The Art of the Grace Erase Rubbing out mistakes instead of rubbing them in
The Art of the Grace Erase
Rubbing out mistakes instead of rubbing them in
Before the days of smart phones, my husband and I were invited by a lovely couple in our church to come for dinner in their home. About 6:45, our house phone rang. “Hey Dale. Just checking to see if you guys are on your way over for dinner?”
My husband and I stared at each other incredulously. Both of us had completely forgotten to make a note of the date. Considering we were sitting on the couch in our PJ’s having finished dinner at home, yeah, you can surmise the rest. We stood them up.
What a terrible mistake! We laugh about it with them now, but at the time, I beat myself up, imagining them spending hours preparing a delicious meal for their pastors – who never showed.
Mistakes happen. A lot.
Sometimes, like our dinner disaster, we are to blame for a mistake. Our mistake cost that precious couple time and money, and could’ve cost us our relationship with them had they not been so grace-giving. And other times, someone else is to blame for a mistake that costs us in resources, time or energy.
When we make a mistake, our instinct is to panic, get defensive, or even lie to hide the mistake. Perhaps you’ve been there?
- You wake up to a dead car battery and realize you didn’t turn the lights off…
- You get called into the boss’ office to explain why the books aren’t adding up properly…
- You completely forgot to send that email you promised and now everything is delayed…
Or perhaps you’ve been on the other side of a mistake – where someone’s negligence, irresponsibility or lack of knowledge costs you something.
- You make it all the way home from picking up dinner only to realize you were given the wrong order…
- You leave work early for an appointment only to find out they rescheduled you and forgot to leave you a message…
- You spend as long doing a project as it needed because your team members fumbled along the way…
Mistakes can cost us lost productivity, money and time. They can also cost us mental and emotional frustration.
Recently, I rearranged my day and drove 30 minutes for an appointment, only to find when I got there that the manager had forgotten someone was using the space we needed. So, I drove back again in the evening – only to realize he had forgotten – again.
I was annoyed. Irritated. Frustrated. I felt overlooked and angry that my day didn’t go as planned because of someone else’s mistake.
Just to clarify, I’m not talking about colossal mistakes that belong in the “sin” or “rebellion” category. That’s a blog for another day.
I’m talking about honest mistakes that could have been avoided had someone been more aware or responsible. I’m talking about mistakes that throw a wrench in our day and put a dent in our attitude. The kind of mistakes where we want to give someone a piece of our mind or let them know just how much added stress they caused us. Yeah, those mistakes.
So how can we handle mistakes with grace? What if we practiced the Art of the Grace Erase and started rubbing mistakes out instead of rubbing them in?
When we’re the ones making mistakes, these simple steps will enable us to handle them with grace:
1 – Be honest. Don’t lie, hide or deflect blame. Simply stating, “I’m so sorry I made that mistake. I understand how frustrating this must be for you,” validates the other person’s feelings and admits responsibility. As we stared at our empty dinner plates that fateful night, all we could say was, “OH MY WORD. We are so, so, so, so (yes I think we used that many so’s) sorry!”
2 – Be open. Each mistake holds the potential to serve as a teacher. Be open to learn from a mistake. Perhaps slowing down your pace would help you become more organized instead of missing appointments. Maybe a couple more hours of rest would bring a more rested, productive “you” into the workplace. Stay humble and willing to receive correction as an investment into your life.
I can be the worst about rubbing in mistakes when what God really wants from me is to rub them out.
When we’re on the receiving end of mistakes, these simple steps will help us develop the Art of the Grace Erase:
1 – Be honest. (yep, can’t really get around that either way.) It’s healthy to share your feelings in a constructive way. “I understand mistakes happen, but I rearranged my day to be here and this is an inconvenience. What can we do to avoid this moving forward?” Keep statements in an “I perspective” instead of “you did…” and focus on what can be salvaged and mined out of the rubble of a mistake.
2- Let it go. In the words of Elsa, Let. It. Go. We can’t control our emotions but we can control what we do with them. When feelings of irritation, anger or frustration boil up, acknowledge the emotion without allowing it to find a stronghold. When we hold on to negativity, it drains our emotional and spiritual reserves. Recognize that the person didn’t intend to cause you frustration or pain. Reach for the Grace Erase and choose to rub out mistakes instead of rubbing them in. Practice the Art of the Grace Erase: “I understand that mistakes happen, and I make them too. I used to forget appointments a lot until I started using the alerts in my phone. Have you tried that tool?” That’s just one example, but you get the jist.
Mistakes require grace. And that in itself is a beautiful lesson; we can learn from our own mistakes and the mistakes of others how to give and receive grace. If you want to “Make Your Life Matter No Matter What,” practice the Art of the Grace Erase. Next time someone stands you up for dinner (can you tell I’m not sure I’m over it?), forgive them and put another date on the calendar. Next time your spouse irritates you because they forgot to do something they promised, or your child frustrates you because their mistakes cost you in extra work, try rubbing the mistake out instead of rubbing it in. After all, aren’t we thankful God originated the Grace Erase? Whew. I sure am.
This week, let’s rub out someone’s mistake instead of rubbing it in. Grace Erases Mistakes.
Make Your Life Matter No Matter What
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