Loss and Gain
Lent 18 (and 15)
“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” I messed up. It is not the first time and will not, I am certain, be the last but I did mess up. I counted incorrectly, a problem when one works ahead and loses track of where one is and when something will be posted. I could explain that there were technological issues as well as weather delays but the bottom line is… I messed up.
I could get all over on myself about the mistake. I could listen to the voices inside my psyche that instantly begin to list others instances of my not being perfect. Having been raised by a perfectionist parent, I don’t have to imagine those voices. They are ever present, trust me. It is almost as if, by messing up, I have lost a part of myself.
When we mourn, we feel an intense emotion. Bereavement is described as something less severe but mourning is powerful, concentrated emotion that hits many of us in a number of different circumstances, not just when a loved one passes on or dies. When I mess up, I mourn and that is followed by, typically, one of the stages of grief – anger.
There are those who try to tell us not to overthink when we mess up but sometimes we should. It often is what keeps us from making the same mistakes over and over. Grief has a purpose in our bank of emotions and we need to realize it and let ourselves experience it as part of the growing process.
Timothy Shriver is chairman of Special Olympics, an organization started by his mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. I like his thoughts on when we mess up: “What’s to rationalize? You mean you shouldn’t pray if you haven’t got your s–t together? This is another fairly common misconception of faith, which is that people who go to church, or people who pray, or people who talk about their religion must be, somehow more pious or ethically rigorous or have more morally cleansed lifestyle. The high correlation is supposed to be between faith and your search, the depth of your search, your willingness to try, your willingness to admit error, your hope and belief in the ultimate meaning and value of that search.”
Are you holding yourself up to an impossible standard, one that disallows both messing up and grief? When we lose someone or something, we feel sadness because the person or item had value in our lives. We need to remember that we had the opportunity to have that someone or something special and find comfort in that knowledge. Messing up simply means we had an opportunity to try something and that is often not something others can say they have had. I messed up numbering my blog posts but I am still able to post. The next day several people reposted that blog and I am grateful to them and overjoyed. Realizing I messed up was not enjoyable but finding comfort in that the post got read and reposted was solace indeed.
I am not trying to say that losing a loved one is the same as a numerical mix-up. It is not. Both, however, are opportunities, prospects that life has given us to be explored, enjoyed, and valued. There is much to be gained from spending time with a valued companion and from making mistakes. Regret should not be part of the equation, though. Never regret the time spent with someone or something for which you cared. A mistake is simply a chance to grow and learn. Both offer great comfort to me.