“Everybody makes mistakes…”
We’ve all heard that old adage over and over. Sometimes you use it as a pick me up, to convince yourself to keep trying. Sometimes you want to encourage someone else. I’ve used the adage sparingly, perhaps too sparingly, when dealing with myself. I have been overly critical and tended not to give myself enough slack. I am human, after all. It took me barking instructions at my child to get a grip on myself, and realize that it’s okay to make mistakes.
I was going on barely four hours sleep. It had been this way for several weeks. Not only did I get to bed late, and have to wake up early to take my son to school, but my toddler woke up – twice – during the night. The only thing worse than too little sleep, is too little sleep that is interrupted. So as we rushed for school and my oldest son was taking his sweet time getting ready, my attitude was less than forgiving. I would probably characterize it as downright surly, to be honest.
My son did something – who can remember now – but it was bordering on making us late. My patience was shot. I yelled. I seethed. And then realized how stupid I looked and how little my ranting really mattered. I figured my son would be crushed – he’s a gentle boy and yelling generally upsets him. I went to apologize. He continued preparing for school and briefly looked up at me as he said, “It’s okay mommy. Everybody makes mistakes.”
Now, I could bask in the glow of how brilliant/wonderful/forgiving/Godly my son is (well, okay, he is – #mommoment), or how horrible/mean/selfish of a mother I am (I’m really not). But instead, I choose to focus on the beauty of forgiveness and the freedom it releases into your life.
Generally, we think of forgiveness in terms of forgiving someone who has wronged us, or hurt someone we love. It’s external. But it’s pretty hard to deal with the work it takes to walk in forgiveness with someone else, when you can’t even forgive yourself. What does that mean? How do I do it? Where do I start? Well, I’m glad you asked.
First, give yourself permission to be less than perfect. This is not a license to sin, and then say, hey, everyone’s human. Rather it’s the realization that although you’re doing your best to get it right, stay focused, accomplish your goals and do your best in every arena, sometimes, you’re just going to miss it (see my example above if you have any questions about missing it).
Next, when you make mistakes, don’t beat yourself up. Say it with me – don’t beat yourself up! You may not think you do it. But when you replay what happened, what you could have done, what you should have said, why didn’t you do this or that, you are beating yourself up. You made a mistake. Own it. Then just as importantly, learn from it.
Finally, realize that by not forgiving yourself, you are not doing the Word. “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25, NKJV) Anyone includes you.
Learn from your mistakes. Become wiser. Don’t condemn yourself – be free!
Until next time…