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Dropped the Ball

17 Mar

We all generally try to do our best every day. We try to make good decisions, try to be nice to those around us, and basically strive to be good people. But sometimes things get away from us and we fumble the ball. Maybe we get carried away in conversation and forget a commitment, say something we don’t really mean, or take revenge on someone we feel has hurt us in some way. When we act in ways that are beneath what we really want for ourselves we may feel really bad later, and if we let those we care about down, the disappointment in their eyes can be crushing. But we’re only human and we’re going to falter from time to time. Perfection is after all the goal and not the achievement. And so when we stumble and do the wrong thing, we have to find a way to make things right again. We have to listen when those we’ve negatively impacted tell us how they feel, and we have to take our lumps because we’ve earned them. It’s normal to make mistakes from time to time. It doesn’t mean we’re bad people, it doesn’t mean we don’t care, and it doesn’t mean we aren’t worthwhile. It just means we dropped the ball. And if we did, we can pick it right back up again.

Personal shame is a horrible feeling. Shame may be one of the most destructive emotions we can feel. It can not only make us feel bad about something we’ve done, if we aren’t careful, it can make us feel bad about who we are. If we feel great shame, depression may soon follow. We may believe that we’ll never get things right, that we’ll always screw up, and that we aren’t worth anything to anyone. But none of that is true. Just because we make a mistake doesn’t mean we never do things right. We often get it right and we are worth more than we can even imagine, even when we falter. If we play a game and drop the ball we may get a penalty, but we aren’t banned from the game forever more. It’s the same in life. If we go the wrong way, we aren’t finished. We just need to turn around and correct our course.

The penalties we face when we make mistakes should be commensurate with the negative impact they cause. Just like in law, the penalty should fit the crime. The same is true with our personal lives. If we forget to bake a promised batch of cookies, it shouldn’t destroy a relationship. But if we lie, cheat, and manipulate others, that might be the cost. It’s like a pendulum – it should swing equally in both directions. That’s important to remember when someone we care about lets us down. If we can keep our perspective when we tell them how we feel and don’t return more chastening than is needed, we have a better chance of preserving our relationships. We all make mistakes and sometimes we hurt others because of them. But nobody really wants to do things wrong and when we do, we deserve the opportunity to make things right again. Our relationships are important. Truly valuing them will help us heal and forgive as we move along.

Today if you’ve dropped the ball and someone has been hurt, you can pick it back up again. Offer to make things right and do everything you can to correct your course. If someone has made a mistake that has hurt you, remember when you’ve faltered and offer the chance for them to fix things. You can be kind and understanding. Extend your hand to turn things around and forgive. You’ll be able to make things better and you’ll be happier because of it.

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