Making Mistakes

I am sitting in my son’s pre-Algebra class. The teacher is incredible. Really good. I think math scares a lot of us. It is the fear of making a mistake, the fear of not even knowing what the teacher is talking about or getting answers incorrect that probably is the root of it all.

This teacher said, “homework is about making mistakes and learning how to correct them.” “If you aren’t making any mistakes you shouldn’t be in this class.”

I thought about how profound this was. If in our home we aren’t making some mistake and learning from them, should we be in the home? We will have graduated to the next class, or next life. As long as we are on earth, we are going to make mistakes. Should we be so afraid to make them that we become paralyzed? NO. This would be a waste of time. Making mistakes is the only real way to learn. NO, I should scracht that last sentence. We can learn from others’ mistakes. This is effective. We see what happened when our fellow students broke one of the rules and got sent to the principal’s office. We can learn by sitting in 12 step groups and see what some of the consequences our fellows have made and I do think we learn from them. But what I mean to say is, that “one of the most effective means of learning is through our own mistakes.” How many of us have learned something really, really valuable and it changed our lives, with out some form of making a mistake and correcting it though God’s grace. We are inclined not to make that same mistake again. How many of us didn’t learn from instruction of others, or the mistakes of others?

So, think about this. If we make more mistakes are we going to learn more? Maybe. I think we all would like to learn from the mistakes of others, or get the information from books or others, rather than suffer through the mistakes. Perhaps it is the suffering that gets our attention. But if addiction is all about “not suffering” are we going to learn? Maybe this is why we get stuck in the addiction and we get stuck. We aren’t wanting to feel the discomfort of what the addiction is telling us. So we don’t learn every time is smacks us to the ground. We get back up as though nothing happened. We might feel so ashamed, we can’t learn.

It is said that:

The humble progress.

If we are not humble, we don’t learn from our mistakes. We don’t show are work in the spiritual math class, we guess at the answer. But in recovery, we need to show our work. We tell on ourselves, we don’t just show our work, we show our mistakes. It is showing our mistakes to the teacher or others that we learn from them. In doing this, we become humble and God’s grace is given to the humble.

The teacher her is humble. She doesn’t pretend to know everything. She is very accepting of the student’s level of knowledge, their mistakes and distractions in the classroom. By creating this safe atmosphere the students are learning and learning is more fun.

If the teacher is prideful, shaming, controlling and expects too much. . . the students are too afraid to learn. Are we too afraid to make mistakes that we aren’t learning what we need to learn in recovery? We have to be patient with ourselves and not expect too much. We can ask God who is a great Teacher who is going to be patient with us, love us, help us correct our homework mistakes and expects us to do our own work. We have to do some of the work, but He is the one who ultimately enables us to learn.

If we are humble we are there to learn and not to teacher. We let go our our own ideas and learn new ones. Our problem often is that we hold onto our own ideas. Why? fear? Shame? We can’t admit that we don’t have a clue how to live our life.

In the math class of life won’t want 3 X 3 to = 9, we think it should equal what we want it to be. Math isn’t going to change. It is what it is. I know there is a “New Math” out there but it is about how to do the math, not the actual facts of math. If we are humble and really look at the mistakes we have made, we will see how we have errored and we will learn that 3 times 3 is 9. It isn’t want we think, what we feel, but it is and always will be 9. Math is learned best with less shame and fear. I think sometimes, people who think they are not good at math, it is not their brainpower to learn it, but really their fear or shame that prevents them from learning it.

Do not let your fears get in the way of learning what you need to in recovery, or your life. Your life is too precious. Addiction might have tricked you to think your:

You + your life = 0

But this is not the case. You and your life are precious to God whether you have made a lot of mistakes or not, whether you learned from them or not, whether you are GOING to learn from them or not.

Take care,


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