Today I made a mistake. It wasn’t my first, won’t be my last. But it was a stupid, careless mistake that I made because I rushed into what I was doing, misled by the good intentions of another who was hoping to help me get some quick information to others. I simply said August when I meant July in an public announcement. Not exactly, neuro-surgery, but still an error I don’t often make.
But nonetheless, it was my hand that did the carelessness and I assume responsibility, especially since I’m the boss and all. So I deal with the embarrassment of error on my part. I’m particularly hard on myself in times like this. I don’t often make errors like this and have taken a lot of pains to not be careless in my work, or overlook too many details.
But I hold onto mistakes very tightly, nonetheless.
In my brief afternoon examen, I studied the reasons for making the mistake…a rushed judgement, a careless, uncritical eye, doing too many things at once, not trusting my initial thought on this matter or perhaps not trusting my co-worker. It was also tempting to cast blame on a host of others, but I made the mistake and I should tend to its correction.
My friend, John, comes to mind, a peer and a mentor over the years for me, during times like this. He is an honest man, who is confident enough to say “I don’t know” when he doesn’t and “My fault” when he errs. He’s learned much from his loving wife, Kelly, a doctor. Namely, I can recall a day when I made a huge error at the radio station. I played the wrong commercial and boy did I hear it from the sales department! John, who I reported to, in his wisdom, took me aside and said:
“Mike, I make my share of mistakes. I get tired from long hours of work and I just fumble something. But I’m glad I chose the career I did, because if I make a mistake, it usually surrounds something like this…missing a commercial, or not identifying the station or the show. That mistake costs the station hundreds of dollars sometimes, maybe even thousands.”
“But my doctor-wife has to be up for hours on end, pulling double shifts at the hospital. And when she gets tired she can’t make that mistake. I make a mistake and we lose a bit of money. Kelly makes a mistake and it’s “Oops, you’re dead! So let’s forget about the $400 we just lost and keep the focus on where it needs to be today, O.K.?”
Wisdom indeed. I fixed the error and apologized and a colleague helped me graciously in doing so. In examen today, I found that call from a colleague to be heartening. She didn’t belittle me for my mistake, but rather helped me find ways to correct it.
It’s in moments like these that we make the biggest mistake of all. We get led by the evil spirit, who all-too-easily convinces us that we’re horseshit. That we’re no good and we never will be and that it’s all going to hell in a hand-basket and that we’re completely at fault for all of it.
In short, nobody died. Life goes on. I look a little foolish today (some may say, what do you mean, TODAY?!), but I don’t think that anyone is going to judge the entirety of my career on today’s error.
In my talk with Jesus today, Jesus came over to me and washed my hands clean. He said to me, “Now go try again! And stop worrying about this. There’s nothing you can do about it now anyway other than fix it. And you’ve done that. It happens. There are greater tragedies in life!” Then He showed me his wounds and said, “Do you think these wounds were fun? Wounds hurt! So stop wounding yourself and move on to something life-giving.”
As the cool Buffalo breezes invigorate my summer months, I hope I too can remind myself to stay cool and not be too hard on myself. And rejoice not in mistakes, but in life-giving mercy.