I made a big mistake at work yesterday. Unintentional, but a mistake nonetheless. It was dramaticized big time by big people and that didn't make mie feel any better about the well-intentioned thing I'd done.
Upon learning of my mistake I cried - all the way to work this morning and now at nearly 11am I'm still on the verge of tears. I hope this passes soon.
This is where empathy and sensitivity can be a problem.
Mistakes seems to be a theme in my life right now, especially over the last few days. Just hours before I made this mistake at work I'd had to leave work for an hour or so to head over to city court to discuss a certain ticket I'd been given from a police officer - the first in 9 years and one earned completely by accident. After attending my kids court hearing in January I traveled the 60ish miles to my work via a different route I normally take. This meant I ended up driving streets I was familiar with (as in pass by all the time) but haven't actually driven before. I ended up stopping at a red light behind a big box truck. The driver turned right (on red) and I pulled up to the line, looking left at oncoming traffic to see what was coming. They were slowing down and it was safe to make my right-hand turn so I did only to see an officer flagging mie down. I've seen these officers there SO many times and wondered what they were looking for. Turns out there are 2 no-right-turn-on-red signs posted. I just couldn't see them because the box truck in front of mie had blocked them and then after he turned on red it didn't even cross my mind to look for those signs.
In any case I was guilty. The truth is that whether or not I meant to make the mistake, whether an accident or not, I did the thing I wasn't supposed to do. This is true in the work situation and with the traffic ticket and in most other situations in my life where I do something wrong since I very infrequently do something wrong intentionally with full-knowledge of what I'm doing.
I was fortunate in court yesterday. My case was dismissed because the officer declined to testify against mie. This is the second time I've had this happen (and only my 3rd ticket in my lifetime) so I am humbled to have received that grace. It was just that - pure grace. I was ready to accept the punishment I deserved but thankfully didn't have to endure the consequence, aside from living with the emotional impact of my decisions.
I'm yet to know the full consequence for my actions at work though I'm hoping for grace as well. And I did get a little. At least the damaged relationship was somewhat restored.
Last night I had a conversation with my son that made this (hopefully short) season relevant. It's the second one of the kind I've had with him in as many days. Yesterday it was spurred by my son almost running into the street to get the ball while a car was feet from hitting him. Thankfully he did stop and so did the car, but nevertheless it was a close call where my husband had to raise his voice to get his attention. My son cried. He said several times that he doesn't like getting corrected. He doesn't like it because it makes him feel stupid.
You see, my son is just like mie. We don't like to be corrected. It hurts us to our core. It's part of being academically gifted - we perceive our worth to be tied up in doing the right thing and usually we're able to because we pick up on the right thing so easily. We learn the first time - and usually that first time is when someone else makes the mistake and we watch it. Better yet, we can learn from a mistake before it happens many times just by thinking through the consequences of our actions.
And yet we're not perfect. We do make mistakes and when we do it hurts really, really badly. It feels as if we're less valuable as people because we're not perfect. We should have known better. And, to make it worse (though it's a good quality to have), when we make a mistake we can easily feel the impact on other people, whether its their disappointment in us for making a poor decision or their pain caused by our actions. We physically feel it.
What I tell my son is that mommy understands. She doesn't like getting corrected either and she knows how it makes her feel stupid too. Likewise I remind him that we love him, God loves him, and that we don't expect him to be right all the time. I remind him that even after living for 30 years and learning a whole lot mommy makes mistakes too - she still doesn't know everything and is wrong sometimes and makes mistakes and when she does she feels really bad. But finally I tell him that we correct him to help make him better because we love him. Last night we didn't want him to get smashed by a car (and I told him the story of a real 5 year old I knew growing up who did exactly what he was going to do and got hit by the car and had permanent brain damage). We love him and never want him to be harmed - we want him to grow in both wisdom and stature as he ages.
So to is it with mie. My God loves mie and provides correction when I make mistakes. It doesn't mean I'm less worth. It doesn't mean I'm less loved. It means He wants mie to be better. Thankfully He doesn't always allow mie to feel the full wrath of the consequence I should get for being wrong, something I deserve whether the mistake was intentional or purposeful. Instead He offers mie grace.
May I never cheapen grace and may I be more like Him as a parent - teaching and upholding justice and yet offering grace freely.