Mistakes we Make

"If you hadn't made that mess, you might never have come home."

image from amazon.com
I recently read this quote in Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff and it struck me forcefully.

If you hadn't made that mess...

How many times do we look back in our lives (or even at the end of every day) and think, "Man, I should not have done that!"  Or "Why did I do that?"

How many of us are in fear of taking that step forward, speaking to someone who makes us nervous, writing that book that's been on our mind for years (I could go on), simply because in our minds the question festers, "What if I mess up?"  

In this particular story, Hollis Woods is a foster child who just can't find the right family to fit her.  She goes from home to home until she finds one family who has some potential.  They love her, accept her, and talk about adopting her.  She feels good. But then a disaster happens...and she runs.  Well, I hate to give anything away, but through a series of events Hollis digs herself into an even deeper hole which leads her back home.  Thus the line, "you might never have come home."

Sometimes we look at our falls as failures or the end of the road.  We forget to recognize that without those learning moments, those mistakes, those regrets, we might not be where we are today.

In Rising Strong, Brene Brown talks about how the events of our lives have a beginning, a middle and an end (just like storybooks).  You start something new, it gets really tricky for awhile as you work out the kinks, and then you have a victory or, sometimes, a failure.  The middle is often the part when the rising plot occurs, leading to the climax of the story.   Of this Brown says, "Experience doesn't create even a single spark of light in the darkness of the middle space.  It only instills in you a little bit of faith in your ability to navigate the dark.  The middle is messy, but it's also where the magic happens (italics added)."

In order to get to the ending of our story, we need that middle part: the messy, unsolved, confusing, seemingly impossible part.  To become who we need to become, we need those learning experiences.  Didn't Adam and Eve teach us, "Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never would have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption...(Moses 5:11)."

Wasn't Joseph Smith counseled by the Lord during one of his darkest moments, "...all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good (italics added)?" (See Doctrine & Covenants 122:7)."  

It wouldn't help Adam and Eve to live in the place of regret knowing that without their fall, they would not have joy.  It wouldn't have helped Joseph any to skip that hardship when he knew the glorious reward at the end. Likewise, it doesn't help us to dwell on our regrets because we will have them!

Again, Brown teaches, "'No regrets' doesn't mean living with courage, it means living without reflection.  To live without regret is to believe you have nothing to learn, no amends to make, and no opportunity to be braver with your life (italics added)."  I love that phrase, "living without reflection" because that is what we are to do with our struggles and pains, our doubts and our failures.  We need to look inward and upward, seeking to know the next step and what lessons the Lord desires to teach us.

image from amazon.com

This reminds me of one of my favorite children's books, Beautiful Oops!  There are just lovely images of mistakes that happen, but then become something stunning on the very next page.  That is what is happening to us!  Whether we are in the beginning, the middle or the end of our experience, we are becoming something stunning - - even a masterpiece!  Take each day as what it is and embrace the fabulous journey. It takes some tears to get there, some hard work is necessary and some real self-introspection, but it is well worth it in the end!

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"Struggle happens.  We give our children a gift when we teach them that falls are inevitable and allow them to participate in a loving, supported rising strong process." - - Brene Brown


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