Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Why “Learn from My Mistakes” May Not Be the Best Advice
By Micky Wolf
I used to believe that one of the most important “gifts” I could give another person would be an insightful package of wisdom that would serve a singular, important purpose—help equip them to avoid the pitfalls, stumbles, and poor choices I’d made along the way.
But, you say, isn’t that a good thing? A loving action on my part? As life would have it, maybe not.
The reality is this—for every potential pitfall or mistake I could offer as evidence that you need to make a different choice that would result in a more favorable outcome, there is another one waiting in the wings.
Because as well-intentioned as I would like to be, or how much we have in common as beings created in the image and likeness of God, we are not the same when it comes to the way we interpret and live life.
Put another way, what may seem a mistake for one person could be a life-changing gift for another.
Case in point.
My beloved and I recently watched the movie Hacksaw Ridge, the true story of a man who chose to volunteer for WWII as a conscientious objector, the first to do so by refusing to carry a weapon. Be forewarned. This is not an easy movie to watch, yet the life and story it portrays is full of hope, love, and courage.
As Doss begins his journey—a skinny, small town kid, untrained, and in ways, innocent to the darker side of human nature—it doesn’t take his commanders and peers long to state what seems obvious to everyone but him. He’s made the biggest and worst mistake of his life. (Story line revealed early in the movie.) The fact he refuses, in no uncertain terms, to accept an honorable mental health discharge provides further evidence to those in both low and high places that he is either plain stupid or crazy, or both.
His take on things is far different. He is fully committed to serving his country and he will do that by saving life rather than taking life. At first his companions taunt and tease him. However, by the time his unit is thrust into the awfulness of one of the most brutal and important battles of the war, these same men are willingly offering their lives to protect his.
A mistake? You would need to ask the 75 men whose bloodied and mutilated bodies he single-handedly dragged from the inferno of death.
Maybe the ‘wiser’ counsel would be—don’t be too quick to label a choice or action a mistake. Either yours or mine.