Can you laugh at your mistakes?
originally written 18 Apr 2001
added to first website 25 Feb 03
Can you laugh when you mess up?  I cannot.  Not most of the time, anyway.  This is a skill that I desperately need to learn.  I deeply admire others who make mistakes and can laugh them off and move forward past the embarrassment.  I have a tendency to beat myself up over even little mistakes in my life.  The bad thing about that is when the big mistakes come along, they come near to destroying me.  Something weird about me is that I allow others in my life much more of a "margin of error" than I do for myself.  Why?  I have no idea.  Do I think I need to be perfect?  I know there is no one on this earth who is perfect.  It's all a matter of perspective, I think.  Things are not always what they seem.  I look at others' lives and see them doing well in a certain area and automatically assume that they have it all together.  There have been people in my own life who had this "perfect" image of me and were surprised to find out I struggle with many of the same things they do.  Why do we put up that "front" for people?  Why can't we all just be "real" and be our true selves when others are around?  I can do that with some but not with others.  
With me, I think it's a matter of wanting to please everyone.  I don't want anyone to think ill of me and so I try to live up to a standard that is impossible to reach.  When I don't measure up to my own high expectations, I fall into a form of mental abuse upon myself.  This is wrong, I know.  It's unfair and self-destructive.  I know, deep down, that my true friends would love me regardless of what my house looked like or how much I ate or exercised or any of these myriad of things I struggle with.  I know that.  Even so, I fall into that "panic" mode if I know someone's coming to visit, trying to clean everything and make things "perfect."  I love having visitors and have never turned anyone away because my house was messy. Instead, I choose to concentrate on the joy of friendship that we share.  So why do I keep trying to make things perfect?  Maybe I'm afraid of rejection.  Of finding out just how many "true friends" I have or who are not "true blue".  I don't know.  So why should this bother me?  Should I really care at all about what they think of me, those who are not my true friends?  Some people are so critical of others and it's hurtful.  I see people talking about other people and start to wonder if I am also talked about behind my back.  I don't want ANY rejection.  It's too painful.  But, in this world, it's impossible to avoid rejection of some sort or another, so I need to just learn to deal with it.  And sometimes, it's not a matter of rejection.  If someone is mad at me about something, I automatically assume they don't love me.  That may or may not be true, depending upon the person.  Do I get mad at others?  You bet!  Does that mean I don't love them anymore?  Absolutely NOT!  Tempers flare sometimes but they also cool off and then people can be rational about things.  So why do I slip into that mindset?  Where does this come from?  
I heard a story once that was so awesome and helpful to me.  I need to remember it daily.  I wish I knew who the author was so I could give proper credit.  It was about a man whose donkey fell into a pit and he couldn't get the animal out.  People told him the situation was hopeless and that he should just throw dirt in the pit to bury the donkey as it would starve to death anyway.  As shovel after shovel of dirt was thrown in on top of the donkey, the donkey would shake it off and step up.  Each shovelful was shaken off and used to step up a little bit higher until the donkey eventually could step out of this pit and live.  That's what I need to do with the trials that inevitably come along in this life.  When I fall on my face I need to stand up, shake it off and step up.  If I consistently do that, I can climb out of this pit I've fallen in and live joyously as I was designed to do.  
There are some other little spots of inspiration that I need to paste on my forehead so I can see them every time I look in the mirror!  
I am not alone for God has promised (Deut 31:6) never to leave me or forsake me. 
There is always a way out!  "No temptation has siezed you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."  (1Corinthians 10:13)
There are no perfect people--we all make mistakes!  "There is no one righteous, not even one."  (Romans 3:10)
When I mess up, I can be forgiven!  "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."  (Hebrews 8:12)  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1:9)
I do not need to fear the judgment of others upon me if I am faithful to forgive those who have asked forgiveness from me for what they have done to me.  "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you."  (Colossians 3:13)
I am tired of being buried by my trials and am going to trust God's promises to help me as I endeavor to "shake it off and step up."
Thanks, once again, for letting me share these things with you all.  I have struggled with wanting to delete this and not send it out because these are such personal struggles.  But I know I am not alone in some of these and if my thoughts can help anyone else who may be struggling, then the benefit outweighs the risk of embarrassment.  
So, at the risk of being seen as a nut case...here I am...

~~Shirley  

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photograph by: Shirley/St Louis/Jun 2004
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