I’ll never forget the time I sang the national anthem at a 1991 Atlanta Braves game against the L.A. Dodgers.
You see, I made a stadium-sized mistake!
Before that day, I’d only sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” publicly once before—and that was at the opening of a little league season. Let’s just say that first experience was a whole lot less intimidating than this one was.
I was super nervous, and I rehearsed madly. I even bought what I thought at the time was the perfect outfit—a brown pantsuit. (Keep reading to see a picture from that day of me with Tommy Lasorda.)
The morning of the game, I had to go to the concourse to sing in front of the staff. During that rehearsal, I nailed the song.
Oh, friend, if only the real thing had gone as well. It didn’t.
I stepped out on the field, and a hush fell upon the stadium as the players removed their caps.
“Oh, say can you see…” I started to sing.
My voice filled the stadium, and I could hear it reverberate back to me with every note. But then, as I came to the line “and the rockets’ red glare,” I experienced glottal shock.
Have you ever heard of it?
Glottal shock makes the singer momentarily voiceless—and it caused me to choke on the word “glare.”
In that moment, time stood still. I wanted to evaporate or hide in my big, brown pantsuit as I imagined the 47,000 faces of the baseball fans in the stadium contorting into confused and shocked expressions.
Somehow I was able to recover and belt out “and the home of the brave!” The stadium erupted in applause, and I nearly melted in sweet relief.
But, afterward, all I could think about was the glottal shock. Even though I’d sung 81 of the 82 words in our national anthem well, that one broken word replayed over and over in my mind. I was humiliated and haunted by my mistake.
Maybe you can relate. Your mistake may not be the result of glottal shock, but like my mistake, it too overshadows all of your positive qualities and successes. It might be a parenting mistake, or maybe your marriage ended in divorce. Perhaps it’s a mistake you made at work and it cost you your reputation and the trust of others.
Today, on the 4:13 Podcast, KC and I are talking about how your mistakes do not define you. We give you two healthy and practical ways to manage your mistakes no matter what the size.
2 Healthy Ways to Manage Your Mistakes
- Let truth define you. Our successes are often what we use to define who we are. As long as we do well, it’s all good. But then the stadium-size mistake happens, and we’ve trained ourselves to be defined by what we do.
But just because we’ve failed at something doesn’t mean we’re failures. We’re also not our successes. We are not what we do—no matter how well or how badly we may do it.
This is why we need to recalibrate and redefine success. It is the truth of who God says we are that should ultimately define us. God’s truth doesn’t change, which makes it a reliable standard to use to identify and define who we are.
And God’s truth says your true identity is a child of God. When you grasp that powerful truth, who you are will define you, not what you do.
Identity statements will always begin with I am. I am is not the same as I feel. One way to let truth define you is by finding Scriptures that express your identity and reminding yourself of those truths. For example, “I am God’s workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10) and “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). You can find a longer list of “I Am” statements here in the show notes for Episode 52.
Friend, don’t let your feelings define you. Instead, let who you are define your feelings. When you make a mistake, acknowledge what you’ve done, but affirm who you are!
- Let mistakes refine you. We all need to notice and celebrate the 81 words we sing right. In our office, we have a “Way to Go” wall that the staff writes on. (Keep reading to see a picture of it.) If we catch someone in the office doing something well, we write it on the wall and celebrate it. Some of these successes are big, and some of them are small. The wall is another opportunity for us to say, “Atta, girl!” and “Way to go!”
You need those “way to go” cheers too. Today, determine to catch yourself doing something right and acknowledge it. Let yourself hear those 81 words you got right! Success is good and should be celebrated and reviewed.
But don’t stop there. Let your mistake help you and teach you. While it isn’t healthy to obsess over a mistake, it is healthy to acknowledge our blunders, what we regret, or how we blew it. Use that regret to refine your character. Study the anatomy of your blunder and ask yourself questions like:
- How did it happen?
- How can I prevent it in the future?
- What does this regretful choice reveal about my character?
- Was this mistake something I caused or was it out of my control?
- How can this one poorly sung note refine me?
Your mistakes can be teachers that reveal wisdom to you. Let them refine you.
So, my friend, let God’s truth define you and, if you hit a wrong note, let it refine you. But whatever you do, keep on singing. The world needs what only you can give. You matter. Your mistakes are not nearly as important as your resilience.
Remember what is true about you…
- You are not your mistakes.
- You are not your failure.
- You are not your success.
- You are not what others say about you.
- You are a child of God and your identity is from Him.
So, 4:13ers, go for it. Be the you God created you to be. And remember, whatever you face, however you feel, you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Books and Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies for Young Women: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover Bible Study
Photos Mentioned in This Episode
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What is one “I am” statement that’s especially encouraging to you this week?