Errors teach us things we might not have learned otherwise; mistakes help us grow IF we learn from them. It’s that IF part that always gets me.
Last year, I was tutoring a young man from Italy via Skype (on a side note: I love tutoring via Skype because it means only one corner of my house needs to be presentable 😉 ). The time difference meant that I had to be up (and personally presentable and functioning!) before dawn. Needless to say, this was one of the few mornings I overslept, not by much, but even a few minutes can throw off my day. Knowing I should have been up and showered and thinking clearly before 4 AM had me literally running around my house.
And that’s when the error happened.
In my rush to make up lost time and in the total darkness of the house, I flew headlong over the vacuum cleaner that I had left in the hallway the night before – or had it been there longer? It’s entirely possible that we had stepped over that vacuum for days which doesn’t say a whole lot about my housekeeping skills!
I lay on the dark hallway floor fighting back tears and wanting to scream. I knew something serious was wrong.
Because of the divorce and having been a stay at home mom, I had no insurance and could not afford a doctor. It took weeks before a friend finally convinced me to got to a clinic for help. X-rays showed severe breaks in my toe and foot which may need surgery; there was no way I could do surgery.
The kind doctor showed me how to tape my foot, and to help suck up the pain, I wore flip flops well into the cold weather, swore I’d stop rushing around, think before doing things, and be more careful in the future.
But that was a year ago, and sometimes promises we make to ourselves are too quickly forgotten.
And yesterday I proved that by repeating my error.
It wasn’t because I had overslept or because the house was dark or because I had left out the vacuum (although I still repeat that mistake too!) but because I had the mad desire to run and tackle my two youngest children (Can anyone say, maturity???)
The older boys were at school; Noah was running around the house giving a sleepy but giggling Kaleb piggy back rides. They were pretend crashing into the couch, the table, and the walls and then falling to the floor. Kaleb was climbing on top of Noah, and they were laughing and having a great time, and it was too much for me to resist!
I picked up the camera to catch their boyish playfulness and, after snapping a few shots, I put the camera aside. Intent on jumping in the fray, I rushed headlong down that hallway with all the grace of a charging hippo. My toe collided with the bathroom doorjamb (which I swear jumped right out in front of me!)
I collapsed on top of the boys with pain radiating from my toe to my suddenly nauseous stomach, and a quick look at my rapidly swelling toe confirmed what I already knew. I had re-broken my foot. It is swollen three times its normal size and a nice black and blue. Once again, it’s January, and I am digging out flip flops.
Repeated Mistakes – Things I SHOULD Have Learned:
I can justify the error by saying it wasn’t exactly the same as last year’s error, but that’s a cop out. I had repeated my error from last year. I hadn’t learned from my mistakes and was now paying the price.
Which got me to thinking about other errors I’ve made and the lessons I should have learned but haven’t. Lessons like,
- remembering (again!) to tell my kids to actually put the garbage in the can when (if) they take it out and not to leave it next to the can as a treat for the neighborhood skunk…
- not thinking I can check Facebook for just a second and still remember the cookies in put the oven for 5-7 minutes because that just a second always takes more than 5-7 minutes, and my boys aren’t shy about telling me how they feel about burnt cookies…
- not filling the dishwasher with regular dish soap (okay, truthfully I only did this once. Years ago, I was with my brother housesitting for my aunt and uncle (sorry guys!) and didn’t know any better, but the bubbles that filled the kitchen were actually a lot of fun and I remember laughing with my brother in a way we haven’t laughed together in a long time. When I run low on dishwasher detergent now, I always think back to that time and am tempted to give it another try.)
But it’s more important errors I hope not to repeat but know in my foolishness, in my insecurities, in my desire to know I am loved and can love again, that I fear making the same mistakes over and over again, I am prone to. Lessons I fear I should have learned but haven’t. Lessons like…
- choosing to date someone who shares my values and beliefs and I have fun with rather than just someone because he is there or because he flatters me or because he is hurting and I want to help him (or vice versa!) or because I don’t know how to say no…
- remembering to wait for God’s timing, to treasure the moment I am in now, to not rush my children’s growing up or my moving on, to remember that each moment is an opportunity to love someone unconditionally and without expectation, to share laughter with those who laugh freely and with those who have forgotten how to laugh, to show hope in this sometimes hopeless world…
- to not succumb to darkness that reaches beyond that of a broken toe in a darkened hallway, to not repeat errors made against me, even – or maybe it’s especially – errors intended to hurt, or to not allow those errors to pull me under their swirling cesspool, and to forgive myself for the moments I do lose my breath and sink temporarily under the waves of darkness.
And perhaps the two most important lessons:
- Put away that darn vacuum (It’s not like it’s used often enough anyway!)
- Never hope for sympathy from your older children when you’ve just admitted to fly tackling the youngest two (You didn’t think I was going to say the lesson was to never fly tackle your children, did you? 😉 )
We all make errors. We all repeat mistakes we swear we will never repeat, but we can each wake up every day and quote, “This is the first day of the rest of (my) life.” Knowing that today I can choose minute by minute to forgive myself for my past errors but also do better to avoid those mistakes in the future is the key to real moving on; that is what I will learn today from my past mistakes.
What errors have you made that you would like to avoid in the future? How will you avoid making the same mistake twice?