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Once we make a mistake, we have to live and deal with our new reality of having made that mistake. If damage control is possible we must do that. But if there’s nothing we can do to repair what we damaged, we need to accept that, move on, and do our very best not to make that same mistake again. What else can we do at that point??


Previous Natural Wisdom post


Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Time for another post in my new series, Natural Wisdom. This is a series where I write about some of the lessons God has taught me, through nature. God teaches us so much through nature if we’re willing to watch and listen to see and hear the Wisdom.

The latest lesson that’s come to me from working on my land is a lesson about mistakes. Mistakes; something we all make. Every person on this planet makes mistakes, with no exceptions. Over the course of our lives, we are all going to screw up … a lot. And there are levels to this mistake business. Some mistakes are much worse than others, some mistakes have bigger consequences than others. But every mistake causes some level of injury, to somebody. Although sometimes the only injured person is ourselves.

Anyway, what do we do once a mistake has been made?? That’s the most important part of this talk of mistakes, actually. What do we do next?? Well, to over-simplify a bit, the answer is that we need to move on. We need to deal with what we’ve done, deal with our new situation, fix things if we can, and no matter what, we need to move on.

What else is there to do??

That’s the topic for today. So let’s think about it.

My Bad

When I go out to work on my land, there are lots of mistakes I can make. And I say that from experience because I have made many mistakes out there. And I know I have many more mistakes ahead of me. It is what it is. I’ll give just one example of what kind of mistakes await me out there.

As I’m located in the Caribbean, one thing we have a lot of down here are banana trees. Banana trees are a real blessing and a great asset to have. Each tree is very generous, giving a yield of many bananas in its short life. But one thing about banana trees though, is that getting the most out of them and unlocking their full productive potential takes a lot of work.

Banana trees grow, produce, and die quickly. They’re constantly having some of their leaves (which are very big) die. The dead leaves simply hang limp from the live tree, so one job that must be done on a regular basis is cutting away the dead leaves. Cutting away these dead leaves, which aren’t doing the tree any good, is best for the tree’s general health. Banana trees need a good airflow, and chopping away the dead leaves hanging down from the trees makes it easier for air to flow through the trees.

Take a look at some photos. Then you can see what I mean.

Bananas forming on a tree, and you also see dead/dying leaves

You can see quite a few dead leaves hanging down. Cutting away dead leaves is a job that must be done often, over and over again.

So how is it possible to make a mistake here, cutting off dead leaves??

Well, it can be tricky to cut these leaves off. If you don’t chop it with a machete the right way, it leaves a lot of the dead leaf hanging, as you can see in the second photo. Much worse, if you simply try to pull these leaves off, you rip the skin right off the tree!! Skin is the correct word because banana trees don’t have bark.

As you can imagine, it’s not good for the tree to rip its skin off. And ripping skin off the tree isn’t supposed to happen when we go to cut the dead leaves off. Ripping the skin off, this is a mistake. A damaging mistake.

But once I make this mistake, there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s impossible for me to put the ripped skin back on the tree. There’s no way to fix the damage. So what can I do?? I can do nothing but accept what I’ve done and resolve to do better. All I can do is not beat myself up over it and move on.

And that’s only one example among many, many others. But I won’t run down the list because then this blog post would never end. It’s enough to know that, as I develop my land and try to grow food here, there are tons of mistakes I can make by either doing or not doing something. Sins of commission and sins of omission.

Accept it, Fix it, Deal with it … and Keep Going

Each of these mistakes has consequences, some worse than others. But once the mistake is made, the damage is done, and my only option is to live with that. If I strip the skin off a banana tree trying to take those dead leaves off, my only choice is to say “whoops, shouldn’t have done that.” There’s really nothing I can do to repair the situation or the tree (which will heal on its own).

There’s nothing else to do, no way to make it better. And so I’ve been learning as I keep working on the land and making mistakes that being able to move past mistakes is a skill and it’s very important. We need to be able to move on from a mistake and not get stuck in guilt or anxiety over it. We need to switch gears and deal with the damage we caused, if that’s possible. We need to understand the new situation, fix it if we can, and live with it and move on if we can’t.

Once we make a mistake, we have to live and deal with our new reality of having made that mistake. If damage control is possible we must do that. But if there’s nothing we can do to repair what we damaged, we need to accept that, move on, and do our very best not to make that same mistake again. What else can we do at that point??

I forgive myself when I make a mistake on the land. We need to do the same when we make mistakes. Not forgiving ourselves stops us from moving past the error.

I know that this is a theological sticking point for many. Of course I know that only God Forgives sins, through Jesus. But that’s not exactly the meaning I had in mind when I say we need to forgive our mistakes. What I mean is that, to move on from a mistake and do better in the future, we need to let go of the guilt of that mistake and stop beating ourselves up over it. That guilt we feel can be put to better use as motivation to not make that same mistake again.

So when we screw up, which we’re guaranteed to do over and over again in life, we need to not beat ourselves up about it. We need to move on, and resolve to do better in the future.

We all Make Mistakes

This applies to every part of life, not only the things we do outside in nature. Everyone sins and makes mistakes (Romans 3:23). And over the course of our life, we will make these sins and mistakes in every aspect of our public and private lives. That’s guaranteed, because we are human, and making mistakes is what humans do. (But don’t worry, humans make a lot of other things too, not only blunders.)

What I’ve learned from nature about moving on from mistakes applies to the other mistakes of life too. When we sin and someone has been injured somehow (in any way), if it’s at all possible to repair the damage we must do so. We need to make things right if we can. If we can’t, that’s too bad for all involved. But whatever the case, if we’re going to move on in life and not be mentally stuck at the moment of this mistake, we need to let go of the guilt we feel and forgive ourselves inside. Then we can learn from what we did wrong, look to the future, and do better tomorrow.

In extreme cases, such as if an actual crime was committed, “making things right” would also mean submitting to human justice and going to prison. But I’ll be honest that I didn’t have that kind of extreme case in mind. Because I doubt my blog Readers are out there murdering, maiming, and destroying. I was thinking of lesser sins.

Even without going to extremes though, it’s still possible for us to cause a lot of hurt, even when we don’t mean to. We can hurt people emotionally, mentally, Spiritually, financially … there are many types of damage we can inadvertently cause.

If there’s any way to make things right with the injured party (damage control), we must do it. But if there’s nothing we can do to make things right, then we have to get right with God. And after some time spent reflecting on what we did, and being sorry for it, it’s time to say “whoops” and move on. (Remember, as I write this I’m not imagining in my mind extreme sins like murder or assault; I’m thinking smaller.)

What else can we do?? What other options do we have?? When there’s no way to fix it, we need to say “whoops” and move on, resolving to do better in the future. Our mistakes do not define us, and very, very few mistakes in life are impossible to recover from.

So when you screw up some time, like I screw up on many occasions working on my land, the way forward is twofold. Deal with the new situation caused by that mistake, and stop beating ourselves up over it.

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Until next time, be strong and do good!!

Your new best friend in Christ,

99:9

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One comment on “Natural Wisdom Part 6: Whoops

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