My beloved sat behind his desk at the church. He was preparing his sermons for Sunday when there was a faint knock at the door.
“Come in,” he called. It was the sweet lady who cleaned the church. She was as white as a ghost. He knew immediately that something was very wrong.
“Are you OK?” he asked, knowing already that she was not.
Shaking her head, she told him something terrible had happened.
My beloved is a pastor. “Something terrible” could be so many things. “What is it?” he asked.
Through tears she explained that she had been mopping the tile in the foyer at the front of the church. She always did her very best and took great care with her work. She had carefully maneuvered the rolling bucket up and off the carpet, not wanting to splash. After she had carefully-again rolled the bucket to the back of the church on the linoleum, she realized the bucket was leaking! She was horrified! There was bleach in the water! She raced back through the sanctuary to see if it had gotten on the carpet, praying with every step.
Her tears came freely now as she told the story. He patted her shoulder and offered comforting words. They went to assess the damage.
A fully soaked trail of water ran down the center aisle of the church. In that water was a good amount of bleach. (They could smell it.) She was devastated.
My beloved reassured her that it would be OK. It was obviously an accident and accidents happened everywhere-even at the church. The carpet was still very wet…it might not even be that bad when it dried. (I’m so very glad he is the pastor of our church! I was so glad for her that he was, too! Everything he said was true! Accidents DO happen, even at church!)
With shoulders slumped, she went back to her work, kicking herself mentally for what had happened.
The carpet dried…and there it was: a white streak on the burgundy carpet…from the front of the church, down the middle of the aisle, to the back of the sanctuary. I’m sure the nice lady could have fainted again. Every time she saw it, she was reminded of her mistake.
But on Sunday…no one seemed to notice or if they did, they didn’t care. I did see it and thought it must have been a baby bottle that leaked. I thought, “Aw…bless their heart!” But didn’t ask, cause it wasn’t a big deal.
I heard the whole story a week or so later. I felt so very bad for the sweet lady. I’ve been there and done that. Not with a bleach bucket but other stuff. When I make mistakes, I usually remind myself of it over and over again and sometimes just won’t let it go. I beat myself up, even with things from the past. I guess you could call it my “bleach on the carpet”.
We all make mistakes; we all sin. In fact, the Bible says so in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” I was doing a Bible study with a group of women this week and asked, “If you have ever in your whole life told a lie, would you raise your hand?” Hands went up all over the room. Next, I said, “If you have ever in your life taken something that didn’t belong to you whether you were three years old or a hundred, please raise your hand.” Again, hands were raised. “If you have ever said something hurtful to anyone, raise your hand,” I went on, lifting my hand each time as well. “It looks like we are a bunch of liars, thieves and mean people!” I concluded. They laughed. Without Jesus we are a mess! With Jesus, we don’t have to stay that way! He can forgive us of our past mistakes and give us a new start, or “new carpet”, if you will. God may say something like, “It may leave a mark but it will be OK.”
Do you have things from your past that weigh you down? Something you royally screwed up? No one else may know, or even care, but you cannot shake the guilt. Do you keep asking God to forgive you of it again and again? Maybe He has but maybe YOU haven’t! Ask God to forgive you and then forgive yourself! Exhale your guilt and shame and inhale forgiveness!
Lamentations 3:22-23 says: “Because of the LORD’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!” Woohoo! Every morning they are new!
The sweet lady who cleaned the church took another job a few months later. I hope she has totally forgotten about the bleach on the carpet. Everybody else has. I love that, too. We all go right on, not caring one bit.
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.