When you saw the title of this blog you probably begin to think of the marital, financial, and occupational mistakes ad infinitum. I’ve heard it said, "the greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually fear you will make one.” As we grow older, our list of debacles grow longer, reminding us “how far we haven't come" instead of "how far we have come." Our negative and critical thoughts are like Velcro; they have a stickiness quality. Our positive thoughts are like Teflon; they slide off of us as soon as we experience them. Neuroscience has proven our brains have a negative bias; the brain prefers to orbit around negative and problematic situations. When a positive or unproblematic situation comes into our lives, we have to consciously focus on it for at least fifteen seconds before it can become a part of our memory; otherwise it doesn’t stick. The first person to judge us everyday is not our spouse, family members or peers. The first person to judge us everyday is the one we see in the mirror. Then we go out to meet the day mirroring what we have seen ourselves to be.
The seriousness of our situation often eclipses the greater reality of who He is and all that He has done so many times before we made mistakes. We tend to accuse Him of indifference when we misinterpret His ultimate intentions. The probable causes you to lose sight of His promises. The law of probability in its simplest definition is that given what has happened to others will likely happen to you. When we allow the law of probability to govern our lives, we live in survival mode. The challenges that may have a very simple solution fester to the point that you count the days you have left rather than celebrating the one you are presently in. We have a choice everyday to take what is happening to us seriously or to take Him and His promises seriously.
“At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.” Michael Law
Perfectionism doesn't make an allowance for practice shots. Perfectionism has never heard the adage anything worth doing is worth doing badly. If we allow ourselves to do something badly we might in time become quite good at it. Perfectionism measures our beginner's work against the perfected finished work of masters. Perfectionism is fueled and exacerbated by comparison and competition. It doesn't know how to say, "Good try," or "Job well done." It is commendable to want to do things with excellence, but when we become paralyzed by the need for perfection we exclude God's involvement in our lives. "He is the author and finisher of our faith" Hebrews 12:2. Our obsession with perfection precludes His work of perfecting us. I’ve been learning more and more about the spirituality of imperfection lately. It sure doesn't feel spiritual, but I think being perfectly imperfect is the path to growth. Maybe we grow more spiritually by doing it wrong than by doing it right. What if a "perfect person" is one who can forgive and include imperfection instead of someone who is above imperfection? It is not our strength, or faith, or competence that attracts God to us...it is our weakness. Making mistakes, getting it almost right, and experimenting to see what happens are all part of the process of eventually getting it right.
We all have a tendency to take ourselves too seriously, some more than others. Our mistakes don't make us unworthy of God’s love. Mistakes keep us grounded in our humanity and acquainted with our need for humility. Did you know that the words, human, humility and humor all share the same common Indo-European root word, translated by the English "humus"? What is humus? Humus is the intentional and careful combining of rotting vegetable matter. This process is called composting. Composting produces rich organic materials that facilitate healthy growth. Our mistakes may embarrass us but they don't embarrass God. There is a reason the story of humanity started in a garden where the ultimate mistake was made. God has taken the compost of human history and nurtured in us the story of restoration and fruitfulness. You are not going through something as much as you are growing through it.