It's not okay to make mistakes

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As an Enneagram 1 my unconscious childhood message was, "it’s not okay to make mistakes." As someone who was relatively new to the Enneagram, I had never heard of each number’s adopted “unconscious childhood messages.” About a year ago I was journaling and praying shortly before entering into a retreat, and I asked God, “Why do I feel like it’s not okay to make mistakes?” This concept seems ridiculous to my cognitive brain. I KNOW as an adult, mistakes are necessary to learning and growth. I mentally celebrate risk. I admire those who fail and try again and again until they succeed. And yet my journaling revealed a truth that my actions and heart reflected. It’s not okay to make mistakes. Mistakes make me invalid, unaccepted, unworthy, undesirable and rejected. I sadly realized this was my actual belief. During the retreat, we had an enneagram workshop and the idea of childhood messages was taught. Learning that my Reformer type internalizes “It’s not okay to make mistakes” made me catch my breath. Could it be? Almost the exact phrase I had written just a few days prior rang true in my heart and I realized I was not alone. I was not broken for this false truth I had internalized for decades. This was a part of my innate wiring, and there was help. The hope in the enneagram is that every number/ every person has this wounding unconscious childhood message, and yet with awareness we can counteract that message by knowing what we actually needed to hear. As a type 1, I needed to hear, “You are good.” In the midst of our workshop this message brought tears to my eyes. I felt my heart lift and my shoulders relax with the thought, I am good. I will make mistakes, but I am good. I will fail but I am good. Mistakes do not invalidate me. I am good.

It would be easy to brush this off as “it’s all good.” Or hum the tune, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing will be alright.” And yet both of these are also false statements in our actual world. It sounds nice and it feels good for a while. But the reality is that “We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) and “There is no one righteous not even one.” (Romans 3:10) So the reality is we ALL make mistakes. And it’s okay. It doesn’t surprise God, so it shouldn’t surprise us. But our failure isn’t fatal, because God knew there would be a gap between our aim for perfection and his actual completion of perfection. At the end of creating man and woman God proclaimed his creation very good. (Genesis 1:31) Good not for what they had done but for who there were. And yet Jesus taught that “No one is good—except God alone.” (Mark 10:18) The identity of who we are, is often not reflected in what we do. God’s very good creation will never reach the perfection required, we will never measure up. "But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation." (Colossians 1:22) So the next time I put internal pressure on my ability to perform flawlessly or show up perfectly I will be reminding myself that I was created and proclaimed as good by my creator. All my mistakes don’t invalidate me, but rather are covered by Christ’s holy perfection. That is very good!


Sara CarlsonComment