“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” — 2 Peter 3:9
If I were to ask you, “Do you think mistakes are OK?” what would you say? Depending on your personal relationship with failure, you might argue that mistakes should be avoided at all costs. Or that mistakes deserve punishment. Or you might say that mistakes are for learning and that, as long as you don’t make the same mistakes twice, they are all right.
Whatever your answer, we could probably agree that mistakes are not enjoyable. They often make us frustrated, particularly if it was something preventable. There’s a desire for perfection in all of us, and it comes out in the way we parent, coach, advise or discipline ourselves.
During a recent tennis match, former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero — now the coach of rising teenage phenom and recent U.S. Open champion, Carlos Alcaraz — told his player something very wise along these lines. Alcaraz was struggling with his game and the score was not in his favor. The mic picked up Ferrero’s voice as he said, “Calm down. If you miss, it’s no problem.”
Talk about positive coaching! Talk about encouragement!
This attitude made me wonder what life would look like — how we would treat others and ourselves — if we lived like mistakes were forgivable. How might our lives transform if we believed that mess-ups and misses were “no problem”? That failures and falls and trips and spills in life were fixable or, at the very least, teachable moments for us to grow? That the key to life is to calm down and keep trying? To not get frustrated with ourselves or those around us, and to keep things in perspective?
Sometimes, I think we’re so set on perfection that we lose the beauty in our imperfections. We forget that God often does His greatest work in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). God understands that we are human and failure is a common theme for us here on this fallen, broken earth. He allows for the fact that we all need grace and patience as we make our way toward Heaven and figure out this journey called life.
So maybe we need to go a little easier on ourselves and on each other. We need to quit beating ourselves (or others) up for the mistakes we all make. In sports and in life, failure is inevitable. You’ll have bad games, bad races, bad meets or bad matches. You’ll make bad business moves, bad personal choices or bad deals. Remember that this process called growth isn’t about perfection but progress.
So the next time you blow it badly, think about Ferrero’s advice and take some time to calm down, because from the standpoint of God and of those who love you most, “If you miss, it’s no problem.”
— Katherine Singer
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