“So no one told you life was gonna be this way…”
If you clapped your hands four times when you read that line, then there’s probably a good chance that you grew up during the era where the American TV sitcom Friends dominated the ratings. Many of us followed the ups and downs of Monica, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Phoebe, and Rachel. The actors involved became huge stars, and we even copied their hairstyles. “The Rachel” became popular across the globe even though Jennifer Aniston is reported to have said it was the most difficult to manage hairstyle she’s ever had! Friends was also responsible for many water cooler moments in offices up and down the country.
One of the unique things about the show was that every title started with “the one…” There was “the one where Ross and Rachel take a break” and who could forget “the one with Ross’s teeth” where he was a little overzealous with a box of tooth whitener. There was also “the one with Chandler in a box,” where, as the title suggests, Chandler spent the entire episode in a box as a punishment for betraying Joey and stealing his girlfriend.
The subplots of our lives can lead us to claim our own Friends style titles. Instead of “the one with…” or “the one where…” we become “the one who…” One significant mistake can redefine how we are seen and the title that others give us. If we’re not careful, then we can let one episode of our lives alter the course of our story.
The Bible is full of people who could have their own “the one who” titles.
David - The one who had an affair and then murdered his lover’s husband
Peter - The one who denied ever knowing Jesus
Elijah - The one who had a breakdown even though God had never left his side
John Mark - The one who left Paul in the lurch
I have made some quite significant, and very public, mistakes in my life and have collected a variety of “the one who” titles so I’m writing from personal experience. I believe that we need to own the mistakes we make in life, and their consequences, but we don’t have to be defined by them.
When you’ve lost your way and made choices that have caused significant hurt and upset, my advice would be to hold up your hands, admit where you’ve gone wrong and do the work needed to repair the situation. It may take time. It may take many difficult conversations and days, months or even years for the forgiveness of others to gradually grow into a restored relationship. Things can’t just immediately go back to how they were before. For those who have been deeply hurt by your actions you might have to wait until the next season of your life, before those wounds truly heal. As you put the pieces back together in this broken episode of your life, then remember the words of Psalm 130:7.
“Hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption.” Psalm 130:7
For those who have tuned into someone’s else’s “the one who” episode then please cover the situation in grace. Be honest about your hurt, take a step back if you need to, but let God work in the life of the person who has fallen short. Ask God to work the situation for good. If we’re honest, then we can sometimes take great delight in the water cooler moments of other people’s lives, thinking that we would never be the topic of such a conversation. The Bible is clear on where we all stand:
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:23-24
We all mess up, and we’re all saved by the same grace.
If you’re in the middle of “the one who” episode of your life then there is hope. I’m living proof that you can work through this plot line, move onto the next season of your life with a deeper understanding of God’s grace and learn how to truly “be there when the rain starts to fall.”