Something for when you totally blow it.

I said something funny to God last night. Not like funny haha, more like funny sad… or maybe like funny *gasp*.

Remember when I asked you to pray for me? I was going to share my testimony in spanish for our youth group, Cultura Vertical, and I was freaking out because my spanish is just awful, and I was 100% certain that I was going to bomb, and I was like “why did I say I’d do it?”….remember that?

Yesterday was the day. And yeah,…I choked. It was a hot mess.

“Nightmare” comes to mind. F-ing disaster. Epic fail. Total cluster-f… nevermind…you get the idea – It was just baaaaad. The only thing that would have been worse would have been if I had actually said nothing. Actually, that might have been better…

I wish you could have seen their faces, though. They were dumbfounded, like, “Your mouth is moving, and you’re making sounds, buuuuut…not…exactly…sure…what they mean…”

All I can say is that I prepared; studied the verbs I needed, went over it in my head a million times, wrote myself notes (which I didn’t take with me), and in the end I choked. My mind went blank, my mouth went dry, and my brain smirked and said, “Buh-Bye.” And that’s how it went down…..Ugh.

I’ve spoken in front of large groups before, lots of times, and I have NEVER had anything like this happen. (Ok, there was this one time – I can’t explain it – but my oral crutch suddenly became “awesome”. I probably said it, like, 140 times in 35 minutes. So embarrassing! But not even close to the same level of catastrophe that struck me stupid yesterday. Not. even. close.)

Last night we had a hookah date with some friends. I bowed out, exhausted from the afternoon, and I was relieved when El Chupacabra went anyway. I wanted to be alone with my disappointment. So I made a quick dinner for my kids, went upstairs, and crawled into bed at 7:45.

That’s when I said it, the funny thing, to God.

I said, “There were a bunch of people praying that today would go well and You really let them down.”

And, I’m pretty sure He was like, “Um…Really?!”

See, here’s the thing. There was something, just one thing, I didn’t do to prepare. I felt nudged in that direction, but you know, I didn’t have time, and I my cell phone was dead, and I forgot to call so-and-so, and was so busy doing such-and-such, and it was too late, and had so much going on, and I had to clean the house and read a book and do a million searches for a million things on the internet, and I had to write a blog, and then my phone was dead again, so you know, it just didn’t work out. It never worked out for me to call a friend – a Costa Rican friend – and go over what I had planned to say. And that would have made all the difference.

I have a confession to make: My spanish is actually pretty decent, it’s my heart that’s all screwed up.

I don’t speak spanish well because I am such a huge freaking perfectionist that I would prefer to not open my mouth at all, rather than have something come out wrong. I over think it, and then it gets ugly.

Yes. I am aware that this is unreasonable. And retarded.

I’ve never been intimidated by anyone or anything in my entire life in the way I am by this language. I needed a friend to correct my spanish, but even more, to ease my heart. To remind me that I can make mistakes and that nobody will give a rip. I denied myself that consolation when I declined my friends offers to help. And without it I panicked and fell apart.

And then I tried to blame God.

Which I don’t recommend. Because. You might immediately remember that when God calls he also provides, and then, after you go and mess it all up, He redeems. And that can be painfully humbling, the redeeming part.

Then, when you are laying in bed, feeling sorry for yourself, you could finally realize that God knew exactly who you were, and what you were like, waaay before he brought you to this moment. And that He knew what you would do, or not do, and, still, He brought you here. Because He wanted to redeem you. You might even shed a tear or two in gratitude when you consider your monumental failures, and how God has made up for them, exchanged your weak efforts for great successes. And when you finally realize that God can work through real stupidness, you’ll see that He can speak through a perfectionist in the throws of a panic-attack. He can tell His story even when you toss a royal wrench in it. And then, you might just sleep really, really well for the first time in forever.

If you prayed for me yesterday, thank you. And I’m sorry. I let you down. But I’m resting on God to redeem it.



  1. Anonymous on February 1, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Wow! You're awesome. Sometimes when we're at our worst, God is at his best.
    Soy tan orgulloso de usted, gran trabajo.


  2. Jenna on February 1, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    dude. friend. you didn't let anyone down. not even yourself. you just screwed some words up. but you are right: God will redeem it. he will even used your screwed up words to communicate something significant to those you spoke to. you've got to be less hard on yourself. (and i should practice what i preach in that department.) i'm sorry the whole thing was a disaster. but that's OK!! lesson learned.

    btw. your transparency is an example to us all. thank you.

