Seeing Our Mistakes from a New Perspective by Steph Beth Nickel

Like most people, if not everyone, I can think of a number of times I’ve wished I could press rewind and have a do-over, especially if my actions or words cost me something: money, reputation, peace of mind.

But that’s not the way life works.

That’s not the way God works.

So, as writers who are Christian, what can we do when we face challenges we would have avoided “if only”?

  • face up to our poor choices
  • don’t try to justify our actions but don’t get bogged down either (A conference speaker I’ve heard several times is known for saying, “We don’t have to camp there.” In other words, we can keep moving forward by God’s grace.)
  • ask the Lord for forgiveness—and others, if appropriate
  • marvel that our actions didn’t take God by surprise or cause Him to love us any less
  • thank Him that He still has plans and purposes for our life
  • dig into God’s Word and ask Him for the ability to put into practice the wisdom we find in its pages (I have often quoted Philippians 4:4-7, which says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” [ESV] and Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” [ESV]. I have had many opportunities to put these commands into practice, more than I’d like to admit.)
  • prayerfully come to the place where we’re willing to admit our mistakes publicly, if doing so won’t hurt someone else (Humility is a very important character quality and if you’re like me, you’ll have ample opportunity to learn what this looks like.)
  • take a deep breath and prepare for the next step
  • make a list of topics for future writing projects
  • brainstorm angles from which to write about one or more of these topics
  • decide what format we would like our work to appear in: a blog post, an article, a book
  • chose a style of writing: poem or prose, fiction or nonfiction, devotional or short story (As writers, the possibilities are—forgive the cliché—almost endless.)
  • get busy writing
  • polish as we would any other piece of writing
  • take another deep breath and send our work out into the world
  • refer back to the list of ideas we developed
  • if we’re so inclined, start writing the next piece
  • thank God that even our plunders can be used by Him to bless others—and us

Have your faux pas inspired your writing? If so, in what way?

Profile Pic (small)Steph Beth Nickel is the coauthor of Paralympian Deborah L. Willows’ memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances, published by Castle Quay Books. Among other things, Steph is a freelance writer and editor. You can connect with her at … on her Facebook author page … or on Twitter (Image by Sarah Grace Photography)

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  1. Bobbi Junior says:

    Sounds like making a mistake is an excellent escape route from Writer’s Block! Ha ha! You’re right, though, Steph. I would add that writing about what happened is an excellent way to process the mistake as well, gain understanding, pull it into proportion, forgive ourselves, and learn. Mistakes are good that way!

  2. Pam Mytroen says:

    Very good and practical advice. It’s too easy to get stuck in regret. Thank you Steph!

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