Letters to Tom — Mistakes

Dear Tom,

I thought this year we might spend a little time discussing mistakes. A quarterback throws an interception, and is told to forget it and keep throwing. He does and leads the team to victory, but at the press conference the press still asks about the interception. “Would he like to have it back?” A man I counseled asked, “when am I able to put it all behind me and forget it ever happened.” I tell him the truth — it doesn’t ever go away. It becomes a part of you, a part of who you are. It’s how you incorporate mistakes into your life that’s critical. I’m interested what Sufi wisdom you might add to the discussion.

My daughter told me she attended a seminar where a lawyer discussed openly and candidly the mistakes he made and uses his own mistakes to help others to learn. That takes a lot of courage on his part, but at the same time mistakes are our greatest teachers. I think it is more than learning from our mistakes themselves. We view humanity and our society differently as well. Beginning with Adam humans disobey and fall from grace. Jesus never said believe in me, and you will live a sin free life, instead he said your sins will be forgiven. He acknowledged that human failure is part of each and every one of us, and cautioned us to not judge and to be merciful.

I try to explain to the people who beat themselves up about their mistakes that it’s okay to let go and not dwell on your mistake. There will be plenty of other people who will remind you. What’s important is to see it for what it is, part of your humanity, to reconcile if possible, to accept responsibility, but most importantly to allow it to help you be more understanding and forgiving of others. Often then a mistake can become a blessing. Like the quarterback who learned from the interception that the safety was cheating over one way, and to throw the pass in a different direction for the touchdown.

Your friend, Webb

About the author

Webb Hubbell, former Associate Attorney General of The United States, is an author and speaker. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller.

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