Rushing river on the way to Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

You don’t have to be afraid of mistakes

I made a mistake yesterday. Well, actually, I made the mistake about six months ago, but in my line of work, you don’t begin to experience the consequences of it until much later. It was one of those mistakes you make without realizing it. It wasn’t intentional. If anything it was accidental. But it was still a mistake–and I made it.

I hate mistakes. I hate them so much I’m often tempted to not even take risks for the fear of making the wrong move. I don’t want to make a mistake that will hurt me or hurt others, and I’d rather stay where I am–comfortable, confident, knowledgeable–than to put that safety in jeopardy. That’s the way my perfectionist brain works.

But is that how we’re supposed to live?

Rushing river on the way to Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

Rushing river on the way to Helen Hunt Falls, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Psalm 37:23-24.

The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Now, I’m not saying that we should live carelessly. God has given us our lives and He’s given us resources and blessings, and we should be good stewards of all that He has given us. But by that same token, remember that He’s the one who gave it, and in just about every instance in Scripture (that I can think of) when God gives somebody something, they’re expected to give it away. The people who hold on to what God’s given them are usually looked at as disobedient or unfaithful.

Have you ever thought about that?

But there’s something in me that wants to protect what God has given me. I want to keep it safe because risking it doesn’t seem like a good way to repay Him for what He’s given me.

But God didn’t give me my resources, my finances, my gifts, my blessings so that I can bury them in a coffee can in my back yard. He gave them to me so that I could invest them in other people–and investments like that never come back with a zero balance. Not where God is concerned.

So why are we afraid? If God has given us everything we have, are we afraid that we’re going to lose it all if we use it to do what He’s asked us to do? I’m all for being responsible, but what does godly responsibility look like?

This is my opinion, but I really think culture has conditioned us to fear mistakes. Nobody wants to be wrong. Nobody wants to take a wrong turn. We have GPS so we never have to experience the humiliation of turning around. We have calculators and computers to do math for us so we don’t have to worry about our equations being wrong. The whole attitude about mistakes has even extended to parents who don’t let kids experience the consequences for the things they choose to do wrong, which is another blog post entirely but is still relevant.

Mistakes aren’t bad. Honestly, mistakes are good for us.

Now, I’m not talking about the kind of “mistakes” that can wreck a life. Those aren’t mistakes. That’s sin, and there’s a big difference between the two. Mistakes can be corrected. Sin must be redeemed.

The mistake I made yesterday was stupid and careless, and I hate that I made it. Because it makes me feel stupid and careless. But you know what’s going to happen? I’m not going to make that mistake again. I’m experiencing the consequences of that mistake, and I’m going to learn from it.

That’s what mistakes are good for–teaching stubborn, hard-headed perfectionists like me that I’m not always right and that sometimes I need to drop my pride and admit when I’m wrong. Because if I can do that, I can learn something.

If you’re a Christ-follower and you’re seeking God’s will in everything you do, you don’t have to worry. What does that mean practically? That means you ask Him for direction. Literally. Just ask Him. That means you read the Bible and search for an answer to your questions, expecting to find it.

If you’re living that kind of life, don’t be afraid of mistakes. God is directing your steps, and even though you might trip, you aren’t going to fall. God won’t let you.

If you remain open to your mistakes, if you are willing to be humble and learn from them, you don’t have to be afraid of anything.

I’m really dating myself, but when I was thinking about this topic, only one song kept circling my brain. Forgive the 90s era videography and listen to the words. This is the kind of life I want to live, mistakes and all.