It just hit me this morning as I made a rookie parenting mistake that I could be a lot happier in life if I started expecting myself to make mistakes. This is so obvious to other people. The beautiful thing about the Christian life is that the Lord takes each person with all their imperfections and creates lessons tailored for that individual. That's what He's doing for me. I have always been stuck in this mire of people-pleasing. I have been so guilty of trying to look perfect so that people would think that I was smart and successful. I have been guilty of making mistakes and then trying to hide the mistake. I have been guilty of thinking that people would not love me if I wasn't perfect and then striving to present that image at all costs. What time I have wasted!
I mentioned before that I thought that God was calling me into the teaching profession. People have asked me over and over for years, "are you going to be a teacher?" I've always responded with a horrified, resounding NO WAY, JOSE. I took steps into that process this September and have surprisingly enjoyed learning about the job. It is so interesting to me the way the human mind works and the way in which a teacher can do particular things to help the kids learn more easily. I love that teachers have a creative job which constantly changes. It doesn't seem like it could ever be boring. I've been doing the work of becoming a teacher with the massive burden of fear on my shoulders of, "can I do this? Will I make a mistake? Will I be a failure? Can I even find a job?"
The revelation I received unbidden as I was driving instantly provided me with a beautiful peace. Of COURSE I will make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. I just made the mistake doing something that I've been doing every day for 9 months. I would still call myself a good mother despite the mistakes I've made along the way. The mistake doesn't define me. The danger is making mistakes and not learning from them. Here are the top mistakes that I have given too much power to in the last 5 years:
1. Leaving the Appalachian Trail after only 204.5 miles. I felt like a failure for that for so long, but really I made it 204.5 miles! I trusted people like I've never trusted people before, and my departure meant that I chose my husband above the selfish desire to prove to myself that I could do it!
2. I went on 4-5 librarian job interviews and did not get hired. For a long time this made me feel like an unworthy, incapable person. I finally had to admit that the reason I kept failing was because I really had no desire to get the job. I still read librarian job descriptions and find myself saying, "ew". Maybe this was a huge indicator that the library route is not for me, or possibly that school librarian is in my future.
I am making a commitment to myself at this moment to no longer allow these mistakes to define me as a "failure". Fear of making mistakes has frequently kept me from trying new things. I hope to model myself after St. Peter in the future: acting without fear of looking foolish or making a mistake, being humble enough to admit when I do make a mistake and keeping my eyes fixed on Christ to keep me afloat during the difficult moments.
Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew. - St. Francis de Sales