I am a scorekeeper.
For too long I have remembered. I have remembered the mistakes that I have made. The things I shouldn’t have done. The lost opportunities. The bad decisions. The wrong turns. The selfish choices. I can spin the mental Rolodex filled with memories of my transgressions.
I can remember being about 8 or 9 years old. We were having dinner…fried chicken! My mom sat next to me at the table. She had carefully peeled off the crispy, coveted skin of her fried chicken and set it to the side of her plate. It was not because she didn’t like the skin, to the contrary, it was because she LOVED the skin. She was saving it for last. We sat and ate…and then I went for it. I reached out and grabbed it off of her plate. No asking, nothing. I just grabbed it and threw that crunchy, crispy, tasty piece right into my mouth as fast as I could. I can close my eyes to this day and see the look on my mom’s face. The shock, and frustration, and defeat. The momentary feeling of victory left me, even with the bite still in my mouth. In that moment, I had a 10 second face-to-face encounter with what selfish ambition felt like. A preview for me into doing it my way, regardless of the people it may affect. My mom took the whole thing in stride. She was upset…but there was no big talk or production. I did it. It was wrong. I said sorry. She moved on.
I brought up this memory to her just last year. I was seeking repentance for this act, like so many others like it from my childhood and early adulthood. Mind you I had already earnestly made an amends in the past to both of my parents for general wrongdoing and specific sins against them. They have already accepted my amends, forgiven my trespasses, and moved forward with me to have a strong, loving, and deep relationship. It’s just as time goes on, and my life gets drastically better than it was in those darker days of self-seeking, I remember these acts and apologize again. And again. And again.
So, I bring up this story to my mother last year…this chicken skin stealing memory that haunts me. The horror of how I stole from her, in front of her face. The memory of treating her so terribly. She looked at me and said, “I don’t even remember what you are talking about.” So here is the crazy spot that I find myself in…I have repented years before for this act. IN THE MOMENT, actually. I apologized and she forgave. But it stayed with me. I understand the importance of remembering your mistakes so you don’t make them again…but that’s not what I am talking about here. I am talking about the fact that she moved on emotionally, but I did not. I kept the angst and anguish and guilt and shame. I relived it over, and over, and over. I mean…I am 39 years old! This was 30 years ago! Holy gamoly!
I am a scorekeeper. I can distinctly recall all of these personal infractions along my path. And just like a professional athlete that has to relive a botched play in their championship game, I can feel each memory like it was yesterday. I would like to say that I limit this “skill-set” of recall and record-keeping to my own mistakes, but I do not discriminate. One quick check-in with my husband will confirm that I remember his infractions too! And I can relive them. How they hurt, or felt, or stung. I have not moved on.
Under the guise of “learning from my mistakes” I keep these memories at the top of my mind and the tip of my tongue. They take up residence in the forefront. And because of that they are the filter that all new experiences are passed through. They cloud my ability to love…myself or others…because I insist on remembering so vividly. This “lowlights reel” playing on a loop disallows me to believe that anyone was ever sorry…truly sorry.
I want to love, and be loved, so deeply that it inspires my children and others to love in the same way. But my scorecard is my handicap. My inability to honestly forgive stunts all progress. I know that this resentment, for myself and others, rises within me and it divides me from my potential. My potential to live, to love, and to do God’s work. I cannot move forward if my heart is embedded in the past.
I know that forgiveness is the key to unlock my door of spiritual, emotional, and relational progress. And I have prayed…and prayed…and prayed. For every angle of my predicament. I have asked God to help me forgive. I have asked God to send others to make amends. I have asked God to change my heart, their heart, my memory, my behavior, their behavior, my recollection, my selfishness, my fear of future infractions. But inside I “knew” there was a part of how I felt that was accurate or deserved. That I should be ashamed of who I was or what I did in the past. That I was right to be hurt and wounded and scorned by the actions of others. And because of that hesitation in my heart, the little conviction that my scorecard was serving me somehow, protecting me somehow, today I stand here still afflicted with my unforgiveness…and it is suffocating. My self-judgement and self-righteousness choke my soul.
Today I decided that I don’t want to be a scorekeeper any more. I don’t want to watch the fire that burns within me to answer God’s call be slowly smothered by the grief I carry for my trespasses, and those who have trespassed against me. I want to put down the pencil…still aware of my environment…still wiser from my experiences…but with empty hands. No pencil. No scorecard. Empty hands that are ready to serve. Ready to act, and do, and create, and hug. Empty hands that are ready to do the work the God has prepared for me to do. I want to be a play-maker! I want to be a game-changer! And that starts today.
What about you? What perceived asset has become a liability for you? What are you holding onto so tightly that your hands are not empty and ready for your calling? What do you need to do to put down the scorecard and get in the game?