If you’re like me, you hate making mistakes. I like to think I’m perfect, and doing a foolish thing punctures my ego. It’s bad enough when I’m the only one who knows about it, but worse when others witness or hear about it. What pops into my mind is the day I was making cheese soufflé and a large amount of cayenne pepper fell into the mixture. “We never taste it anyway,” I thought. “I’ll leave it in.” Well, that evening the sisters really tasted it! To top it off, the next morning for breakfast I used baking soda instead of baking powder in our pancakes, turning them into a gritty substitute for toothpaste. That was long ago, but I continue to do and say dumb things, living proof that “to err is human.”
Having been caught in another mistake this week (to be honest, a couple), I reflected on whether Jesus made mistakes. Of course, he was sinless, but being truly human, he must have erred. Let’s see, how about when as a preteen he secretly stayed behind in Jerusalem when his parents returned to Nazareth. That caused them three days (and nights) of grief. I’d call that a major mistake. Then there was the fact that he chose Judas as one of the twelve apostles and let him take care of the group’s money. Bad choice! I enjoy the story of the Canaanite woman who begged Jesus to cure her daughter. At first Jesus said no and rather insulted her. Her wit won him over. Jesus realized he was wrong to limit his ministry to Jews, and he cured the girl.
It matters how we handle our mistake. First of all, we need to own it, take responsibility for it, admit it. Certainly, if we’ve hurt another person by it, a sincere apology is in order, maybe several, in different forms. We should also attempt to rectify any trouble we caused. Some companies are good at doing this. (My sister once wrote to a company to complain about its soap. They sent her a case of soap…the same kind.) Furthermore, we can draw some good out of our mistake by chalking it up as a learning experience and then avoid repeating it. After being stopped by a policeman, I know now to make sure that when I drive at night the headlights are on and not just the parking lights.
What’s good about making mistakes? For one thing, it keeps us humble. You don’t get a swelled head when you know you’re capable of sending a letter without a stamp or with the wrong address. And hopefully by making mistakes we become more sympathetic to others when they make mistakes. Someone has the wrong day or time for a meeting with me? That’s understandable, for one day I totally forgot my sister and I were going out for lunch. Another advantage of mistakes is that they can make for some funny stories to tell and retell at family gatherings.
Today (March 25) we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. God surely made no mistake when he chose that young Jewish girl, Mary of Nazareth, to be his mother. And unlike Eve, the mother of us all, Mary made no huge mistake. Her willingness to follow God’s plan ultimately undid the harm that Eve caused. I wonder, though, if Mary ever put too much seasoning in the bread she served Jesus and Joseph. Did she ever burn it like I burned a dozen cookies this week?
OOPS! My apologies to anyone who received the opening sentences of this post in an e-mail yesterday! You see, I had just realized that I had written about Good Friday and Easter … a week early. So really fast I began this new one and in the process of rescheduling the old one, I clicked on “show immediately” for the start of my rough draft…by mistake!
How have you handled a mistake? Has a mistake ever taught you something?