Living with Mistakes

As you spiritually mature, you can forgive your own—and others’—mistakes.

Finally, everything belongs. You are eventually able to say, from some larger place that may surprise you, “It is what it is” and “Even the ‘bad’ was good.
— Richard Rohr*

Brothers & Sisters,

Perfection. The existence of this word is perplexing and has vexed humans forever. Why should such a word exist when it is never attainable by humans? We are at our core flawed in every way and will never be the perfection that so many people strive to be.

Our emotions rattle us to the very depths of our souls constantly. Most of the time this is perfectly acceptable as without feeling we're just lifeless sacks of meat floating through this life right? We don't want to be sniveling messes that are crying, laughing, smiling and wincing in pain all the time. However, something deep within us regulates our emotional responses throughout the day, and while some of us react "harder" than others, I think we can all agree that we're continually controlling our feelings on some other level that is probably foreign to us.

Things take a sharp turn when we make a mistake that hurts someone else. I'm using the term hurt to indicate anger or sadness here as I believe both of those things are a form of pain. Suddenly we're thrust into this (hopefully) sudden state or regret and sorrow. I firmly believe that people, when confronted with a mistake they've made, go through the following steps:

  1. Realization
  2. Grief & Regret 
  3. Reparation (not everyone)
  4. Moving on and living with the Mistake

I believe these are relatively self-explanatory; however, I'd like to expand on the fourth point about living with the mistake. I've seen mistakes eat people from the insides until they're a shell of the human they used to be. They carry along that mistake in the baggage of their lives until the end of their days. They wear it on on their face, and you can see it. They're even more broken than we all already are and never actually went through the third step. If you don't make amends for your mistakes, I firmly believe that you can never really move on and you'll dwell in the pig stye that is your mistake until one of two things happen: you die, or you face it, fix it and truly begin to heal.

Say you made good on your mistake and had successfully started down the road of living with the error you made. Things gradually get better, you remove your head from the jaws of the lion and slowly and steadily move back towards that grace-filled state that we're meant to be living within. One of the critical pieces to living with a mistake you've made is understanding how it has made you grow as a human. It's not a cliche when you need to learn from your mistakes. Each one (and we'll make many in our lifetimes) is a moment on the path to for us to understand and achieve intellectual and emotional growth. 

Don't dwell on the error for very long; it'll take over and begin to poison the well. Accept that it's part of the path you're on, take the good with the bad, educate yourself not to make a mistake again and take the next step on your road of life. I don't want to diminish the fact that some errors are far more grave than others, however, at their very root they're all the same, and we can move on from them.

Find the good in the bad, always.

Yours,
Jeff

Photo by Matthew Kerslake on Unsplash
*See Everything; Judge Little; Forgive Much by Richard Rohr