Little did I know the funny mistake I was about to make.
The zoo ranks as one of the best in the nation. It’s wonderful, and we had been there several times, but this time was different. This time, for the first time ever, we didn’t have to take a stroller.
We strutted up to the zoo gates with the wind in our hair and a feeling of liberation.
But that feeling of freedom didn’t last long. A couple hours later, the kids got tired and asked, “Can I have a shoulder ride, Mom?”
Sure, why not? Carry around 50 extra pounds of weight — no big deal! My husband hoisted our oldest son onto his shoulders, and I had our youngest son on mine as we entered the monkey exhibit.
Thirsty from being a source of transportation for my child, I carefully balanced Cooper on my shoulders as I unscrewed the lid of my $3 Cherry Pepsi to get a quick drink.
At that exact moment, my oldest son decided he didn’t want to be on my husband’s shoulders anymore. He swung his leg around to hop down and promptly collided with my hand, sending soda spewing through the air in a gravity-defying arch.
With quick reflexes, my husband bobbled for the bottle like a football player trying to catch a Hail Mary pass. This sent the bottle spinning in a loop de loop pattern, spraying Pepsi everywhere as it went.
But here’s the worst part — oh, this is bad.
Just then some poor, unsuspecting mom was walking past us. Like a slow motion replay, I watched as every twist of the Pepsi bottle pummeled her coral colored blouse with sticky, brown pop.
Then, with one last final spin, Pepsi splashed right into her mouth — HER MOUTH!
It was disgusting. I was mortified. All I could say was, “I’m so sorry! I’m not sick! I’m so sorry!” as she attempted to spit my Pepsi out of her mouth.
“I’m not sick…,” nice one, Jenni. But I didn’t know what else to say as my Cherry Pepsi dripped from her face!
I continued to apologize profusely and lamely offered her a wet wipe. I didn’t know what else to do to fix the mistake.
With a dazed look, she shook her head and said they had wipes. Then we parted ways with my embarrassed apologies still hanging in the air.
For the rest of our visit, I obsessed over that unfortunate series of events.
I couldn’t let go of this mistake
Again and again I went over the interaction in my head.
What could I have done differently? Was there some way I could have prevented it? Why did I have to take a drink right at that very moment?
But it was just a freak accident. I didn’t do it on purpose. There’s nothing I could have done to control or stop the situation.
There will always be things in our past we wish we could change. Many of them, much more serious than the “Pepsi incident,” can haunt us with guilt and shame for years.
But God doesn’t want us to live bogged down with all our past shame and guilt.
God wants us to be free.
We can’t change the past. We can’t un-spill the Cherry Pepsi.
What we can do is apologize to God (and other people). Then let go of the past so our hands and hearts are free to reach toward the freedom God is offering us right now.
If you’re thinking about starting your own prayer group, thoughts from your past might creep in trying to convince you that you’re not worthy or good enough to lead a group.
But the truth is, none of us are really are. Most of us (myself included) have done much worse than accidentally spilling Pepsi in someone mouth.
One big mistake you can make if you feel God calling you to start a prayer group is to focus in on all the things you regret in your past and let that stop you in your tracks.
Instead, press forward, because the fact that you are not perfect only makes you more perfect for helping women connect with each other and with Jesus.
Prayer of the day: God, please give us the grace to forgive ourselves so we can embrace the freedom you’re offering us.