broken children just trying to grow up in a broken world…” Because she’s seen the broken. She holds it in her heart. And from the loss, the pain, the brokenness grow compassion and vulnerability and honesty and love — deep love that opens wide arms and gathers others in. Bless you, Marilyn! Cannot wait to read your book!!

    Like

  3. Belinda says:

    I can’t wait to read the complete works of Marilyn Yocum. I love it.

    Like

  4. Liz says:

    I am so pleased to read that you finally accepted the invitation/offer and shared what you are going through. I can feel the relief in that act right through the screen as I read this.

    As always, I enjoy reading your writing. I feel you have such a comfortable style in what you put down. There is a cadence, a rhythm to your words.

    Also, I believe the people in our lives are there for a reason and that every day we are given a chance to start on a new path. This is not the end of the story, by any means.

    Like

  5. Marilyn says:

    THANK YOU for the feedback thus far, friends. In addition to the comments here, I’ve received a good bit of email. Your generosity in sharing how you connected with this piece has added much to my thinking about the project.

    Like

  6. Charline says:

    Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back
    regularly!

    Like

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