Recently I have been pondering the possibility of someone making an honest mistake. My thoughts are prompted by a discussion I had about someone’s actions. In this conversation the accuser was questioning the motives and intentions of another person. A mistake was made and that is for sure, but what concerned me was that this person was reading way too much into the story.
Is it possible to make an honest mistake? To not have some hidden agenda to hurt another person? To do something wrong without trying to subconsciously or consciously hurt that person at a deeper level?
I forget to invite you, not because I have something against you. I just forgot.
I didn’t say that to hurt you. I just forgot about your struggle.
I didn’t write that to try and put you down. I thought it was funny.
I didn’t shake your hand because I was thinking about other things. Not because I am mad at you.
I never thought to send you a card. I was just busy and failed to follow through
Yes, I threw that away. I had no idea it meant that much to you.
The list could go on and on.
I firmly believe that each one of us can make an honest mistake without deeper meaning.
First – If you make an honest mistake …
1. Own up to it. Don’t blame other people. Don’t make excuses. Just be honest.
2. Say you are sorry for what happened. When something regrettable happens we need to share the regret.
3. Ask for forgiveness. This is hard. The words, “Will you forgive me?” are priceless.
4. Let it go.
Second – If someone has wronged you …
1. Let other people fail. We all do things wrong. Don’t hold other people to a higher standard than you hold yourself.
2. Don’t question motives too deeply. It is okay to wonder about the root of the problem, but be careful not to attribute thoughts and feelings to other people unless they have been expressly stated. Only God knows the heart of a person.
3. Offer grace and forgiveness. It has been said of Christians, “We offer forgiveness of the unforgivable actions of others, because God forgave the unforgivable actions of us.”
4. Offer help. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to say, “This happens a lot. Can I help you with this problem?”
5. Let it go. There is no need to keep replaying the mistakes of other people and holding it against them into the future. It will only rob tomorrow of its joy.
I hope this is helpful. I hope nothing I said offends you. Honestly.