On Making Mistakes and Pressing On

A laptop, an editing project, and a glass of iced tea walked into a bar onto a table . . .

You know where this joke is going, don’t you? Only it wasn’t a joke.

Photo courtesy of Heike Martin Photography

A slow motion grab for a tipping glass, 20 oz. of tea up and over the laptop and across the mostly edited pages of a client’s magazine project. A desperate cry of help for my husband to come to the rescue.

Holding the computer upside down while tea poured out, drying it with paper towel with it still upside down. Using the vacuum cleaner to try to suction the liquid out.

Meanwhile my husband rescuing the papers, drying them off and spreading them across the living room to air dry. Later, I’ll actually iron the most wrinkled pages so that I can return them to the client with my changes noted on them.

Chair cushions and tables and floors and rugs to be cleaned.

Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

And while it all goes on, I repeat, “I can’t believe I was that stupid to not put a lid on that cup.” Or “I can’t believe I’m so klutzy that I knocked that over.” And “I’m such an idiot.” And so on, into the night and all the way to the Apple store the next morning, where AppleCare, three days, and $299 saved my computer.

In life, things go wrong. Some are our own fault or foolishness or carelessness or sin. Some of our problems come through the faults or failings of others. And some like cancer and death arrive courtesy of life in a fallen world.

So how do we handle life’s disappointment, its tragedies? My friend Rochelle told me today of Hal Elrod’s advice in his book Miracle Morning. He recommends setting a timer for five minutes and allowing yourself to rage and rant or cry and whine—whatever feels best. When the timer buzzes, you say three words—”Can’t change it”—and move on.

It reminds me of the apostle Paul’s recommendation in Philippians 3:13–14:

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Photo by Nick Dietrich on Unsplash

Paul had a lot to forget: People dragged off to prison or murdered for their faith, in his misguided attempt to protect God’s reputation. That’s truly more regrettable than iced tea spilled on a computer.

But he says we forget what’s behind us and “press on.” (Hey, I “pressed on” the editing pages with my iron! But I don’t think that’s what he’s talking about.) Know our goal, our high calling in Christ Jesus, and press on.

I can’t change the fact that I’m $300 poorer because of a careless mistake. I can try to learn from it (for instance, there’s a lid on my cup tonight). And I can and must press on. Not just through the 300 emails that accumulated while my computer was out of service. But to the work God has called me to do. I want my life to count for his kingdom, so today—and every day—it’s time to kick regret to the curb and move forward.

What about you? What do you need to leave behind because you “can’t change it” so you can “press on” to the adventure God has for you?

2 thoughts on “On Making Mistakes and Pressing On”

  1. Carol, I can SO relate! I am currently reading Eugene Peterson’s Long Obedience in the Same Direction, today starting on Ps 131 about humbling ourselves before God–and then finding ourselves as a weaned child with its mother. I’m not there very often, but at least I have a direction in which to go.


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