More than a Mistake

When Aaron and I go on a trip and I have to help navigate where we are going–no, we don’t have smart phones–I get us turned around more than once. For some strange reason, this misstep frustrates me more than I can say. Aside from my fear of being lost, I feel like I’ve messed up and get perturbed and insecure.

Dropping a dish on the floor, seeing it shatter into a gillion pieces, also makes me cringe.

Sending an email to a student with a grammatical or spelling error in it makes me cringe and shriek.

Being able to release these mistakes and move on shows that you can grant yourself some kindness and grace. After all, we can’t avoid a pothole every time we drive any more than we can never drop a plate or make a wrong turn in a new city. When I started having babies, my mom calmed my perfectionist, task-driven tendencies by coaxing me to find a “new best.” What I could do B.C. (Before Children) would be different with a two-year old and a newborn. I wouldn’t be able to stay on top of every dirty dish or load of laundry. My sleep-deprived mind would send somewhat incoherent messages and I’d burn more food because I’d get distracted by a dirty diaper or lost pacifier.  I’d need to pick and choose and be okay with a different standard. I wasn’t blowing it; I was readjusting my priorities. After all, Supermom is a super delusion.

Michael Hyatt defines a mistake this way: “The term ‘mistake’ implies an error in judgment—something done unintentionally.” We weren’t as careful, focused, or knowledgeable as we should have been, but we weren’t sinning.

For the overly responsible, we assess our mistakes as grave errors (sin even), but for most of our culture, the word “sin” has become an old-fashioned term. The world shrugs off the dilemma and the consequences and says, “Well, no sweat. I just tripped up a little.”

Sadly, many in our world have replaced sin with mistake. Some may argue that this syntax change doesn’t carry significant implications, but I disagree. When we refer to our evil choices as a mere misstep, we fail to take the personal responsibility we should, thereby often failing to feel true remorse or amend our ways. When we wrong someone (by lying, stealing, cheating, committing adultery, etc.), we need to own up to it–for their sake as well as ours. Call it as it is: a transgression.

Ephesians 4:32 has been a memorized verse in our home this year. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”

Without a true acknowledgement of sin, we fall into two pits.

  1. We are prone to repeat the evil. If we aren’t in error the first time, than we won’t shy away from redundant sins. They won’t bother us and so we won’t push aside the temptation.
  2. We are prone to ignore our need. If we as people aren’t so bad, than why do we need saving? Aren’t we good enough on our own?
    “The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation.”

    – Martin Luther

    Sin illuminates our need for a savior, just as gravity demands our need for a parachute. If we jump out of a plane and don’t have a parachute, gravity (our metaphorical sin) will pull us all the way down and kill us on impact. When we fall out of a plane, gravity screams, “How are you going to combat this?”

    In this life, Jesus is our only salvation; there’s no other means of saving. He is the One that rescued us from the sinful body of death and says, “Here, I have the remedy. Just come to me, turn away from your sin and follow me.”


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