I love free stuff. Coupons that have the word “free” on it are basically what has gotten me through college this year.
You know what I love more than free? Free food. It brings unnatural joy to my stomach when I get good food at little or no cost to me.
So yesterday, I was really happy. Why was I happy? Free Chipotle.
Why was Chipotle free for me yesterday? Because Chipotle was closed on Monday for protocol meetings brought on by the recent e. Coli situation, and as a way to say sorry, they offered people who texted a certain number on that day a free burrito. Luckily, I have a 100% success rate in not getting e. Coli from my beloved burrito consumption, so I’ll gladly take a free burrito.
Chipotle is in the process of bouncing back from this stain on their fast food shirt, and they’re handling it in the most effective and valiant way possible. They’re demonstrating that you can come back from problems that could ruin your future.
We’ve all made mistakes and had some sort of blemish on our reputation. There’s been some time in our lives where we’ve broken the rules and had to deal with consequences. In my life alone, I’ve made terrible choices that have had possibly life-changing consequences, so even as someone who’s been in ministry I’m not exempt from bad choices.
I’ve been in the places where no one should’ve been, caused problems that could’ve ruined my future, and by the grace of God and the grace of others have come out on the other end to see another day.
What’s important about our problems isn’t the problem itself; it’s how we act in light of the problems we’ve caused. It’s how we recover from the failure and seek to regain our integrity.
Our problems usually come from one of two circumstances: we’ve had a compromise in our integrity, or someone else’s integrity has been compromised which affects us as a result.
In the moment, we see no way out of the situation. We think that it’s all over. We prepare for our careers to end, our lives to change, and honestly for the absolute worst to happen to us. We see no recovery possible.
Based on personal experience and other examples, I can emphatically deny that everything ends once we compromise our integrity. We can have a comeback from our failures.
Let’s start with a case that dominated national news.
Does anyone remember when Kobe Bryant was charged with sexual assault back in 2003? Bryant was accused of raping one of the hotel employees at the hotel where he was staying prior to getting surgery. He and the woman who accused him ended up settling the case out of court. But no one really remembers this.
It’s a distant memory in the back of our minds. Why?
Because Kobe rose above the circumstances. Instead of wallowing in the aftermath of his problem, he put his nose to the grindstone, kept out of trouble, and focused on his craft. He laid low for awhile, worked on improving his game, and most importantly, worked on improving his integrity.
That’s why barely anyone remembers the scandal. He didn’t wallow in the aftermath of the problem; he worked on the cause of his problem in order to make sure it didn’t happen again, and let his accomplishments in his career overshadow everything.
Now, we don’t know whether or not Kobe is a Christian, but regardless of his religious affiliation or lack thereof, we can still learn from his example of making a comeback after a fall.
Here’s what we can learn:
Deal with the Problem
I know it’s the kind-of-obvious first step, but sometimes we as people choose not to face our problems head first. We decide to bury it down deep in our emotional and mental vaults and forget that it even happened in the first place. We repress it from our memories in order to try and move forward.
Trust me: that’s a terrible idea. If you know anything about gardening, then you know that just cutting away the branches, the symptoms that have displayed themselves through actions, won’t alleviate the entire problem. If you want a tree gone, you have to remove the root.
The same rings true with our problems.
We have to investigate the branches, the symptoms that have made their way into our daily lives and ended up causing us to compromise our integrity. Once we identify what those symptoms are, we have to dig even deeper into the dirty, gritty, ugly problem and figure out why these symptoms occurred.
You don’t have to do that alone. People who you trust and who have your best interest in mind will gladly and willingly help if you reach out to them.
Once you’ve identified why the compromise occurred, you have to press forward into the future and into recovery.
You’re going to get weird looks. Your capability is going to be questioned. Your credibility will be challenged.
But, if you keep your head down and run head first into what you’re doing, then that will only last for a little while.
If you press into the tasks that you’ve been given and complete them with your utmost effort, if you go above and beyond what’s expected of you, all while keeping humble, the whispers will stop. The questioning will cease. The doubting will end.
People will see that you’re rising above your setback and that you’re making a comeback, and if you’re going above and beyond expectations, your comeback will result in a better outcome than you ever planned.
Set up Boundaries
Moving forward into recovery isn’t the end.
If you’re going to continue to rise above the setback, you have to make sure that your comeback cannot and will not be compromised.
Setting up boundaries, such as accountability from others, restrictions on locations/times/people/etc., and proper scheduling, will ensure that the original problem won’t happen again.
In setting up boundaries, you have to be honest, whether with yourself or with other people. In order for boundaries to work, you can’t be fake. If you’re fake, then the progress you’re making isn’t progress for your true self; it’s for the facade that you’ve created.
I’ve failed morally and made a downright terrible choice to do what I wanted instead of what was right. It could’ve cost me my job. It could’ve cost me my reputation. It could’ve ended my career.
But, that setback wasn’t the end. With the help of others seeking to restore me back to full operation, we dealt with why the problem happened. We developed a plan for me to keep focused and keep my head down as I ran full force into the future. We set up boundaries so that I could recover fully and never slip into that place again.
Even though I moved on from where I was into the future and into a different place, I never could’ve done that, had I not sought to make a comeback. If I never would’ve taken the time to recover from the setback, I never could’ve made a comeback and been as strong as I am today.
Yes, I still fail. Yes, I still make mistakes. Yes, I still choose wrong. But, the boundaries and accountability that are in place help me to spring back onto the straight and narrow.
The same kind of boundaries in your life can certainly spring you back into pressing forward.