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Facing Mistakes: What Being Mature Means

On a recent Sunday, I woke up 7 minutes after I was supposed to be at choir rehearsal. This is, of course, my greatest fear in life. Not missing choir rehearsal specifically, but the thing I dread most, literally the thing that keeps me awake at night, is being late to social obligations. This is why, for instance, I have not gotten a good night’s sleep the night before a semester starts for as long as I can remember (I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep in years but that’s another story).

I don’t know how to illustrate this post so I’m going to post random cat photos I find on StockSnap and think are nice photographs.
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina via StockSnap

But after literally exclaiming “Oh shoot oh shoot what do I doooo what do I dooo” upon waking up, I made a decision to rush through getting dressed and go anyway. I made it about 20 minutes after I was supposed to be there. That was ok. I missed warmup. I was there with just enough time to robe up and be ready for the church service. Everyone forgave me immediately, if they even noticed. After all, it’s a normal thing and happens to everyone at some point.

But as I wrestled with feelings of worthlessness and guilt over my (admittedly small) mistake, and the incongruity of how easily I was forgiven and accepted for my mistake, I was given over to reflecting on how the most mortifying things somehow usually don’t result in our lives actually being over. Somehow, we pick up the pieces and move on, even when our worst fears come true. I was also given a chance to reflect on how much better I handled it than I might have done ten years ago. In short, I realized that I had, at some point, gotten a little more mature.

All of us make mistakes. All of us wind up doing the very things we want least to do at some point, whether that’s hurting our loved ones or letting down a client or whatever it is. We’re human. We’re imperfect. We’re bad at doing the things we should.

I don’t know what this cat’s thinking but I can relate.
Photo by Dylan Thompson via StockSnap

But a little grace goes a long way. And grace, I think, is truly what it means to be mature, to be the adult in the room. Grace to forgive others when they mess up. And, hardest of all, grace to forgive ourselves when we mess up.

That day I was shown grace immediately. That was easily given. But somewhere in myself I found the grace to forgive myself, and that was a rare gift, one I didn’t really think I’d ever find.

I’m not sure where this grace truly comes from, but I do know we don’t know where it is until we need it, and then it often appears. Because somehow, no matter how embarrassed we might be at our own mistakes, we still have to face our lives. Time goes on. It doesn’t wait for us to get over ourselves. And worst of all, while we can take a break from friends or family who disappoint us, we can’t take a break from ourselves. So we need to find that grace to forgive ourselves, to live through and work through our shame, and when we do, those are the moments we grow up.

I genuinely don’t know whose cat this is but it’s beautiful.
Photo by Pacto Visual via StockSnap

Before you go

I’ve been thinking about what I can do to help out while people are stressed out. I know for me, I need something that isn’t news to populate my internet right now. A place to turn away.

I’m going to go through some of my old short stories and start posting them on this site. I can guarantee you some escapism and more happy endings than tragic, because that’s how I roll. I can’t guarantee much quality, though. Most of these were written more than five years ago.

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