Ladylikeness 6: make no mistake about it
"Ladies learn from their mistakes. Then let them go."
Mistakes? What mistakes?
Recently, my Sunday School class turned into a confessional. I never know how you can start a lesson talking about "mercy" and end the lesson hearing stories of petty theft and regret. But that's 9-year-old girls for you. They're all energy, all heart, all honesty, and all ready to be seen, be understood, be accepted, and be loved.
The truth is, we never grow out of that. Whether 9 or 99, we are still those little girls underneath. We still yearn from the depths of our vulnerability to be seen, be understood, be accepted, and be loved.
What my girl's were discovering that day, even if they don't realize it yet, was the cathartic exercise of confession and repentance. As hard as it is, there's nothing as freeing as admitting your mistakes.
And then letting them go.
This is a lesson hard learned by ladies. They are wise enough to accept they will never live guilt free. Mistakes will happen. It isn't the fact ladies are void of mistakes that makes them so admirable. It's how they handle the mistakes when they are made.
How To Put This Truth Into Action
When it comes to making mistakes, most of us will fall into one of two extremes:
"I never make mistakes."
"I can't forgive myself for my mistakes."
Both are wrong responses. Both weigh us down with either pride or defeatism. To be truly free, the most courageous ladies among us do this:
This isn't where we determine how much was our fault and how much was someone else's fault, then rationalize our part. This is where we accept we made a mistake.
If we did the first step right, the second comes easier. Don't pass off your wrong as "not that big of a deal." Own the mistake. Accept the remorse. Not feeling guilty means we haven't yet fully acknowledged our mistake.
Ask God and anyone we've wronged for forgiveness.
Say the actual words, "I'm sorry," out loud. For me, this step is when I feel a physical weight lifting, as if a valve under great pressure has been released. It's the most cathartic step in this process. Freedom isn't possible without it.
Learn to never do this again.
A mistake on repeat is an indicator of a bigger underlying issue. Don't ignore this. Don't accept this as "just part of my personality." Expect more from yourself. Whatever the issue, you can overcome. You can stop repeating this. God promises victory over our sin, weaknesses, mistakes, bad habits, personality flaws, and temptations. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Forgive yourself for your own humanity.
Whatever mistake you've made in the past, or even repeatedly made, once you get to this step it's time to let it go. Accept Jesus' free gift of forgiveness. He died for you to have freedom. Take this gift with both hands. Don't let Satan beat you down over and over, year after year, for a wrong God has already forgotten. Give yourself permission to live unburdened by shame.
This is a hard lesson, Ladies, but so crucial to being a woman of real strength, a strength with teeth, a strength that outlasts the feel-good mantras out there selling us on our own virtue. This is how we practice real virtue and live truly free.
I'll be praying for you this week. Please do the same for me.