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Spirituality Essay:

Mistakes    ( March 2006 )

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One of the earliest maxims etched in my mind, surprisingly, was from a Hopalong Cassidy movie. His sidekick had messed up and apologized; and Hoppy graciously responded, "Anyone can make a mistake . . . it takes a man to admit it." (We'll forgive Hoppy's 1950's sexism). Why that sentence stuck in a 7-year- old's mind still amazes me, but it has served me well.

As the years have passed with life's fair share of bumps needing fixing, I've been drawn to the interesting dynamic of mistakes, self-righteousness, strength, and growth.

Weak people, substituting rigidity for genuine strength, are unable to admit to their mistakes (Bush II for example): clinging desperately to ego-survival, they block the opportunity to see their errors (instinctively laying the blame on others) and thus are prevented from ever feeling any need to make changes to avoid that mistake from happening again.

Our first UU "Quality of a Spiritual Life" - always seeking the truth as the primary ingredient for developing a dynamically growing life - requires a mindset ongoingly vigilant to seeing and acknowledging our mistakes. That openness, that integrity, is such a beautiful, valuable spiritual practice.

Because so much of life is, essentially, dealing with all the things that didn't work out as we would have wanted, how we approach those problems and what we do with them is what separates those whose lives grow (dynamically) from those whose don't.

It's helpful, after noticing that we're troubled by or in pain from something that went wrong, to step back and reflect on our part in this. That bold, healthy, willing desire to make changes is so powerful - it sets in motion a whole series of conscious and unconscious new realizations - and the concurrent strength - that lead to the changes we want. Future problems like this become so much less likely to occur.

We're human / we make mistakes. It's accepting this more deeply that allows us the forgiveness - of ourselves and others - that leads to our new growth. (Our April service on "Forgiveness" will develop this more deeply.)

Way to turn lemons into lemonade!

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
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