Sometimes I try so hard to be perfect that I miss out on great experiences. I don’t need to be perfect, I just need to be the best I can be at that particular moment and time. We are transformed each time we are not afraid to admit our mistakes and grow from them. We don’t want to keep beating ourselves up over mistakes we made but we don’t want to keep making the same mistakes over and over again which happens if we don’t take the time to learn from our missteps. I ask my children to try to make new mistakes each day – meaning I want them to challenge themselves in ways that might lead to failure, but I hope they will misstep in new ways instead of repeating the same mistake over and over again.
We are spiritual beings with unlimited potential, and when we are willing, we can grow beyond every mistake we make and even grow beyond every success. As we forgive ourselves and our mistakes, our true, inner self shines through and we grow a little more into our true potential. We are children of God, and mistakes can help us grow.
Affirmation: I can grow and learn through all experience.
Story: THE CONFUSING COAT - A folktale from Central Africa, Congo
There once were two childhood friends who promised to remain close and loyal companions for all their lives. When they grew up and married, they built houses facing one another. There was but a small lane between their two farms, and they each loved to work so near to the other. Every morning, the friends would call out a greeting across the lane, and their wives would wave and smile to each other as well. Everyone in the village knew of the strong friendship and believed it to be a blessing for all.
However, there was one man, Akono, who was jealous of the friends, and he decided to trick them. He thought it might be fun to give the friendship a test. One day, Akono stopped by the lane and visited with the two men while they were eating their lunch together in the shade. While they talked, Akono boasted about a new coat he had made. The cloth was a brilliant color, and no other coat in the whole village was so beautiful.
The two friends naturally asked to see the wondrous coat. So, Akono promised to walk down their lane on his way to market in the morning, wearing his new coat. Akono prepared the coat for the test that night. First, he cut one red coat in half and one blue coat in half. Then he sewed one red half and one blue half together, to make a coat that was blue on the left side and red on the right. He walked out of the village in the morning and slipped the coat on just as he approached the lane.
The two friends had been up early, working in the fields, as usual. Akono called out in greeting and walked down the lane between them. The friend on the left saw the beautiful blue coat and waved. The friend on the right saw the beautiful red coat and waved. Later, while eating their lunch in the shade, the friend from the left side of the lane said, “Akono’s blue coat is beautiful, isn’t it?” The friend from the right side of the lane exclaimed, “It was a beautiful red coat! Do you suddenly have a problem with your eyes?” “I know what I saw!” insisted the first friend. “It was bright blue!” “Do you think I am stupid? Are you trying to trick me? The coat was as red as the flowers in the fields, and that’s the truth!” yelled the friend from the left side of the road. They argued all through their lunch and even kept yelling at each other across the lane as they worked throughout the day. Both insisted the other was wrong and would not consider letting go of their anger.
As evening approached, Akono walked back down the lane, returning from the market. He lifted his hand in greeting and smiled at the two angry friends as he passed. The friend on the left side of the lane stopped his work and stared at the bright red coat. The friend on the right side of the lane was astonished to see a beautiful blue coat. They both ran into the lane and watched as the man in the two-color coat walked away toward the village. One friend raised his fist in anger and yelled down the lane, “Akono, you tricked us and destroyed our friendship! You troublemaker!”
As the two friends stood there, their anger turned to shame. Then one of them said, “It’s really not his fault. We were both so sure we were right, we didn’t consider any other possibility.” The other said, “The next time you tell me something, I promise to listen!” “And I promise never to waste another day being angry and stubborn,” said the first friend. He then added, “Are we still friends?” Then they both laughed. They remained friends for life and always considered the day of the two-color coat the day that their friendship grew stronger than their pride.
Lesson adapted from A JOYFUL PATH: Spiritual Curriculum for Young Hearts and Minds, Year 1 of the Inner Wisdom Series