A few years ago I sent an anniversary card to some friends of ours. Sending cards is an old-fashioned tradition I still love and I add important dates to my calendar to remind me. (That gives me credit for remembering that I honestly don’t deserve.)
After putting the card in the mail, I bumped into these friends while out and made mention of their anniversary coming up. They were very sweet, but reminded me their anniversary was another month and day than I thought.
After I got home I checked my contact list and saw that I had the correct date there, but when I looked at the calendar I realized I had only noticed their names on the date and hadn’t checked why. It wasn’t their anniversary, but a reminder they were to leave on a mission trip that day.
It was a silly mistake and one that was easy to laugh about, but not all of my mistakes are that way. I have made some mistakes in my lifetime that were far more costly.
A funny one our family jokes about now and also was costly happened when we were heading out on a vacation trip. It was one of those we had anticipated for a long time. Our kids were tucked in the back seat shortly after 5AM and with everything seemingly stowed away, we headed out as the kids fell asleep again in the back seat. Several hours later we stopped at the last plaza in our state and aroused the kids to get out and stretch and enjoy doughnuts and orange juice we had brought with us.
As we were all shivering, I walked around the back of our car where the trunk was still open. As I casually looked inside I didn’t see the clothes that were on hangers that my husband and I would need for most of the 10-day trip. I walked over to my husband and asked where he had put them.
It was then that he realized they were still hanging in the hall closet at home. We had traveled three hours by then and faced the dilemma of what to do. We could keep going and try to buy clothes on the way or turn around and go get the clothes. Ugh!! We were groaning over the lack of a better set of choices.
We realized that finding clothes would cost us in time we didn’t want to waste and also fray a budget already stretched tight. The cost of driving back seemed like the least costly option even though it meant driving back three hours in the direction we had just come from. There was a caveat that we called my parents who met us at the entrance to the turnpike we had first entered that saved us a little bit of time.
We picked up the clothes and headed back on the road again trying to handle our frustration at the cost in mileage and time. We stopped at the same plaza for lunch where we had enjoyed doughnuts earlier. It was a mistake we never made again on our many vacation trips.
“The thing about mistakes is, they become valuable when you learn from them.”
Lisa Wingate in The Sea Keeper’s Daughter
We all make them and hate it when we do. Maybe it’s because of the cost of some of them to others or us. Maybe it’s because it spotlights a flaw. The cause doesn’t change the feelings we have when we make them even though they do become valuable if we learn from them.
Some of us, however, get stuck. We start to believe we are defective because of our mistakes instead of recognizing we are human and prone to make mistakes. When we get stuck in that erroneous pattern of thinking, we paradoxically set ourselves up to more likely make the mistakes we fear. Our overreaction results in messing up.
The peril of getting stuck in “mistake mentality” sets us up to also be tempted to make bad choices. It started in Eden when Cain, the farmer, and Abel, the shepherd, each made a sacrificial offering to the Lord. Abel’s pleased the Lord and Cain’s did not. Cain couldn’t handle the mistake and loss of favor from the Lord. He hated Abel’s favor and chose to murder him because of it.
The temptation to condemn ourselves when we make mistakes of any size plays into the devices of the evil one who nudges us to believe lies about the whole situation. Left unchallenged, we can become prisoners to the lies and miss the extraordinary things God has in store for us.
Our best response to mistakes is to humbly accept we made them and correct anything we can, recognize we can receive grace for them, learn from them, and walk in freedom while still knowing there will be other mistakes ahead.
“How sad, I think now, to live an entire life blinded by the ordinary, when the path to the extraordinary waits just beyond the well-meaning prisons of your own making.”
Lisa Wingate in The Sea Keeper’s Daughter