A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.
(Roy H. Williams)
Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean. Count yourself lucky—God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him. When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans. The pressure never let up; all the juices of my life dried up. Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll come clean about my failures to God.” Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared. (Psalm 32:1-5)
I don't want anyone to feel they are alone in their mistakes - heaven knows I have made more than my fair share and I am not finished living yet! We are supposed to learn from those mistakes, though. How many times have you and I made the same mistake on more than one occasion? The likelihood is that we did not learn from it the first time, or in the subsequent times! It would be nice if we made mistakes once, learned everything there was to learn from them, and then never made them again. That isn't reality - we repeat them, not so much because we didn't learn the first lesson, but because there is often more than one lesson to be learned from the mistake!
If I overspend this month, blowing the budget all to kingdom come, I can get back on track next month. What did I learn from my mistake? It is possible to recover from the over-spending with a little 'thrift' the next month? Don't give into those rogue emotions the next time you feel like a shopping spree? Keep better track of your money so it doesn't get away from you? Yes, all of these are possible lessons, but each one of those are individual lessons, aren't they? Guilt over our mistake doesn't always bring all the lessons to be learned to the surface, does it? Sometimes we repeat the mistake because we didn't see the 'other' lesson in the first mistake!
Have you ever observed someone else make the same mistake you were just about to make and then stopped what you were about to do? Why did you stop? You recognized the mistake before you made it because someone else shared how the mistake affected them. Yes, you were acting wisely by learning from their mistake. Why do I read the reviews posted on the online shopping site? I like to see that others were pleased with the quality of the product I am about to purchase. I want to avoid the mistake of purchasing something that will not work, breaks down quickly, or is just plain junk.
We aren't going to learn from each other if we keep all our mistakes neatly tucked away in some secret compartment. As we confess our mistakes to God, we are also asking him to make our lives an example that others may learn from - so they don't launch headlong into the same mistakes! It is hard enough to admit our mistakes to God, let alone anyone else. There is indeed something to be learned in sharing. It is quite possible that someone who is learning from our mistake may actually help us see more than the one lesson we learned on our own - their perspective gives them a different vantage point to see other lessons we may have never even considered from our vantage point. Just sayin!