Fire broke out.
A 67 year old man stood nearby.
He was watching his factory burn to the ground.
His unique prototypes were destroyed.
There was over $23 million’s worth of damage.
His life’s work went up in flames before his very eyes.
And yet he stood there.
The man’s name was Thomas Edison, the famous inventor.
His response to the fire and loss?
“At least all our mistakes have gone, now we can start afresh.”
I came across this story just after saving my work multiple times.
As I always do.
In case it gets lost.
The story certainly gave me a wry chuckle – perhaps I value my mistakes too much.
We all make them.
And we learn from them.
If a toddler didn’t learn not to topple, he would spend much of his adult life falling over.
If a child didn’t learn how to spell ‘friend’, she would likely spend her life spelling it ‘frend.’
If I hadn’t persevered through my many mistakes when learning Sign Language, I’m sure that communication would be much more difficult for me than it is.
Learning from our mistakes is good advice.
And we follow it.
But what about living in the shadows of our mistakes?
How often are we advised to do this?
Probably not often.
Yet how often do we do it?
Probably quite a lot.
I watched the Olympics recently.
Well, as much as my maximum sleep-deprivation tolerance would allow.
The perils of living in the wrong time-zone.
Many times, the commentators remarked on an athlete being under extra pressure because of mistakes made previously.
For example, in the gymnastics.
Someone struggled with their floor routine in the all-round competition, a struggle which was referred to many times during the individual competition.
But the individual competition was a different event.
There was no need to live in shadows of previous struggles.
And yet the gymnast did.
Perhaps, in part, because the people around them kept reminding them of their mistakes.
We live in a culture that loves to point out people’s mistakes.
Just pick up a newspaper or watch the news.
A society that loves to remind others of exactly when and how they messed up.
And sometimes that is helpful.
We don’t go through life addressing people as ‘my frend.’
But. Sometimes. It. Is. Not. Helpful.
We end up living, whether on the Olympic stage or in our everyday, in shadows.
Shadows of our struggles.
Of times we messed up.
Got it wrong.
Should have done it differently.
Shadows of our past.
There’s a verse in the bible:
‘Great is God’s faithfulness, his mercies begin afresh each morning.’
Even God starts afresh with you.
Shouldn’t you do the same?