What To Do When You Mess Up: 3 Steps to Take

It’s right before my eyes slam shut at night. My mind swims with possibilities of things I could have done differently. Things I should have done differently.

If he’s awake, my husband gets an ear full of my woes. He can’t fix me, so I feel like I’m stuck in a cycle of beating myself up.

Do you ever beat yourself up for minor mistakes or major ones that have long passed?

Whether you’ve messed up big or small, letting yourself stay stuck in a cycle doesn’t help you avoid failure in the future. Trust me, I’ve tried.

One time when I cooked for others, the reaction was not as positive as I expected. My mind raced to conclusions. I felt like a failure.

1-Acknowledge

The first thing we can do when we mess up is acknowledge what is true. This includes the facts of the situation: I made a mediocre meal that was eaten. This also includes what the bible says about the situation. 

Prayerfully, seek out bible verses for the specific situation. We may have to dig for the topic or context, but the Bible will speak into what your mess up may be. 

1 Peter 4:9 says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” I wasn’t grumbling that I had to show hospitality. I was grumbling how showing hospitality turned out. Not perfect.

2-Action

After acknowledging truth, take action where necessary. In my mediocre meal mess up, no immediate needed to be taken. In the future, I can always invite them back over and try again! If my actions affected someone directly, I would have asked myself:

-Do I need to apologize, make amends, or reparations of some kind?

-Did I fail in a way that simply inconvenienced a person or seriously disappointed them?

Sometimes we may simply forget to do a favor. When we remember it may be too late, but we can always apologize and “make up” for messing up. 

3-Ask

After taking action, process where on the spectrum this mess up falls. We need to ask ourselves these questions:

-Does it fall as a common human error?

-Or is it a major mess up that needs preventative steps in place to not mess up in that way again?

-Do I need to seek out accountability?

Making a mediocre meal can be counted as a mild human error, but now I know for next time to practice and put more thought into the prep of serving a meal to others.

Looking back, throwing myself on the floor and falling apart over this small of a thing, afterwards, was quite unnecessary. 

Processing in truth and with prayer, prevents the idea that we had to be perfect. Because we are human, we will mess up. But we don’t have to stay stuck.

What about when we mess up and it isn’t as if we intentionally sinned? 

John Piper says, “There isn’t such thing as sinless failure.” Oof. 

But the gospel covers ALL failures. 

Piper says to be safe we should always assume we sinned in some way. Even our most innocent mess ups have the effects of sin sprinkled in it. 

But there is a kind of faultless failure of things that are because of the fallen world we live in and the enemy’s attempts from the spiritual world. Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

“So to keep me from surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited…” 

Paul sees purpose in his humanity, failure, shortcomings. He can even brag about it. Because Christ is sufficient, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness…”

Jesus doesn’t want to devastate us with weakness and failure, but to rely on Him. Failures do more work in our hearts than successes. 

Our weaknesses actually point to where Christ is strong. If we had it all together, when would we turn to Him for our refuge? (Psalm 46:1)

We are free from the cycle of self-shaming. What we do with our mess ups reveal where our heart is. When we sin, we serve ourselves. When we fail, what are we going to do about it?

A way Christ is glorified in our weakness is when we share our struggle, our failure, our short comings with others that point to Christ as our redeemer. 

Jesus died a scornful death to cover our mess ups big and small. He knows we will mess up. He calls us to Him when we do.

With love,

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