  3. Pam L on February 1, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    I know what it is like to be extra hard on yourself and choke in front of groups. It has happened to me a couple of times. Maybe more than a couple… Okay, it has happened A LOT. But I now console myself with the fact that the Word of the Lord never returns void. There might be ONE thing or ONE phrase that changes ONE life or has ripple effects you will never see. But God is faithful. You kept your word and got up there in front of those people. God WILL take care of the rest. Maybe He needed you to choke for a very important reason that we don't understand. Maybe you will find out someday… maybe not. Sometimes we have to just trust that it all went down the way it was supposed to…as weird as it may seem to us…

  4. Kirk on February 2, 2010 at 12:07 am

    You inspire me.

  5. Carrie on February 2, 2010 at 2:44 am

    BTDT don't want to repeat it.

    Girl, you are allowed to be imperfect. To fail. To get back up and try again. A million times, even (or at least 70 times 70 LOL!). You are not the first missionary to freak and lose words and certainly won't be the last. If that is any consolation 🙂

    In my heart I'm bringing you a large plate of chocolate chip cookies and milk. We're sitting around the table stuffing our faces and laughing at each others mistakes. It's therapeutic!

    God will use this. He's cool like that.

  6. Zac on February 2, 2010 at 10:44 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Zac on February 2, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Perhaps God really did answer everyones prayers, but just in an ironic fashion…

    I am sure that most of the prayers this month for your speech, mine included, probably contained a phrase like, 'let Your will be done through Jamie's story.'

    Well, perhaps his intended audience wasn't a group of high school students who speak spanish. Perhaps, His will was for you to have this humbling experience so that your story could help others aka your readers.

    I don't think you let anyone down, but yourself. Thanks again for being so transparent.

    Its totally awesome (times 140)!

  8. Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary on February 3, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I feel like I say this alot, and at the risk of having it seem disingenuous, I want you all to know:
    I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY APPRECIATE each and every one of you!!! Thank you – you encourage me!!

  9. Anonymous on February 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I love your blog. Thank you for making us feel like we are not alone in this.
    By the way…I blame God most of the time about my French sucking. Surely he could fix it if He wanted to.

  10. Chris and Brook Cortte on June 5, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I just found your blog yesterday through a friend and I cannot stop reading it! I love it and would love to be half as funny as you! …

    Anyhow, this post was SO for me. I feel the exact same way about my Spanish. My husband is always telling people I'm fluent – which I am NOT! I would also rather not speak at all than look, in my opinion, stupid as I fumble through a conversation.

    It is ironic though, that when I see someone speaking or doing whatever else in front of a group and they are clearly nervous, they are my hero. It is no great feat for a natural to get up there and do their thing…but the scared-out-of-their-mind…I LOVE them!…because they are doing it anyway! Those are the ones I look to and think of when I need inspiration to do something that terrifies me. So all that to say "Thanks" for doing it anyway and sharing your fear.

  11. Fiona on February 18, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Ok, I hope you don't take this the wrong way, because I'm just getting to know you and all, but I feel I have to relay a story of mine that comes to mind when I read this post.

    I had screwed up … like, BIG time. I had sinned in big proportion and was completely ashamed. A year later I was still talking about it and my friend says to me, "Do you believe that God has forgiven you for "said sin"?" Me: "Yes." Friend: "Then why don't you forgive yourself and move on? It's actually quite arrogant to believe that God can and has forgiven you for something, but you can't forgive yourself and think you should keep punishing yourself. I hate to break it to you, but you're not perfect." I know, great friend, right? 😛 I was stunned. "What? ME? Arrogant? Not perfect? Gasp!" But she was right. Why do we expect ourselves to be perfect, when God doesn't expect it? He MADE us imperfect. If we were perfect, we'd be HIM! I had to face that yes, I had screwed up and as sucky as it is, I would again (hopefully not in the same way because maybe I had learned a little something from that situation), but God is a God of grace and forgiveness and that's why He's so amazing. Perfectionist = disappointment with ourselves and that's not a good thing. As long as we keep coming back to God (which you completely did at the end of the post), I think He's kinda ok with(and used to) our screw ups/unperfectness. Why are we so hard on ourselves, then?

    Not sure if that makes sense or not and I'm NOT trying to say you're arrogant at all, but rather trying to make the point to give yourself a break every now and again, because as my friend said to me, "You're not perfect." 😉

  12. dominique on May 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    hi, jamie-
    love how your authenticity, and transparency show through in your writings. right now, (and i've known Jesus for a long time), Abba has me enrolled in a course called "Being Real 101," and i'm lovin' it! keep sharing! you and Jesus are making a lot of sense! 🙂

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