on mistakes

We are all fundamentally born with fight or flight responses.

They come into play for everything we do. From our reflexes, knee-jerk reactions, avoidance tactics, our relationships, and even– before, during, & after the “mistakes” we make in life.

But the noteworthy thing about our responses & mistakes, is that they’re made moment to moment.

They’re often a {not so graceful} dance between our true selves (seeing our place in the world & among others as safe) and our perceived threats (seeing our place in the world & among others as not safe).

There are what I’ll call “toxic triggers” (people, familiar settings, instances, objects, substances, accidents), that can catapult us between the two personas, based on our susceptibility to them, in that instance. These triggers can arouse doubt, fear, mistrust, anger, and indecision as strong as paralysis {*if we let them*}.

These moments of weakness, or vulnerabilities, seemingly give us only two paths to take:

Option 1 leads you into thinking you can beat it. “One day, I’m going to be better. One day I’m going to have it all figured out. I’ll be e n l i g h t e n e d and perfect all on my own. Untouchable.” But really, you only justify, make excuses, and react. You’ll damn near stop at nothing to make sure no-one and nothing gets in your way. Fight mentality. 

Option 2 comes from ignorance, and not in the form of unfamiliarity, but idiocy. You literally ignore what you already know to be true. With this approach, any weakness quickly becomes your downfall, catching you unguarded, feeling confused,  “naked”, & maybe even “better off dead”. You feel attacked and victimized (over & over again). We want to hide, run, move, quit, or simply…d i s a p p e a r. Flight mentality. 

Sounds like a rock and a hard place, no?


But I’m beginning to see some light, a third way

crack in everything

Option 3 is when you own your mistakes.

{Sorry for the pop culture references}… But I can’t help but think of Katniss of The Hunger Games and Tris from Divergent. They were each so successful in their battles not because they played to their strengths, but because they were fully aware of (and even exposed) their weaknesses.The Dauntless trained with firearms that only simulated the feeling of a gun shot wound. That’s because being hit with ammo you’ve already grown accustomed to doesn’t quite hit as hard. 

Katniss chose allies based on what she knew she lacked. Tris became Dauntless and surpassed her fears because of the way in which she allowed her mind to see outside of herself and focus on what was real. She thought strategically, like climbing up to a better vantage point to find the flag, rather than staying headstrong and fighting from the ground.

Katniss & Tris didn’t go around thinking they were invincible, they actually lived irrationally. Without knowing, without understanding, and still– without hesitation.

That murky realm beyond human comprehension is life-giving. That’s where we get to stop, and He gets to take the reigns

Don’t get me wrong, I’m afraid of lots of things but I don’t particularly have a fear like heights or snakes or planes. You can bet I’d be curious to see what would pop up for me if I had to enter that virtual fear simulator like Tris. Maybe you’re also like me and can’t particularly think of (or haven’t allowed yourself to admit) what it is you fear.

But if you can’t think of what you fear, think of what it is you want–what you most desire.

Ask yourself of what & who it is that you love. It might even be buried so deep inside you that you don’t even allow yourself to realize it.

Perhaps not fufulling that core desire, not being that person is your greatest fear.

Maybe you (again, like me) fear pain. Physical pain. Pain from relationships. Pain from being your own worst enemy. Pain from ‘failure’. Pain from self-sabotage and driving the good out of your life . Pain from never depositing the goodness that is present, anywhere else. Pain from n u m b n e s s.

Pain like Gus felt, the cancer-stricken boy from The Fault in Our Stars, who feared oblivion and not being remembered {hope you don’t mind yet another movie reference}. 

But grief doesn’t change you. It reveals you...and like Tris learned, becoming fearless isn’t the point.”

It is in your fear & weakness, where your faith {and His strength} comes to play.


The good news is, when it comes to our mistakes, we are all different people from when we made them. Immediately. Like right now. And now. And now. Based solely on the totality of the things we’ve each experienced thus far.

I think the ability to not make the same mistakes over starts with an admission & recognition of what it is that scares us into making them. I think the ‘mistake’ part is really just a masque for the fears we have, making us see these repeat actions, that familiar pain, as the better or only way.

“Examining the depths of our own brokenness requires vulnerability & risk, both of which are essential for growth.” -Shawn Achor

If we are too busy discussing the ways everyone else needs to change, we lose the ability to see our own need for restoration and we get stuck rather than grow.

Our work is not in mistake avoidance, it’s in mistake admission.

From that admission comes a choice– a daily one. Moment to moment.

It’s realizing there are actually no mistakes. There are only moments where we miss taking the better path available. The moments where we miss choosing divergence & taking the path up.

Fight or flight…or divergent. It’s about o w n e r s h i p. 

No one controls your mind but you. 


Option 3 happens in what Christine Caine calls, “the exchange zone”. Literally, like the portion of a relay race, when the runners pass off their batons. Each athlete owns their role in their of the race, looking forward the entire time, propelled by the momentum that’s already come from behind them.

Poor pass-offs and dropped batons come in moments of doubt, fear & unreadiness.

Nothing comes from that!

You’re ready. I’m ready. We’re all ready. And the race we’re running is interdependent, not independent as we might like to think.

“Our God is a relational God & we are relational beings.” – Christine Caine

Don’t waste energy hustling for your worthiness. Own your “mistakes”. Own your story & run your own leg of the race.

God has already promised you victory, in Him.

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K.V

5 Comments

Add yours →

  1. Great message!

  2. I like your thoughts & perspective on mistakes! Keep writing:)

  3. This blog is amazing, kait… You’re amazing!

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