Failure is rarely something we celebrate. My natural tendency is to take myself to a metaphorical woodshed and berate myself until my emotional state is nearly destroyed. It is as if I need to pay penitence, even no one is asking for it. In my youth, I always assumed that there would be an age where I would move beyond this cycle. Now that years and decades have past, I realize that nothing has changed. Mistakes, big and small ones, tragic and inconsequential, impact others as well as only hurting myself, are treated equally.
Somewhere deep within is a conviction that my heart must be punished. I do not know of any rationale reason why this is true. There is no directive. With links to positive and negative outcomes, there are alternatives to the positive outcomes.
Life reminds me that the following points are true.
One is accountable for one’s actions. Choices have consequences. Some are prescribed, others are natural ones. The sequence is highlight in an old observation; “You’ve betrayed your commission and now you’re stripped of your rank, busted.” (Psalm 82.7)
One has an implicit obligation to rectify the damage that comes from a mistake. When a mistake creates a cost to another, one should cover those costs. Quantifying the damage when it is emotion is difficult, especially when the person hurt is yourself.
Mistakes are useful ingredients in learning. It is possible to create something good from a tragedy.
Once one has recognized one mistake and the accountability that follows, rectified the damage caused to others, and taken the learnings from it, there is forgiveness and reset cycle that one is invited to go through. In my life, this is a frequent point of failing. As bad as the damage initially caused by my mistake, I compound the impact by failing to forgive myself. I catch myself stuck in a moment past, unable to use the lesson in the moment I have.
Today begins with an invitation to reset and live fully, deeply, and better than I have at any point. Carpe diem.