My son taught me something last week. Me, the teacher in our house…but I like the phrase we read in a children’s book not long ago, that I adapted to our home: In our house, everybody is a student. In our house, everybody is a teacher.
So he taught, and I learned, and in truth, God did the teaching and made my son the instrument of my learning.
I’m a first-born child of four children, typical in many ways of my birth order. By that, I mean I can be a perfectionist. I like to believe I’ve grown past beating myself up over basic mistakes like forgetting to take the meat out to thaw for supper or spilling yellow curry sauce on my dress. But I do sometimes struggle with resting in the forgiveness I possess in Jesus when I make a bigger, deeper, more from-the-heart mistake–as in, a sin.
My husband and I gave our first-born a set of walkie talkies for his 9th birthday last week. The following day, a Friday, my boys went out in their rain boots to investigate the recently-flooded pond behind our house. They took one walkie talkie with them and left one with me–so that they could report back in and ask permission to go places in the neighborhood without me (and where I couldn’t see them from our house). When they finished gathering drowned June bug larvae and tadpole eggs (that we added to the bowl of already-hatched tadpoles on our table), the older boy wanted to turn this adventure into our school lesson for the day.
I eagerly embraced this idea, and the first activity we pursued was writing up a report about the boys’ “scientific findings.” The nine-year-old struggled with spelling the word “centipede,” and as I helped him, he inserted an “i” where the first “e” should go. I must have begun to get a little impatient while explaining that an “e” belonged there instead of the “i.” But he just turned and looked at me and calmly remarked, “It’s OK, Oh mah; I can erase the ‘i’.”
And just like that, he did. He corrected it and moved on. Apparently, my first-born is not like his first-born mother in this regard, simply accepting that a mistake is just that: something to be fixed. A mistake–something to be corrected. So fix it, correct it, and keep going. Continue with that report about dragon fly nymphs and snails.
So I began to ask myself, and God’s Spirit began asking me, What if you, Allison, accepted that a mistake is something to be fixed–instead of an ocean of defeat threatening to swallow you up? Even your OWN mistakes–things to be corrected instead of things that drive you into the pit?
Accepting mistakes as such helps me to celebrate, too–to celebrate when my son understands his multiplication tables even though he misspells “little.” To celebrate that my boys almost always say “thank you” even though they may chew with their mouths open.
In Jesus, I have all the forgiveness for all the mistakes I will ever make…so I don’t have to fear that the mistakes are bigger than the victories. Which frees me up to erase the ‘i’ and keep moving. Every single time.