Small Stupid Means and Great Big Messes

Sometimes the Lord is so generous in helping us deal with our own foolishness. Sometimes He kindly arranges for second chances, for opportunities to recover from disaster and walk away with only minor damage done, hopefully wiser for the experience. Other times we are not so lucky.

When it comes to my mistakes, I seem to have unusually bad luck much of the time–when I do something foolish, if something can go wrong, it often does. I think my string of bad luck might be a teaching tool to remind me to always be cautious, and to remember that small stupid means can bring about great big stupid messes.

I guess it makes sense in light of the Book of Mormon, where we are told about how the Lord can achieve great things through small and simple means. (Alma 37:6-7) If great good things can be achieved through small righteous means, what about all the small stupid things we do? Naturally, they can lead to great big stupid messes. One rumor spread can damage all sorts of friendships. A small unkind act can keep someone from coming back to church. A moment of distraction while driving can result in the deaths of good people. It’s a dangerous world out there, and we need to be cautious every moment, every day. We need the Lord’s help constantly, every hour, to maximize the good we do and minimize the harm.

I’ve had my share of small stupid means creating massive unintended messes. So frustrating. So perplexing how minor sloppiness or semi-innocent foolishness can escalate and lead to all sorts of trouble. But I had a second chance experience earlier this year. Can’t say much except to express gratitude. So amazingly grateful that I was able find a solution after much tormented prayer, one that involved being able to reach someone at exactly the right time to apologize and fix a potential disaster before someone else got hurt. An unintentionally stupid action came close to being a disaster. Whew. Someone else was able to be generous and kind in my moment of need and make everything OK. But I learned a few painful lessons in the process.

May we be careful each day, working out our salvation with fear and trembling (those are Paul’s words in Philip. 2:12, not modern Mormon heresy) because it is a jungle out there, and our small slips can become much more troublesome that we ever imagined. Stick to the straight and narrow and pray for help each day to avoid errors that injure others, and pray even harder for help to recover when those slips occur. Sometimes, maybe just sometimes, the Lord can help us avoid some of the great and stupid consequences of our own bad behavior.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

5 thoughts on “Small Stupid Means and Great Big Messes

  1. So true! The consequences are there to help us learn, I suspect. The learning can be painful, sometimes with nary a chance to make things right. So it is always a gift to find those who will forgive us our foibles and give us a second chance. Dick Chaney mentioned that in his graduation speech at BYU–America the land of the second chance–I believe he said (a couple years ago)

  2. I don't know about you, but I make the biggest messes when I trust on anything other than Christ for my judgement.

    When I think my husband might judge me for the way I cook, I might find myself excessively spending on groceries or take-out. When I think my co-workers might judge my work, I tend to overwork and get imbalanced in my time.

    But when I rely on the knowledge that Jesus Christ loves me enough to die for me, and that He is the ultimate judge of my actions, I worry less about the responses of others, rely less on my own abilities, and focus more on my gratitude for a Savior. Oh, how I pray for consistency in my reliance on Christ!

  3. So true, Jeff – and I'm glad it worked out so well for you in this instance. He really is the tender behind the mercy.

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