No one goes through life without making mistakes. Hitting the mailbox while backing down the driveway, forgetting lunch on the counter, missing a deadline, putting the proverbial foot in the mouth, a temporary lapse of judgement; there are so many mistakes to be made. There are days when I feel like I have made nothing but mistakes. This is why I am so grateful that I have not been penalized for every blunder in my life. I am also glad that most of my mistakes go unnoticed by anyone else. When they are noticed, and when I have made life difficult for someone else, I am even more grateful for forgiveness.
We are not perfect beings and to treat someone as though they should be perfect is unfair. Many times, when we personally make a mistake, we say it’s unintentional or out of our control, but when someone else makes a mistake, we say it was intentional or the result of their inadequacies (there’s an actual theory all about this called Attribution Theory). We give ourselves leeway, but refuse that for others. It’s a bit hypocritical.
There are examples of this all over the headlines. We have seen an increase in the amount of attention paid to mistakes made by prominent people, some that were made years ago. These individuals are being skewered publicly while their lives and careers are destroyed. The media and the accusers are out for blood. The irony in all of this is that the people casting stones are far from perfect themselves. I often wonder if they are just trying to deflect from their own indiscretions.
It may be difficult to admit when you have made a mistake, but acknowledging the mistake and making amends to the best of your ability shows that you have learned something. On the other side, when someone makes a mistake that affects you, accept their apology and move on. Don’t drag their name through the mud, don’t hold a grudge, and don’t seek revenge. If it truly was a mistake, there is no need to make the person feel worse than they already feel. You will want the same consideration when the situation is reversed.
In situations where the person does not realize the extent of their mistake or does not acknowledge your feelings, still move on. The person doesn’t need to apologize; you can forgive without them being a part of it. Holding on to grudges and rehashing the events makes you feel as bad as, or worse than, the other person. Forgiveness leads to healing which leads to joy.
Give people a second chance. If I were still being judged by mistakes I made twenty years ago, I would be a mess. The same goes for mistakes I made yesterday. Everyone changes throughout their life. No one is the same person they were in their teens and twenties. I’m not the same person I was last year.
I don’t want to dwell on my mistakes, and I certainly wouldn’t want to see them debated in the evening news ad nauseam. So, unless you are perfect, and no one is, always remember, “To err is human, to forgive divine” (Alexander Pope).