Making Mistakes, the Human Condition

by Kathleen Glavich, SND on March 25, 2015

in Blogs

thIf 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.My beautiful picture

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?

 

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Day March 25, 2015 at 9:45 am

I think that by accepting and admitting we have made mistakes we have an opportunity to grow in humility. It shows we are only human, and that can help us understand and be gentle with others in similar situations.

Thank you, Sister Kathleen, for your weekly insights into aspects of our faith. May you experience a very blessed Holy Week and Easter season.

Mary Day

Reply

Kathleen Glavich, SND March 26, 2015 at 8:31 am

Thank you, Mary, for your comment. Blessings on your Holy Week and Easter too!

Reply

Mark Misencik March 25, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Hey Sister,

“What’s good about making mistakes?”.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I tend to steal great ideas and quotes very smart people. Are you familiar with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe?

“Man will err as long as he strives”.

So, pat yourself on the back when you make a mistake! Don’t hate it. It shows you are striving. Not only are you a human being, you are a human doing.

Thoughts?

Mark

Reply

Kathleen Glavich, SND March 26, 2015 at 8:32 am

Mark, I’m familiar with Goethe but never knew his full name. I love your last sentence! Wish I had written it.

Reply

Gabrielle Renoir March 25, 2015 at 7:25 pm

I lived in Switzerland for ten years, and I came to love cheese fondue. When I tried to make it in the US, it just sort of disappeared during cooking! I have no idea how that happened, and I haven’t tried to make it since.

I don’t mind making little mistakes as long as they hurt no one, but I have made some big mistakes that hurt me. I do regret those, but there is nothing to do but move on and do the best I can. All in all, I’d say I’m fairly satisfied with my “mistake rate.” The one place I can’t abide mistakes is on my college papers. I check them over until I’m almost blind!

Reply

Kathleen Glavich, SND March 26, 2015 at 8:35 am

Gabrielle, why not try a different recipe for the cheese dish? I haven’t made it myself for years. Maybe I’ll try again. Thanks for the thought about “moving on.” Very important!

Reply

Gabrielle Renoir March 29, 2015 at 2:19 pm

I am not the world’s best cook, Sister, to put it mildly. When I am alone, I live on bottles of Slim Fast so I don’t have to cook, or microwavable macaroni and cheese! Horrible of me, I know. I think I really need to get a kit that contains all the ingredients for cheese fondue in the proper proportions. I was also using a stainless steel fondue pot rather than the traditional calquelon, and I think that made a difference. (The traditional ones are so expensive!) As we begin Holy Week, I’m remembering my mother and father and their Easter dinner traditions. Mostly, though, I am looking forward to the Easter Vigil next Saturday.

Reply

Gia Turella March 26, 2015 at 3:26 am

Thank you for sharing this. I know that making mistakes is part of life. If we didn’t make them, how would we grow as a woman of faith? Sometimes I view my mistakes as weakness and that it is to hurt for a bit. If it weren’t for Our Lord to take me by the hand and lead me through them, my life would be meaningless. Praise you, Lord, for letting me take up my daily cross and following You!

Reply

Kathleen Glavich, SND March 26, 2015 at 8:36 am

Ah, yes, Gia. The Lord is with us even as we make mistakes.

Reply

Leave a Comment