Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mistakes Happen

In my renewed, new life, one of the things that I am trying to get used to is this--I am allowed to make mistakes.  Careless, sloppy mistakes that hurt other people are still unacceptable, generally.  But, a wrong choice that costs a little more or an accident that couldn't be avoided are okay.  Okay because I am human and making mistakes is what we humans do.

Because of past circumstances, I had learned to agonize over mistakes.  I had learned to frantically try to cover them up or fix them.  If that wasn't possible, then frequently, I was reminded of them again and again.  I had come to accept that if I made a mistake, my fate was decided, I would have to face the consequences.  A simple, "I'm sorry, I made a mistake." would never be enough.  The thing I had come to really resent were the times I was blamed and accused for things that were not my fault. I didn't make a mistake.  For example, the time a spoon dropped into the garbage disposal and ground up when I was across the room and had not turned on the disposal.  But, it was deemed, my fault.

Because of years and years of this blame and shame, my idea of God's love and mercy had become confused.  I was on the defensive in my life, and I was on the defensive with God too.  I tried never to make a mistake, to be perfect.  But, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't do it.  I made mistakes and sinned and refused to believe that God would or could ever forgive me.  Or maybe I knew He could, but I didn't know for sure that He would.

Now that I am on my own, when I make a mistake there is no one to chastise me.  I can choose to fixate on the mistake or I can say, "Oh, well, I will try not to make that mistake again."  In the few months I have been following this plan, I have finally come to accept myself and my mistakes.  It makes it easier to go to Confession when I am not on the defense all of the time.

My prayer life grows through Scripture reading and the Scriptures lately have spoken to me about mistakes.  One example is the servant who was forgiven a huge debt but then didn't treat his fellow servant with compassion.  In the homily I heard on this, the homilist said that the servant was demanding money from the other because he was still trying to pay off his debt to the master.  He refused to accept forgiveness and mercy for what he owed.  He was trying to repay God.  And he never could.  He needed to accept the grace and mercy.  And what I realized is--so must I.  I can never be good enough to deserve God's love and mercy.  No matter how much penance I do, I can never repay my sins.  I have to accept them as mistakes and move forward.  I need not be sloppy and careless and expose myself to occasions of sin, but, likewise, done is done.  I need to accept God's mercy and forgiveness and forgive myself. Mistakes happen.

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