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Making Mistakes

William and Penny and I were taking a walk. William said, "Wa! Wa!" (Watch! Watch!) I complied. Penny took off in the other direction. So I chased her down, plunked her in the stroller next to her brother, and resumed walking. It was about 30 seconds later that I realized William was no longer playing with my watch.

We searched the stroller, his clothes, her clothes. I went through my own pockets four times. We traced the path where I knew the watch must have fallen. I even called Peter to come and look with us. To no avail.

I felt sick to my stomach. It was the watch Peter gave me for Christmas last year. It cost a lot of money. It was stupid to let William play with something so valuable. Stupid to turn my attention away from him, even for that moment. Stupid.

I realized, over the course of the night, as I traced over the moment of loss again and again, that it wasn't really the watch I was upset about. I could buy another. Peter wasn't mad. It really wasn't that big of a deal. Honestly, what really upset me was that I had made a mistake.

A friend of mine wrote recently to say that her car had been stolen because she left the keys in the front seat. I responded by saying, "Actually, your car was stolen because someone violated your private property." She made a mistake in leaving the keys in the front seat. But she didn't cause the car to be stolen.

I made a mistake in entrusting my watch to a toddler, but I didn't cause the watch to be lost. And yet I hated myself for the mistake, nonetheless.

So what causes us to make mistakes? Is it human sinfulness? Will we someday, when God has begun the new heavens and the new earth, not make mistakes? Actually, I think making mistakes is not bad or wrong or immoral, in and of itself (which is not to say I could never make a mistake that was bad or wrong or immoral, just that giving William my watch wasn't one of those). I'm pretty sure Adam and Eve made mistakes in the garden, learned from God, learned from each other, grew, changed. Jesus may very well have made mistakes as he learned carpentry from Joseph. Making mistakes is a part of being human, of being limited.

So this morning, when I mistakenly cut William's hair way too short and Peter compared it to a traditional monk's do, and when I started to apologize and berate myself and think back through all the ways I could have avoided... I let it go. I made a mistake. Sorry, William. Your hair will grow back. I promise.

As it turned out, my watch was found and returned to me by a colleague the next day. Funny. I guess I just needed to learn something about who I am.

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