The Mistake

The-GiftPhotograph by Sara B. Healy

A Bird Picture

This picture was a mistake. I was struggling to capture photographs of birds at my feeder. The minute they heard the camera, they were a blur of wings. I took a lot of photographs and thanks to digital, I deleted most of them.

When I looked at this one in the viewfinder all I saw was a blur and assumed it was just another mistake. I started to delete it, but stopped. I’m glad I saved it.

My camera and this bird created something magical and special for me. It’s not technically a good photograph, but there’s something unique about it. I see this mistake as a gift.

Making Mistakes

We all make mistakes; it’s part of life. Some are big and some not so big. When we make mistakes, it’s not the mistake that causes us problems; it’s how we react to it.

There was a time in our lives when mistakes didn’t exist in our minds. As babies, we discovered how to become human by making mistakes; we fell before we walked, we learned hot and cold by touch, and how things tasted by putting them in our mouth.

Unless someone constantly corrected us, these mistakes were simply learning experiences. They carried no particular emotional baggage.

As we grew older, things changed, as did the words that accompanied our “mistakes.” When we did something wrong we heard “Don’t do that!” or “That’s bad, stop it.”

Suddenly, mistakes weren’t just neutral ways to learn because there was a negative feeling attached to the learning. Later, we would discover that some mistakes came with punishments, further reinforcing that mistakes were bad.

Learning from Making Mistakes

We have a choice about how we see our mistakes. We can continue to see them as wrong, or we can choose to see them as gifts; like my bird picture.

Sometimes these mistake “gifts” create a new path of learning and opportunity for us in our journey through life.

A friend of mine was fired from her job and it upset her greatly. However, it gave her the momentum to go back to school and now she has a job she loves. In her case, a mistake gave her the gift of a career that she’d always wanted.

Some mistakes make it more difficult to find the gift, but it is still there. A member of my family was driving with a group of friends and they’d all been drinking. There was a car accident and one of the friends was paralyzed.

As the driver of the car, my family member was haunted by the mistake for years. He asked for forgiveness, which was not given.

This tormented him, but he made a choice to move on from it. He found a way to turn his life around. He stopped drinking, went back to school and had a family.

While he couldn’t get forgiveness from his friend, he found the strength to forgive himself. This was the gift of his mistake.

Mistakes happen and we can’t change that. We can change how we react to them. Next time you make a mistake, stop for a second and ask yourself “What’s the gift in this mistake?”

What about you?

Have you ever made a mistake that turned into a “gift” for you?