Often times we label something a “mistake” when in fact it may be just a miscalculation or a misfortune. The reason knowing the difference becomes so important is that we should respond to mistakes, miscalculations, and misfortunes differently.

For instance, if you are driving down the highway and get to an intersection where you need to turn right to get to your destination but you turn left instead; you’ve made a mistake. If you continue to drive in the wrong direction you cannot correct your mistake; and the further you go the worse the consequences of your mistake will be. The only way to deal with your mistake is to admit it, turn around, and go back the other way.

By the same token, if you go out to buy an item that you need and you locate a store that sells that item, but after getting there you discover that you do not have sufficient funds in your pocket to purchase that item, you have not made a mistake, you’ve made a miscalculation. This does not mean that you suddenly decide that this item is not for you or the one you really don’t want to buy and that it was a mistake on your part to even consider purchasing it. No! No! You let the cashier know you’ll be back with the right amount of money, or if possible, look for a similar item on sale.

In the same vein, if you were to select a cell phone or laptop computer to help you in your business or profession, but once you started using it you found out it doesn’t perform all the tasks as advertised; that it is not as fast in producing the results you want; or that it requires too many steps in order to acquire the information you need. You did not make a mistake in buying it, nor was it a miscalculation; instead, you’ve suffered a misfortune in that it did not live up to the claims the manufacturer made based on your expectations. In other words, it didn’t do what you were told it was capable of doing.

Therefore, you don’t throw it away and go back and get another one because you made a mistake, you don’t have the funds for that. Nor do you ask if you can get an upgrade to improve its performance, as you would for a miscalculation because you would be putting a burden on it that it might not be able to bear. Rather, you either decide to deal with it and use your skills to get the most out of it as possible, or you take it back and look for another product. The worse thing you can do is to settle for less than what you need and feel miserable the longer you hold on to it.

It’s the same way in life when we have to deal with someone we have chosen to be a friend or companion. If you are not getting along with someone or have difficulties with that individual, first learn whether or not your meeting them and getting to know them and letting them into your life was a mistake, a miscalculation, or a misfortune. Choosing the wrong response can often make the relationship more complicated and end up causing you more hurt and harm than it’s worth.

If you find out that having this person in your life was a mistake, there’s only one way to handle it; turn around and go the other way; politely and kindly distance yourself from them and close the door to their getting back in. If, however, you realize that it was a miscalculation because they do not have the required talent or necessary skills to get the job done; thereby causing you more time and effort to make things work, then devise a plan on how to use their abilities and expertise so they can do a better job than they could if left to cope on their own.

On the other hand, if there’s someone in your life that hasn’t lived up to your expectations and has fallen short of giving you what they promised, and make no effort to be all they can be; don’t walk off and leave them or reject them from your life like a mistake, or try and help them improve their performance like you would with a miscalculation, rather, let them know that they are not in your life because you made a mistake; you chose them on purpose and selected them out of many based on how they impressed you. At the same time, be open about the fact you were aware of some things they did or didn’t do that left you wondering if they could change, yet they are worth holding on to.

But most of all, let them know that your heart is pained because they have it in them to do better; that they could make things work if they just tried; that you have lost your trust in them through misfortune, but they can restore that trust by being what you know they can be. But always keep this squarely in the front of your mind, Jesus said, Do to others what you would want them to do to you. In other words, the misfortune may not be just yours, it may be theirs also. In that case, look in the mirror and tell the person staring back at you, “I’m disappointed that you have not delivered on what you promised, but I know you can do better. So, with God’s help let’s start learning right now by asking the other person what they want most out of you, then do your best to provide it.” – Dr. Robert R Seyda

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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