Mistakes.......everybody makes them, right? I mean nobody is perfect. I have heard this my whole life. Yet, even though that is true the real message I was receiving was.....don't make a mistake. I can say that this message was being received from very early on in my life. I observed the way people responded to the mistakes of others, usually with ridicule, condemnation, and punishment. I observed the way people responded to their own mistakes, usually with little to no responsibility. Yet, I kept hearing things like "nobody is perfect" or "everybody makes mistakes ". When I became a believer in Jesus and started going to church as a child, "mistake" took on another definition, "sin". So by the time I reached late elementary school the internal dialogue in my mind went something like this....
"Do not make a mistake"
"Joy, don't mess up"
"Joy, don't tell anyone you made a mistake"
"Joy, just do what you are supposed to and everything will be okay"
I am quite positive that my decision to follow Christ as a second grader was at least somewhat influenced by this. It is kind of hard to be a powerful person and make powerful choices if you always find yourself basing your decisions on "what would my mom say?". By high school I was an expert at doing what I was supposed to as decided by my mom, teachers, church, culture, etc.
So I very vividly remember the first time I exercised my ability to make a choice on my own. It was when I told my mom I was getting married. I was 18 and madly in love with a guy I had known since I was in 6 th grade. I just knew that he was the one for me. We were already in the midst of planning a wedding for late spring when I had a Jerry McGuire moment. I'm not kidding! We had gone to dinner and a movie, "Jerry McGuire" for his 21st birthday. The days after that movie I had this "revelation" that I didn't want to wait any longer to be married.......fortunately, he was on board with
this as well! So I planned to tell my mom. I knew she would not be happy and would disapprove, but I was determined. We were married 3 weeks later. After that came a string of other powerful choices that I made, guess I was on a "power trip". Some of them were good, some....not so much. I got to the place where I was willing to face the consequences, but I had no idea what to do with the pain and guilt with each poor choice. So I totally didn't know what to do when God blessed me with a daughter who was not afraid of making mistakes. Imagine my confusion with this approach to life. She craves her freedom and demands it. I love it that she isn't afraid to take a risk. I know that eventually wisdom will meet up with this approach and make a very nice match! I have come to realize that not only was I afraid of my mistakes, but I was also afraid of others. So what did I do? I tried to squash it.......another mistake.
God is good and full of grace! This is what He is teaching me:
Mistakes are okay. He is okay with me making a mistake. He has limitless grace for every mistake. Have you ever heard someone say, "I guess that person just has to learn things the hard way."? I always took that as if it were some sort of character flaw if someone was like that. What if it wasn't a character flaw? I have found that most people that learn that way (which I think, if we were honest, we all do somewhat) are okay with it. It is other people who are not okay with it.
I want to propose that every mistake carries the possibility of yielding something extremely positive and life-giving. Are there consequences? Is there potential for pain? Yes, but it is God's grace that makes it possible for us to walk away from a mistake having received a truth or a revelation about God or ourselves. At that point we have the GOLD.......and that is the only thing we need to take away from it. Regret, guilt, etc has no ability to add anything to your life. However, His love, truth and grace is abundant life! This is the redeeming, finished work of Christ! For me, I want to send the message to my family, friends, etc. that I am not afraid of their mistakes. I trust the Father to work His redeeming love in their lives. I have started, as part of my journaling, to keep a record of these Gold Nuggets I walk away with. My Heavenly Father does not keep a record of my/others mistakes, nor will I. It is my hope and intention to also model the response of my Father to others who make mistakes by offering grace and love.
I am still in process and growing in this area. I am learning everyday about how healthy relationships thrive in freedom, love, and trust. Fear is a huge relationship killer. I don't have all the answers but thus is what I've learned so far. I hope this post will inspire and encourage someone!