Managing Our Mistakes

The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-Charge - Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

It’s not easy being human. We make mistakes. And some of our faux pas are made in public resulting in embarrassment. “How could I have been so stupid not to have my facts right?” We beat ourselves up and then pout. Mistakes we make that hurt others can usually be forgiven, after an apology. Hurtful things we do to ourselves eventually have to be released. As the saying goes, there is a limit to the amount of time we should take to “cry over spilled milk.”

We were born with the human condition – and that condition is not perfect. We are works in progress as we strive to become the kind of person we were meant to be. Ideally we pray to become more like the image and likeness of God which radiates love. And we would like to be seen in a good light by others to receive their acceptance, affection, and esteem. We pursue these endeavors for personal satisfaction and for the benefit of others. If our primary efforts are to look good for others, however, we become

spectators to our own actions. A good deed may not be intended for the benefit of someone else, but for others to admire us. Any focus on kindness and generosity becomes self-serving.

Some risk being a person for others even if they make mistakes. For them mistakes are not as important as the good that can be done by serving others. Instead of being critical observers of themselves, they risk embarrassment to be an agent for good. This is their method of managing mistakes.

Learning to accept our human condition and its limitations takes time. It also takes a lot of humility, often learned by being humiliated. But God would not want us to be ashamed of our humanity. We are each a gift of God’s creation. God sees us as we are and who we can become in a relationship with the Divine. Too much worry about our mistakes only binds us to the mistake. God’s love is offered to free us to be spontaneous and natural.

Richard Rohr, a well known writer and Franciscan, prays for one humiliation each day. Apparently it brings him back to the reality of what his true self is meant to be. For him and for us a way to manage our mistakes is to see ourselves as we are, fallible and forgiven, and then move on with humility in love and service.

The Rev. Geoffrey Butcher, Priest-in-Charge

Trinity Episcopal Church, Russellville

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