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The Great Beauty of Little Mistakes

I noticed something interesting today.  I’m pretty sure that I noticed it before, but it hit me today more piercingly than it has in the past, probably because all that I’ve been thinking about who I am.  There is something beautiful about screwing up a little bit.  There is something about making small mistakes that has the ability to connect us as people.

I went shopping at a few different places today.  At the first, the cashier lady was initially quite withdrawn and seemed to be uncomfortable, so I became a little more quiet out of respect for her.  The machine that was supposed to read my debit card and print out a receipt was taking forever.  She said it was supposed to go faster, I made a joke about it, the tension in her face released.  When the receipt finally printed, I simply said, “There we go!” she laughed, we bid eachother goodday, and we connected.  The error of the machine allowed what would have been a wasted interaction become a connecting point for both of us.

The second store story is what incited my thought process.  I went to Aldi’s, which is a super busy place for the single cashier working there.  They are all about getting you through the line and out the door.  I didn’t really connect with her initially.  She didn’t respond to me asking her about her day.  She didn’t respond to my smile or my hello.  I told her to have a good day (very forcefully and threateningly) and left with my stuff.  I was almost out the door, she called out “sir” and I turned around.  I left my eggs sitting in the cart.  I looked at her, smiled, and said “thank you.”  She laughed and smilingly went about her work of getting people through the aisle.  But we, in the moment of my relaxed response to my error, made a small connection.

The point: when things go wrong, especially when we do something wrong, it can function to unlock a door that once kept us from making a human connection with someone else.  We all make mistakes, it’s a universal connector.  It is, as Doc Moritz would say, a place where our stories connect at a particular level.  It is a potential starting point to transformation and links us as people who share life experiences.

Little mistakes are also a point of vulnerability.  I doubt that anyone really enjoys making mistakes.   Most people hate it.  Little mistakes can make people feel vulnerable.  Many people lie about the mistakes they made.  Often we communicatively mitigate our mistakes and cover them up or somehow make our errors seem a lot less erroneous than they were.  Self-aggrandizement, subject changing, self-shaming, attacks on the character of someone else, and emotional distancing are some other tactics used by people to separate themselves from their mistakes or separate themselves from people because of their mistakes.  I hope this is making some sense, I’m writing in Hermeneutics again, thinking both about stuff in class and what I’m trying to write…

Responses that: minimize mistakes, somehow distance us from those around us during the mistakes, or recognize the mistakes post hoc are useless responses.  The responses waste a perfectly good mistake.  The small mistake that provides an opportunity to connect with somebody functions to disconnect us with people when we react negatively to our mistakes.   It is our insecure pride that causes us to engage in distancing tactics with mistakes and people.  We miss out on how beautiful our mistakes can be and instead protect our social- and self-images.

*pause* While the “us” is true, this conversation should be focused around me.  I need to use my mistakes in such a way as to build intimacy with those around me.  I usually don’t.  I usually respond in a piss poor manner when I make a mistake.  I usually separate myself from my mistakes and in so doing separate myself from people.  I’m sorry for wasting opportunities to connect with you and instead separated myself from you.  I do want to be close to you.  Help me use my mistakes to deepen my intimacy with you.

Coming Up Next: “The Unwritten Word of God.”  A very brief thought on God’s voice found within Scripture speaking outside of Scripture.

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