Okay! Your day is going pretty good. You’re cruising from one thing to another. Ticking off the boxes and lo and behold accomplishing some stuff. You’ve even had your first cup of coffee or tea. You are dressed. I mean, dressed in something you would not be embarrassed to answer the door in. Clothes you could leave the house wearing without wondering how much the car door really covers you and how much other commuters can see of you.
You are going along fine and then bam!!! You make a mistake.
Nothing earth shattering, but an honest to goodness mistake.
Maybe you spill coffee on the couch as you are trying to have an intentional moment. Maybe you misread the calendar and now the dentist is calling to ask where little Johnny’s mouth is. Maybe you are eating some of that banana bread you made late last night and you realize after your first bite that you left out the bananas. Maybe the sugar. Oh no, tastes like both. Maybe you realize with a sinking feeling that you forgot to let the cat in last night and that is why it is now howling like its caught in a bear trap.
Use your imagination. Come up with a mistake. I am sure you can.
Maybe twenty past mistakes are flooding your mind. Stop! That is enough!
Now let me ask, “What do you do when you discover you have made a mistake?”
What do you do when you discover your children, your friends, your mate, your dog, the grocery checker or your pet turtle has made a mistake?
Do you say, “Yeah for mistakes?”
Okay, let’s be honest. If you are the one who made the mistake do you:
1. Call yourself names? (Stupid)
2. Beat yourself up? (I can’t believe you forgot to add the flour to the pancakes. How many times have you made those exact pancakes?) [notice I used second person as many of us talk to our self in second person.]
3. Feel guilty? (Time to do penance, make a long face, deny yourself all happiness and pleasure for a time period. Maybe even don’t eat anything for a while.)
4. Let the mistake ruin your day? (Oh no. Now I’ve really ruined things for everyone. All the joy you have been feeling before your mistake now deflates from your soul.)
5. Lecture yourself? (Maybe in your mother’s voice, or someone else’s.)
6. Blame someone else? (It’s so and so’s fault that I got distracted.)
7. Equate the mistake with the same seriousness as a sin? (Two totally different things, as we will soon see.)
Growing up I wanted to please others and do my best. I was on a quest for perfection. I felt if I could order my life and environment and responses to perfection, then life would flow smoothly. No one would get upset with me. Things would be perfect.
Somewhere along the way I equated mistakes with the same seriousness as sin. Both were to be avoided at all costs.
Every try to be perfect? It takes so much energy. Thinking. Calculating. And it takes all the fun from life and instead throws into your heart a lot of fear and stress and it promotes lies about life and yourself.
I don’t know about you, but trying to get through life without making mistakes is impossible. I can’t even get through one day without making a mistake. Usually more.
I bet you can’t either. Unless you are sleeping all day, in a comma, or in the cold room of the mortuary. (If you are in the last category, your days of mistakes are over and you can stop reading now.)
As for how I handle mistakes, I have done all the above at different times and for different circumstances. But now I am on a quest to yell, okay, maybe not always yell, “Yeah for mistakes.”
Humans make mistakes and in case you haven’t lately noticed, you and I are humans, which means we will make mistakes. Lots of mistakes. This means, life is full of mistakes. Yours and others.
Sin or Mistake?
Now let’s look at the difference between a mistake and a sin, according to our friend Webster.
Mistake means, 1. a misunderstanding; a wrong judgement, 2. a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge, or inattention.
Synonyms include: error, blunder, slip, miscalculation, misjudgment, misstep.
Sin means, 1. a: an offense against religious or moral law, b: an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible, c: an often-serious shortcoming. 2. a: transgression of the law of God, b: a vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.
Synonyms include: offense, vice, crime, scandal
One is an error or blunder, the other is breaking a religious law. One is not serious, the other is.
A sin and a mistake are not opposites, but they are also not similar to each other.
I can make a mistake, such as forget to put the wash in the dryer and therefore the clothes start to mold, but that mistake is due to inattention. It is a mistake, plain and simple. It is not a sin or a scandal, or even a crime.
There are lots of ways to make mistakes.
I can add up a list of numbers and come up with the wrong answer because I don’t know how to add, I forgot to carry some numbers, I misread some numbers, or maybe I don’t know how to add lists of numbers.
I can be learning to shoot baskets and fail 90 times out of 100 to make a basket. This can be due to not understanding how to shoot and use the back board, miscalculation of how hard to toss the ball, the placement of my hands on the ball, or lots of other reasons.
I can fail to pay the telephone bill because I did not get a statement, I forgot to read my calendar and see it was due, or I was in on the beach in the Caribbean trying to get warm.
I can back out of the garage before the garage door is fully open and dent the garage door.
I can say something stupid and hurt someone’s feelings without even trying or knowing I did.
I can write a text message and close the window before I send the text, thinking the text is sent.
I can go to the grocery store with the express purpose of buying ginger, and then get home with 35 other items and no ginger ale, ginger root, ginger cookies, or ginger spice.
I can back over and crush my kids tricycle because I didn’t know it was there.
All the things I mentioned are mistakes. None are deliberate. None are breaking a religious or moral code. None were pre-planned. None were intentional.
Mistakes happen all the time. They are a part of life. So let’s quit beating ourselves up and instead yell, “Yeah, for mistakes.”
Okay, whisper, “Yeah, for mistakes.”
Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes and then use them to your advantage.
This post is part 1 of a series about mistakes. Stay tuned for future posts, which will explore:
How to Respond to Mistakes – Yours and Others
Why Mistakes Are Necessary
Dispelling the Lies of Mistakes that Steal Your Joy
Teaching Our Children to Make Mistakes and Responding to Their Mistakes in a Healthy Manner
Bonus: Life as is Comes will be exploring a funny episode on mistakes. Episode 31; Have You Pulled a Theresa?
Join the Discussion: What do you tend to do when you make a mistake?