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Making Mistakes into Gifts

by Dani Kreeft

Most of us will do anything not to feel pain. It’s why we often curdle and cringe at the word workshop. It’s basically an invitation to disturb the bordered-off plains of our emotional no man’s land, and we know exactly why we haven’t crossed into its borders, why we’ve numbed our acknowledgement of its existence.

But I knew vulnerability was non-negotiable if I really wanted to heal anything, so in one of our one-on-one coaching sessions, I reluctantly offered up a mistake I’d made in my early twenties that I’d carried around like a secret badge of failure. Fear, shame, guilt, regret, uncertainty, struggle, grief, disappointment, pain, you name it – its inhabitants can be dark and haunted at best. The only antidote that can pour some light on that kind of darkness is vulnerability. And if there’s one word people curdle and cringe at more than workshop, it’s vulnerability.

When our facilitator told us to, “Ask Jesus, “How were you pleased with me in that situation where I thought I failed?”, I fell silent, still not seeing it, coming up with nothing.

But my one-on-one coaching partner wrote an answer down on a piece of paper and slid it across the table.I flipped it over and it read, “I was so pleased that you were done with religion. I’m not about the rules. I’m about the heart.”

In that moment, God reminded me that because of that mistake, I’d thrown out any kind of legalistic goal posts or righteous rule-book and told Him the only way He and I would ever work was if it was raw, if I could be myself, and if my muddy human trenches were a place He’d be in with me. And we’d had that kind of relationship ever since – one that was real, that was alive, that was this beating, beautiful thing.

This whole time I’d been the only one calling it a mistake when it was actually the start of something. The start of something real.

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