A friend is in the middle of a DIY remodel and posted after a long day of work, “Why is it so embarrassing to admit we don’t know how to do something?”
The question struck me because the word, “embarrassing,” is a curious thing. It got me wondering…
First of all, this person is crushing their first DIY! It takes bravery and tenacity to try something you’ve never done! This friend has consulted youtube, friends, neighbors, and hashed things out on their own, as well as gratefully accepting help here and there.
This friend’s schooling, training, and work experience to some extent have overlapping themes which gave them foresight to take on such a project, but in practice, this person has never refurbished anything on their own.
Can we just pause and talk about what a feat it is to simply TRY!?
Whether we are cognizant of our fears when trying new things, or if we try things blindly, the action of trying should be recognized, for sure…even celebrated.
Take note: Before this I didn’t know how to do “X.” Here’s what I’d do next time, here’s what I’d do differently.
This is called learning…and some learning can’t solely be done by reading books, listening to lectures or sermons, or being told, “This is how you do ‘X.'”
Much of life is made up of experiential learning…hands on…as it unfolds.
For example, growing up, I had parents, but when it came time to become a parent, everything was new…it was all a first time experience. Yes, there are many things my Dad, especially, told me to do, “Because he said so.” And, sure I had babysat and all that in middle and high school, but those kids’ parents came home at night and I got paid to walk out the door and get a good night’s sleep. Parenting, in practice, is just that: practice.
The sooner we can admit this, we’re able to experience empathy for our parents, grace for ourselves, and know how to cut the cord and not take everything so personally with our own kids.
These kids are new to us and we’re new to them. Their DNA has never existed on earth prior to this time and space and as a parent, there’s no manual with specific instructions or coding, other than: love ’em, feed ’em, and train them up. I mean, preschool isn’t even a requirement to do life on earth. Back up 1000 years and $500 jogging strollers, BPA-free bottles, carseats, safety locks, screen time limits, vaccinations, ACT tutors, prom after parties, and Wednesday night youth group weren’t even things. Running water and electricity aren’t even requirements.
And somehow, miraculously, humankind has perpetuated. Generation after generation has continued to live and learn, and personally, I believe every generation is doing it better than the one before them. At least, that should be the hope of every generation: not that they do it the same way we did, because, by God, we had our sh*t together, but that they graciously take note that we were doing the best we knew how with what resources we had, and they have permission to tweak, alter, and even radically overhaul the way they want to do life in the future.
This is the miraculous gift of critical thinking. This is owning our sh*t. This is taking responsibility for ourselves and not projecting onto others what we think they should and should not do, and how, or casting blame like they did back in the Garden.
We are all trying to figure it out as we go. And admitting we’ve done things wrong, or don’t know how to do something, though I don’t know if I’d use the word, “embarrassing,” is hard to swallow. Our pride and love and protection, and our declaration to do some things the same as our parents did with us and others the opposite, drive us to either draw a line in the sand and not budge, or to trust the process, and the One who breathed life into us, and our kids, in the first place.
This is sometimes excruciating as a parent who wants to protect our kids from pain and the stupid ass mistakes we made when we were younger.
So, we tell them, “Don’t do such and such.” But they do it anyway. You did it anyway. I did it anyway.
The fear that’s swelled over the last two to three generations in America’s Christianity has almost snuffed out the actual gospel, the Good News of God’s extravagant love and whole reason for creating of it in the first place: Love. Love. Love.
When we’re stuck in shame or embarrassment because we don’t know how to do something, don’t have the answer, or are genuinely, “wrong,” instead of staying there, being reminded of the power of our beliefs is key.
-Being wrong isn’t bad…believing being wrong makes us “bad” is destructive.
-Not knowing how to do something isn’t bad.
-Making mistakes isn’t bad…but believing making mistakes somehow usurps our God-designed worth, or someone else’s, is loathing and judgment.
Admitting we don’t know something, or admitting and owning we were wrong and want to do it differently next time is called learning. And when it’s received and extended between people, because it was first extended to us, is called grace. And there’s ample of that to go around if we give it a try.