It was one of those days. It started with some small yet challenging events, but the challenges kept coming, more quickly, and the more they came, the more mistakes I made in dealing with them. By evening, it was like a roaring crescendo of mistakes culminating in one really lousy day.
Making so many mistakes all in one day can be very disheartening, especially when they are the same old slip-ups. Like many people, I make the same mistakes over and over and over again, and it’s very frustrating. After having a particularly unsuccessful day, it’s easy to feel discouraged, and to get stuck in an unhelpful frame of mind, thinking that I’m “never going to fix this,” or I’m “always going to make the same mistakes.”
There’s a verse for that.
Proverbs 24:16 has a beneficial nugget of wisdom which encourages me on displeasing days: “For a righteous man can fall seven times and rise…” Yes, it’s saying that even righteous people make mistakes. Not just once, not twice, but seven times! That seems like a lot. But is it really? Probably not.
The mistakes themselves aren’t meaningful. After all, we pretty much all make them, and they’re not so special. It’s what we learn from our mistakes, how we react to them that has significance. The getting back up, resolving to improve, and taking steps to make that improvement.
Encouraging, right? But wait, it gets better!
There’s a Chasidish thought which teaches that it’s the falling, the mistake-making, that makes a person righteous. What does that mean? It means that through the experience and resolution of challenges, a person can become righteous. The verse says that a righteous person falls seven times. The number seven in Judaism represents completion, perfection. Within our mistakes and challenges is a tremendous opportunity for growth, and for connection with our higher selves, and with God.
Now that’s a thought that can make my day!
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