I have a fear of becoming blind to my failures.
Sure: It’s not healthy to fixate failure, but it’s equally disastrous to slip into comfortable numbness and ignore them. So, I try to keep on the look out for them. Listening to the advice of my friends, and paying special attention when I’m surprised by by something I’ve done. Once I’m aware of my mistake, here’s how I like to respond (and…here’s how I wish I responded every time!):
PAUSE & ADMIT
Once my failure has been brought to my attention (another subject all together), the first thing I have to do is slow down and stop to rest in the idea of being wrong. This creates the space for me to consider the implications of my mistake.
Generally, when I fail, I thank God for his unchanging, uncompromising love. He’s still there no matter what. I’ll say to God: “I blew it. You never do. Thanks for being with me even when I make a royal mess.” I take comfort in the fact that no matter how bad things are, God’s love is constant. I want my failures to build my trust.
CONSIDER WHAT WHEN WRONG
I move into an analytical mode to answer the question: HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? Usually my reflections reveal a poor assumption, selfish desire or careless impulse. Most of my mistakes happen because I’m thinking poorly, self centered, or asleep at the wheel. Some mistakes are unavoidable, and this is great to discern because it beats back the guilt. Also: Most unavoidable mistakes only are unavoidable the first time we face them.
MAKE IT RIGHT
In the aftermath of my mistake, if there’s something I can do to pick up the pieces, I’ll make things right by apologizing or whoever it takes. Haven’t yet developed a liking for humble pie.
CAPTURE THE LESSON
If the mistake was big enough, I’ll capture the lesson in a sentence so I cant minimize the chances of there being a next time. I’ve been keeping this collection of lessons since I was a freshman in high school and I read through them twice a week. I really hate it when I have to learn the same lesson twice.
TELL A FRIEND
Processing by myself is enough for most of my everyday mistakes, but when I need more perspective, I talk to someone I trust and respect. I happen to trust and respect a lot of people, so sometimes I’ll tell “everyone” I know about a mistake (they get sick of it.)
Typically, I don’t take myself too seriously, but I want to keep it that way! Mistakes can be funny, and when they happen to other people I laugh, so I should probably laugh at myself as well!
I want my failures to also lead to more compassion and less judgement. Forgiven much, loves much.
REST IN GOD’S GRACE
Personally, I don’t tend to get gridlocked with guilt, but I can get over-focused on what mis-steps I took to led to my failure. I need to receive and rest in God’s grace gift and focus on moving forward.
This is a nice and neat little list. Of course, in my real world, things are much more messy in my heart. I’ve tired to dissect the process in case it might be helpful. What about you? After you’ve found you’ve made a mistake, what’s your ideal response?