Whenever I think about mistakes I’ve made, I wrestle with a wave of emotions.
Guilt. Shame. Embarrassment. And repeat.
I wonder, what were you thinking? How could you mess up like that? You should have known better.
On and on, my thoughts have gone. But when I’ve been able to calm myself, be still, and process the times I’ve messed up, I’ve also thought, what can you learn from this?
We all make mistakes. Because, truthfully, none of us are perfect. And pretending that you are or holding anyone else to such an impossible, unrealistic, and unattainable standard is more harmful and damaging than helpful.
Sometimes we quickly assume the role of spectator and judge and criticize others, but what about our mistakes? What if the tables turned and we found ourselves at the center of a scandal like some public figures we harshly judge and ridicule? Or stories about our blunders made the front-page news? Or a camera followed our every move and only focused on the times we didn’t get things right?
Are we not deserving of the same forgiveness and grace others hope for in these moments? I imagine we’d want as much grace and understanding as possible.
The thing about making mistakes is that there is always something to be learned. You learn about where you may have been wrong or veered off course. Hopefully, you will know what not to do and how to do better moving forward. You also learn how to be better, not perfect. Because perfection is an illusion. Growth should be our aim.
This isn’t an excuse to not hold yourself accountable or others who have made poor choices. There’s a difference between making a choice and making a mistake. Finding peace, healing, and forgiveness in some situations isn’t always easy or feasible. But when it comes to your past mistakes, I hope you don’t fall apart. Because the thing about life is that as long as you’re still living, you will make mistakes. And you shouldn’t be too harsh on yourself when you make them.
Be patient and compassionate, and forgive yourself. Learn from your mistakes and allow them to shape and develop you and your approach to life moving forward. Do your best to stop wrestling with any guilt, shame, or embarrassment you may feel, and pay close attention to what your life and journey are teaching you. Because many lessons can be learned along the way—even from our mistakes.