We are our hardest critics. We make simple lapses, forget to do things, and make mistakes by intention to do better, and we are so hard on ourselves. But there is a fundamental matter we cannot change about our humanity: we are perfectly broken. We will have slips—embarrassing and pitiful and damaging—as well as errors of judgment, for which we can call mistakes. No matter how hard we try we are condemned to this condition of perfect brokenness. The good news is everyone else is too!
That’s not the end of the story, however. Failure is actually the beginning. Failure we can rejoice in, simply because out of failure and our handling of such disasters comes opportunities to glorify God.
Hear this powerful truth:
“A virtuoso is not someone who never makes an error, but someone who detects and recovers from the error.”
— Professor James Reason CBE
(Human error expert)
When we are mindful we can detect errors before they occur. But time after time we will be absent-minded. On these occasions our task is recovery, for the damage is often already done. This is nothing to be embarrassed about. Indeed, it won’t be the last error or mistake we make, and recoveries are glorious to the revealing of our characters.
Think of the last time you were in the kitchen, making a pot of tea or brewing coffee. Ever lose count along the way? Ever put water in the teapot without having put the tea in? Ever pour someone coffee when they wanted tea? Ever made a coffee and put the milk back in the fridge before you had actually used it? These are common errors where our minds take seconds-long vacations. No wonder so many accidents happen.
Receiving God’s Grace, Not the Devil’s Condemnation
A crucial idea to master in the walk toward Christian maturity is this idea of receiving God’s merciful grace upon our own understanding, such that we can laugh at ourselves in nice ways instead of berating ourselves for the errors and mistakes we make.
This is a big leap for some, but something relatively easy for others.
If the devil cannot crush our sense-of-self for the slips, lapses, and mistakes we make, we make a resilient servant of God. In not letting the devil have a foothold we engage with God through Divine merciful grace; to the ends of tranquil inner peace.
We are commensurately blessed with humility. That is, we neither get behind nor get ahead of ourselves. Our thoughts of ourselves stay right where God wants them. We are to be even-minded in our judgments of ourselves. Neither are we totally brilliant nor completely inept.
Why are we so hard on ourselves? Everyone has slips, lapses, and all make mistakes. No matter who we are we are fallible. It’s a great thing when we can go easier on ourselves when things go wrong, whilst having the courageous poise to put situations right.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.