Mistakes

No One Pays Attention to You Until You Make a Mistake

Ed, my neighbor next door, was rather gracious to me last week. I think he forgot that he was talking to me. The last couple of weeks, I have been batting home run mistakes all over the place. A home run mistake is an error that everyone sees. Just as bad, others cannot believe you made such an obvious bungling of what you are doing. It is like singing off tune so badly that everyone else stops singing and looks at you in stunned silence. Home run mistakes are impressive, and leave other folks talking about you for a long time. It is always good when others make the glaring botch ups. We all are comfortable discussing the bloopers other people make. It is really hard to face our own home run gigantic errors.

My neighbor told me that I worried, too much as everyone has made more than their share of big errors. He said that all I have to do is to act as if I have no idea I made any mistake big or little. Regrets won’t erase your goof ups. Folks, who like you, will see the error as a temporary, unusual occurrence. Those who don’t like you will be glad you look dumb. He ended his advice with his claim that most people are too preoccupied with their cell phone games today, to pay attention anyone else.

He told me that he had read about the Selective Service System, in the USA, that had sent out notices to more than 14,000 men that they needed to register for military service. The big error was the notices were sent to men who were born in Pennsylvania during the years 1893 and 1897. Not many of them were alive to complain about the mistake.

Folks like to hear about other people’s mistakes, but may feel embarrassed and refuse to admit to their own errors, acting as if, they don’t make any. Since, the Bible refers to God humbling and exalting folks, my last round of glaring errors may mean I have been guilty of an inflated opinion of my importance. Have I been smug, or conceited or boastful? Perhaps, I have been self-centered, opinionated and indifferent to the well-being of others? Facing up to my mistakes makes me more alert to my need to seek a greater character of humility. Peter advises no less in his words, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

It seems to me the majority of movies and television programs do not celebrate the character trait of humility. The stars are usually bold, extraordinary, unashamed, boastful, pretentious, proud, superior or even conceited. The dictionary defines humble as not proud or arrogant, modest, gentle, ordinary, and unpretentious. In the Bible, Jesus describes himself as humble and gentle in heart. We are also instructed there to humble ourselves before God, having a humble and contrite spirit before Him. We are also to show true humility towards all other people and consider them better than ourselves. We are also to seek to live in humility, gentleness and patience. All three challenge me greatly.

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Raymond Maher
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