Mistakes. Some people blow them off with a flippant or devil-may-care attitude while others live in horror of actually making one. And yet mistakes are inevitable.
Surely some mistakes are serious. Running a red light might endanger the lives of self and others. A surgeon’s mistake could permanently maim or even kill a patient. A lawyer’s mistake could cost a client his freedom.
Thankfully, most mistakes are far less troublesome. In fact, mistakes are to be expected when a person is learning something new. However, fear of mistakes can be paralyzing to perfectionistic souls.
None of us started out that way. Babies, for instance, have no fear of mistakes. All of life is a learning experience to them, and they know no shame or embarrassment. Witness a baby struggling to turn over. So many tries. So many failures. Yet eventually they get it right and can turn over at will.
I remember my own children’s struggles to learn to stand. Oh, how much effort they expended to pull themselves up by table or chair, only to fall again and sometimes injure themselves in the process. But try, try again, they did until they mastered standing on their own. Similarly, there were great efforts in learning to walk. Sometimes bruised in their pursuits, they were never embarrassed or discouraged by their failures along the way.
So why do some of us put so much pressure on ourselves to be “perfect”? And perfect in whose eyes? For whom are we performing? Is our self-worth so wrapped up in our performance that we forget our intrinsic worth as a creation in the image of God?
On the other extreme are those souls who seem to have no desire to master anything and have no sense of guilt when their mistakes cost others time, inconvenience, or stress. Do these people have no conscience? No concern for anyone but themselves?
I know people in both categories. One will hang back from doing things she really wants to do for fear of looking foolish if she doesn’t perform up to expectation or as well as those already skilled in the task. Really, this is silly. She needs to be more like a little child, un-self-conscious, unafraid of others opinions of her and uncritical of herself.
The other could use an infusion of—what –conscience? She rails against the incompetence of others when their failures inconvenience her. Yet if she breaks or damages something, she shrugs it off with a “Oh, I guess you’ll just have to fix that.” No remorse. Totally maddening.
There must be a happy medium between these two extremes. How can one achieve a loving, accepting nature toward self and others without becoming irresponsible and inconsiderate in the process?
Unfortunately, I don’t know. For those of you who have come today with expectations of deep insights, I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you. Consider this a baby step on my part to accept that I will not always perform up to expectation and that it really is okay for me not to excel at everything. And then, feel free to go out and be less than perfect yourself. After all, we’re only human.
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