Everybody makes mistakes. Some are insignificant, like forgetting a name or letting something boil over on the stove. Others are more consequential, like forgetting a child at school, or setting the toaster on fire making Pop Tarts (yes, they are flammable. Yes, I speak from experience.) And some can be life-changing, like running a red light and causing a tragic accident, or being with the wrong people at the wrong time and ending up in a criminal situation with no previous knowledge or intention.
I, myself, have made mistakes that can be numbered like the grains of sand. Since I have the deluxe edition of memory issues and ADD, I forget names almost as soon as I hear them, get lost between home, church and work, call my own children other people’s names, and apologize so automatically that I say I’m sorry when I bump into furniture.
For some reason tonight I started thinking about the mistakes I have made in my life and what the biggest would be. My first thought was the obvious, marrying my first husband, since it turned out so badly. But if I hadn’t married him, I wouldn’t have my children or my grandchildren, and the idea of them not existing is unthinkable. So it may have been a mistake but it was one with some very wonderful results.
Not going to college was definitely a mistake. I gave up too easily. I didn’t have the money but I should have tried harder to get it, worked harder at finding grants. I was young and thought I would get married and have kids and that would be enough. I didn’t understand how hard it would be to go back later.
Going to the wedding of my ex-boyfriend and the girl he dumped me for was a mistake. Spilling a cup of red punch down the front of the bride was a bigger mistake. It was an accident, honestly it was. It was also in front of about a hundred people who knew me and knew that we had dated, etc. White bridal gown. Red punch all over it. Pictures had not been taken yet. Humiliating is not even close to the right word. I’m sure I’ll laugh about it someday. It’s been twenty-five years, but eventually…
Parenting mistakes – Time and space prevent me from continuing. Not to mention a reasonable sense of self-preservation. If I started listing all the mistakes I made parenting in one place, I would want to curl up in a little ball somewhere and do nothing but lie in a dark corner.
But I believe that the biggest mistake I have made has been letting the past twenty or so years go by without doing anything. When I was a young adult my life was productive and active and meaningful. I sang and taught. I was a youth pastor and worship leader. I spoke at women’s events and organized youth retreats. I felt that I was contributing and being used of God. But I have let the last couple of decades pass doing very little other than what is required day-to-day and the normal life interests of relationships and friendships.
I feel like God isn’t finished with me. I believe that he has more for me to do. I’m probably past my prime to be working with youth, or bouncing around a stage singing, but there’s plenty of other things that I can do. The challenge is to figure out what it is that God wants. I’ve been feeling nudged toward writing but I don’t know what I should write. What I do know is that I am not going to let more days turn into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years, and continue doing nothing. That is indeed the biggest mistake I could make.