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Monday, August 1, 2011

The Reality of Committing Errors

"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it."  

-Omar Khayyam, "LXXI" The Rubaiyat
I would love to have super powers that allowed me to undo the wrongs I have committed in my life. Maybe the process would involve time travel and using 20/20 hindsight. I would return to my past, reenter my regrets slightly before I made any errors, use my better judgment, and thus erase all of my bad behaviors. Then again, how would I accomplish anything new if I had to spend so much time righting all those numerous past mistakes? Oh well, all of that is fantasy and lies only in the realm of impossibility.

I must face reality. I cannot go back and correct my wrongdoings -- not even one of them. And, just as disheartening, I know I am not finished making crucial false steps. I will make many, many more goofs. In fact, nothing I can do will change this. I have learned some hard lessons, but I will continue to disappoint myself with my own behavior.

From time to time, I will still be unkind. I will continue to do many more things that, once done, I will wish I could undo. Being a fallible human, I will repeatedly blunder and suffer the pains of regret. Since I must continue to meet many difficult obstacles along my way, I will be confronted by hard choices.I will even make some bad choices about important matters, and I will be forced to stand by my poor decisions. I will have to accept the realistic understanding that "there is no way to step back onto the ledge once I've left it."

I will be permanently stained by some of my miscues. In time, these stains may fade but they will prove impossible to remove. I will pay dearly for these mistakes, and others may judge my very life by them. Friends may hold grudges, and loves may be lost because of my gaffes. Still, the smudges will be a part of me, where I've been and what I've learned.

I find it very hard to be close to people who seem to have remained above any splatter of past wrongdoing and who believe they are too good to do any more significant wrong. These folks seem to revel in being righteous and squeaky clean, and I automatically feel uncomfortable around the angels. I find myself raising "caution flags" imprinted with the word insincerity. And, I really think they fear my tarnish is going to rub off, so they prefer to engage in distant and superficial contact, if any.

Perhaps their fear is well grounded. I know I shouldn't judge them. Maybe a lot of potentially infallible people do exist. I could be way off in my thinking. Still, I know I am going to screw up royally before my week is over, so I would rather rely on the forgiveness of others rather than on my ability to court perfection.

I hate making mistakes, hurting others, and upsetting the peace I should be working to uphold. Seldom a day goes by that I don't plan to improve; however, I am so much a creature of habit that I find myself consistently acting the same selfish way and somehow messing up. Yeah, I know. Everyone makes mistakes. That's one lesson I have learned very well.

Another lesson I have learned is that human compassion and understanding help make important bridges between people. I cannot hold hatred for those who misstep against me. I may have done that in the past, but now, recognizing myself as one who frequently does wrong, I know that harboring ill will toward others is destructive. It destroys them and it destroys me. How can I possibly do this when I understand I am nothing but a sinner? I can't change my sins, but I can be forgiving of sins committed by others. I hope others can forgive me, too. I trust God will help us all as we continue to have inevitable falls.  

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