How To Make Your Mistakes Worth It

It’s winter. Which means rain in our drought-prone city. It never fails that as the first rain drops fall, the whole city forgets how to drive, and whines about weather as we stand in supermarket check-out lines.

Changes in routine like this can lead to some pretty silly mistakes. Like choosing to go running when it looks like the rain has stopped (but we wouldn’t really know how to confirm this since we’re a city of rain morons).

My favorite place to run is a near-by lake. It’s inspiring, refreshing, and the perfect distance around. Dog and I run while my daughter rides her bike around the lake each weekend. It’s a great time together. I thought the only thing bad about running the lake was the gnats. Turns out that is not true. But I did learn a few things:

  1. Dogs don’t like rain dumping from the sky. 
  2. Or being bombarded with 1/2 inch hail stones 
  3. Or running around a lake with no shelter when 1 or 2 happens
  4. And neither do 8 year old daughters, who have post traumatic stress issues from early life in foster care.


Yours might not be weather-related blunders, but we all make mistakes. Some are minor and irritating. Others are devastating to us or those we love. In the midst of those moments, how will we handle our mistakes?

Face them

Take responsibility for whatever you’ve done. Otherwise one mistake automatically becomes two. It’s hard as a parent to own up, especially when we struggle with insecurity and guilt that we’re not doing a good enough job as a parent. But when we take responsibility for our choices and actions we demonstrate wisdom, and have more opportunities to reconnect with whoever we’ve affected. It also saves us time, because we can more quickly make things right instead of floundering in denial. And, even better, our honesty helps us avoid making the same mistakes later.

Learn from them
Mistakes are great teachers. In fact, many brilliant people staunchly believe we learn more from them than from our successes in life! What are the mistakes you’ve made recently trying to teach you? How can you grow in that knowledge? What will you do differently next time? And be careful of thoughts that SEEM like learning, but really represent shutting down to people and opportunities in the future. Things like “I learned never to trust people again.” That kind of “learning” will just lead to many more mistakes over time!

Recognize the value of experience
A lot of mistakes come from trying something new, or some new way of approaching an old issue. Be courageous and decide you’re going to relish the experience you’ve had through your mistakes. Even if it was a truly painful or tragic thing at the time, there are probably precious jewels of experience you gained because of them. As my friend recently said, “Erasing [all our mistakes] would just leave a blank space — that’s not very interesting.” So treasure the results of your mistakes. And give yourself a little credit for trudging through the work it took to get them. It makes you who you are – a unique, beautiful creation who God loves with all His heart.

Get over them
We make mistakes. It’s what makes us human. We can spend a lifetime stewing over them, beating ourselves up, or we can cut ourselves some slack, apologize to those we’ve hurt, make amends, and move along. There’s nothing to gain in wallowing here except a waste of a life. And fearing making our next mistake is almost as bad. As Elbert Hubbard says, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” So decide to walk through, learn from, absorb the experience and move past your mistakes. Life’s too short not to!

Where are you at with your own mistakes recently? What do you need to be able to handle them better?

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  1. Beth B says

    #2 is actually the hard one for me. I tend to repeat myself. I find myself trying unsuccessful strategies with my kids over and over, or forgetting to do things that worked great. Not sure why. I feel like I have some good ideas, but have trouble implementing them. Not sure if it's fear of change or just lack of the skills to bring an idea into practical use. (Makes me think of your strengths talk.)

    PS: Thanks 🙂

  2. Shannon says

    So funny that I've been thinking about this this weekend… I do have a hard time moving past my own mistakes, even though I do KNOW I'm forgiven. I did think of one gift that my mistakes give me though. Forgiving others becomes a tad easier when I feel overcome with gratefulness for the forgiveness I have received. Now to live that out without being stuck in my own guilt….

  3. says

    I think the move on part is really hard for women and moms in general. We take a lot of things so personally, and we start to identify so much with what we do that when we “do it wrong” we feel like we're lame. We start to major in the minor things. Someone once said that not forgiving ourselves is actually pride since it's like saying “God, I know YOU forgive me, but I just can't.” Kinda stings to think of it that way, but it jolts me out of my funk most times!

  4. says

    I can do everything but get over them. I have such a hard time with that! I hang on to my mistakes—well, pretty much forever. Despite what I know I can learn from them, despite knowing that other people have probably forgotten them by now. I just hang in there. Grr.

  5. says

    I think learning to get over your mistakes is important. We can chose to learn from them, take that knowlegde and move on, or sit and wallow it.
    God wants us to keep improving and moving!
    Thanks for this. Sometimes I need to remember to move on.

  6. says

    I know what you mean, Barb. I always loved the story of Thomas Edison, who, when someone asked how it felt to fail so many times at making the lightbulb (I think it was something like 10000 times!) he said, “I didn't fail. I made a lightbulb.” 🙂 Love that attitude!

  7. says

    Great post. I was just chatting with my children about this very thing this morning. We wouldn't have new inventions if inventors weren't willing to fail their way to success. We need to learn from our mistakes and move on.