Posted by Mary Beth Dahl on July 20, 2015
They totally destroy that picture we have of ourselves getting stuff right on the first try.
But that’s not reality.
We make mistakes. We screw up. We take a wrong turn, forget appointments, bounce checks, and let others down. We don’t mean to. We don’t want to be that person, but then there it is again, and we’ve royally stepped in it, and no matter how much we try to pawn it off on someone else, we still know deep down, we didn’t measure up. There’s a flaw in there, and it’s not easily fixed.
So what now? Here are a few ideas that might help.
Step 1 – Acknowledge it. Don’t ignore it.
It happened. The sooner we face it, the sooner we can put it behind us. And don’t just sit there feeling bad about it. Remorse and regret are one thing, but our feeling bad about something doesn’t actually move anybody forward. It just tells us that something’s up and needs to be addressed.
Step 2 – Own it. Don’t cast blame.
Ever since the garden, people have been pointing the finger. What’s it going to take for us to take responsibility for our decisions? It’s an irony of sorts. Man wants desperately to be in control of his destiny, but when things don’t go his way, he relinquishes his control to someone else. It was their fault. That kind of thinking is useless to your healing. If you missed an appointment, it does no good to blame the happy ducks who waddled in slow motion across the road in front of you. Be a grown up and take responsibility otherwise you’ll forever be at the mercy of the next person you blame.
Step 3 – Understand it. Don’t underestimate it.
Your next task is to figure out what’s going on. Why did the mistake happen? Was it the ducks or maybe there was something else afoul. Figuring out the Why may not change anything or wipe away consequences, but it’s an important step in the growing process. We can underestimate our mistakes when we play them off as no big deal. Missing that appointment may not be a big deal, but maybe there’s more to it. Why did we forget that appointment? Were we too busy? Avoiding the doctor? Enjoying wildlife? What was going on?
Mistakes can be defining moments in our lives. They can be crossroads—places where we see something that needs some changing. What kind of person do you want to be? That’s your decision. The mistake doesn’t get to make that call. I may have missed an appointment, but I do not have to be the kind of slacker who pays no attention to anyone else’s schedule. I’m a caring person. Punctual, and I’m working toward those characteristics. The mistake doesn’t get to take that from me. It can, however, illuminate areas needing attention. And remember in the grand scheme, you are a child of God, totally forgiven and completely loved. Mistakes can NEVER change that.
Step 5 – Leave it. Don’t let it hold you back.
Mistakes can stop us, but they should never hold us back. Our mistakes should be more about what happens after them than what happened before. I believe it’s possible to come to the other side of any mistake and find love and wholeness. That may only be possible in the holy arms of God, but I believe it is possible.
Maybe these steps are too simple. I’m no expert, , Although I do think that having made my fair share of mistakes and spent way too much time feeling bad about them rather than growing from them does give me some experience from which to share. Now it’s your turn. What would you suggest? What’s the best way for a person to move past a mistake?