May You Make Mistakes

I had a brilliant 1st grade teacher.  

A truly, truly brilliant woman who overflowed with grace and seemed to intuitively know how to reach every person she met.  I was no exception.

I walked into her class a very timid student and I vividly remember thinking that everyone else in the room knew how to read words like "the" and "this"... and a lot of other words.  

I remember that so clearly because I did not know how to read those words.  

Never would I have brought this to anyone's attention, of course, but it was very significant in my mind's eye.

Truth be known I was terrified of making mistakes and what kind of grand mistake had happened that I did not know how to read, yet, and many of my friends did?

Here's where Ms. Morgan's brilliance impacted my life...

She involved me.  She said she needed a rocking chair for reading circle and she let me and my parents send ours from home.  I got to fill that need for her and my class and felt incredibly important as a result.

I still couldn't read, but it was clear these people needed me.  

Next?  She inspired me by speaking my language.  She immediately knew that I was an overachiever and that "a contest" would be a big deal to me.  So, she had me see just how many books I could read in one six week period.  My start was slow (she was teaching me to read as we did this), but she spoke encouragement and assurance as she taught the lessons by day and by night sent home reading level appropriate content that fit my personality.  

My confidence rose as my reading skills were born.

Finally, she leveled with me.  She told me I would make mistakes.  She told me I was not perfect and that no one expected me to be without flaw.  The best life lesson she taught me, though?  She said, "Christie, we learn from our mistakes."

And then she made me repeat that mantra...

"We learn from our mistakes.  We learn from our mistakes.  We learn from our mistakes."

Every time I would make a mistake in class, she would ask me to repeat that phrase.  She wanted me to remember this and in her gracious, loving way would accept no less than said recollection.

It was the best gift that anyone could give me.  

30 years later, I am still embracing this lesson.

Some days I remember it well and can lean gracefully into what a friend in my adult life later told me ("Christie, God made one Perfect Man and you're not it") and other days I am completely astonished at how much I detest making mistakes.  I tend to make even more mistakes on those days.  (God's really great about putting a lesson on Repeat Play until I "get it.")

One of my goals in my writing and in my life is to embrace imperfection and to speak grace into the lives of my readers and my family.  Doing so reminds ME to not only write about that grace, but to LIVE IT with my family, friends, coworkers, and more.  By writing it out, I gift myself with the permission to apply it to myself, also.

What is crazy, though, is that as a Christ follower, I have a guarantee for my learning moments... and I always have had this guarantee.  It's packaged up in Romans 8:28 and here's what is says, 

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, 
for those who are called according to his purpose."

All things.  Not just some things.  ALL things.  God didn't mince words, have a Divine Typo, or retract this later in the book, guys and gals.  

He said ALL things and that is what He meant.  

So, what's in it for Him?  He only asks that I love Him, hear Him, and follow His plan for my life. He just wants to love me in all of my heap of mistakes and right smack dab in the middle of my learning curve.  That's a pretty sweet deal, folks.  (Side note: If you aren't already taking Him up on this one, there's some room for thought here.  The world doesn't offer deals like this!)

I have a note from Andy Andrew's book "The Traveler's Gift" on my desk at work.  The first line of it says, "The Buck Stops Here."  That means when I make a mistake, it's okay to confess it.  It's okay to say, "Yes. That mistake is mine.  What can I do to make this right?"... and then to take that action or make a living amends by trying to not repeat the same mistake in the future.  I can do that with the world.  I can do that with my God.  No need to cover, cover, cover and hope that no one finds out.  News flash?  We're not perfect.  We're human.  Welcome to the race.  (Can we all wear some of those fun socks that folks are wearing at 5k runs these days?  Just a thought.)

Seriously, though, being candid about my mistakes is part of the beauty of the process.  I'm convinced of that.  It takes away the notion that I'm supposed to be perfect and celebrates the fact that I know the One who is.. and He loves me, messes and all.

Here's the deal, folks...

If we don't make mistakes, there is nothing from which we can learn.

If we don't make mistakes, we're stagnate in this lifetime.

If we don't make mistakes, we're certainly not creating any successes beyond what we're already great at... and what kind of horrific self imposed jail of limitations are those?

If we don't make mistakes, we never get to know the grace of God as up close and personal as we might, otherwise.

If we don't make mistakes, we don't take any chances... and we rob the world of a star.

You're a star.  

So, for the sake of all that's shiny and awesome, please don't rob us of the opportunity to watch you shine. 

And one more thing... 

You don't have to seek mistakes out.  They'll happen naturally.  That's just how life goes on this side of heaven.  If you know my Jesus, you'll have eternity to dance around and live in perfection when you get to the mansion He has for you up there. (I've already requested a roomful of chocolate in my mansion.  What spells perfection better than THAT?! Right?)  While you are here on earth, though,  do your best, but don't live in terror of the "uh-oh" moments.

While you are here, LIVE and let God and the rest of us love you in your normalcy.  

It will make the rest of us feel a whole bunch better if you aren't perfect.  For real.

And if you have kids?  Read this to them.  Make sure they know.  Imagine living life without the fear of making a mistake.  Wrap that up in a bow and hand it to your kids.  They are worth it!

May you make mistakes, crave peace, and dance in grace- 

Copyright © 2013 by Christie Aitken. All rights reserved.


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