Marvin Repinski: When a person makes mistakes

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, April 21, 2021

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Memory. There was once a somewhat popular song that went, “It only hurts for a little while.” What world does one live in to sing songs like this?

In the Old Testament of the Bible, a story is told of a man named Job. To get the whole of what may be its meaning, one might care to read its 42 chapters. It will take an hour or a bit more for some. This book is a discourse or conversation on the troubles, conflicts, and suffering of one’s life. Its ending is that “all is well.” The conclusion is finding God’s favor. I reference it in this article to be realistic in the lives of many persons. Chapter 3 says of Job, “he opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.” In other verses are lines like, “I have no rest; but trouble comes,” or, “Has not man a hard service upon the earth — I am allotted months of emptiness — my flesh is clothed with worms and dirt; my skin hardens, then breaks afresh. My eyes will never again see well.”

And how is it that we on our human journey can sing, “We Are One in the Spirit. We will walk hand-in-hand — we will guard each one’s dignity.”

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What I write is more than hyperbole or ordinary contrasts; it represents questions, pains, and meditations we harbor. We may wish to dig into our own experiences.

Do we all make mistakes? Like what?

Sometimes I go to a dictionary to assure myself that I’m on the proper wavelength. Do the ideas bouncing around in my head resonate with ordinary experience? To take wrongly in many ways: perception, understanding, interpretation in a misleading manner or incorrect judgment are some of the ways we are mistaken. To summarize, an error, attributing a faulty motive, poor information or being confused in directions, speech or actions that may bring conflict may also be a large part of being mistaken. We may all, at times, be in one of “these boots.” I add to this reflection, what a lady said to me: “A person may be having a bad day!” As a pastor of churches throughout the state for over 50 years, the lens through which I view my reflection is influenced by what is termed negligence or accident.

Reflecting on the possibility of negligence

Bringing up this behavior with the idea of an accident by a police officer, Kimberly Potter, of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, is to be considered. The results of her action and the shooting death of Daunte Wright. Under my umbrella of consideration of mistakes, one cannot, given the awful result of death by a bullet, leave the court of law without the necessity of a penalty.

Look with me, one with a religious conscience, and yourself, seeking both justice and an ample response of compassion.  We share pain in an unnecessary situation that leaves all involved and a community in deep sorrow. Where does a citizen turn? How is a person to deal with their own feelings; possibly revenge, blame, or assume a law enforcement officer who has been in good standing for 26 years has, until this incident, made honorable contributions.

Lady Bird Johnson — who knew well the rough bark of a talented president, wrote, “It’s odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problems, that you don’t quite fully share the hell of someone close to you.”

We are at a seeming crossroads in our country with a madness of violence that has entered our lives. Let us be at peace and consult with our better angels how to respond.

What are some directives to a hurting life?

My answers are both thin and partial, but I’ve attempted to help resolve a few mistakes.

Pope Francis is viewed with honorable acclaim by Catholics and Protestants, like myself, and persons with no public religious affiliation. He has often referred to the church as a field hospital, a source of hope for the suffering and a place of mercy and forgiveness. Living with criticism and labeling failures only abandons our own search for well-being. I counsel that a well person (or nearly well) sees the world in a different glow, a possibility rather than the chaotic heart. Guides to personal development will usually advise one, when mistakes are made, that a course of reconciliation or restitution may be in order. Fences can be mended!

A Spanish Christian has spoken of her frustration in waiting; waiting for anything. She has written, when forced to wait, “I go to a quote I read online: In Spanish, the verbs ‘to wait’ and  ‘to hope’ are the same: esperar.” Maybe time will heal.

Reminder: Not all mistakes are earthquakes

Healing of mind, body, soul, circumstances, family and more is in the range of possibilities. That is a mindset that, after a few losses in my own life, I still affirm. Years ago, my Bishop sent me to some weeks of counseling. I didn’t blame him; I admit I rattled some members in a church and didn’t, in some eyes, visit enough hospitalized people or persons in nursing homes. Oh well, another day. “Did you learn anything?” “Yes, best to get to counseling sessions on time.” There’s more. Directed to honor expectations, they seem strained, foolish, or unreasonable. Seek information, clarification. It is not for me to say that many oversights, neglectful actions, having a tongue that does not bring forth humane thoughts, and acknowledging sad consequences, is all there is.

A question asked to me once by a classmate: “Are you majoring in the minors and minoring in the majors?” I eventually did okay in a psychology class!

My earthquake reference just brought to mind a verse from the New Testament, Matthew 28:2: “And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.” Have any stones to be rolled away?

We are here for persons who made mistakes

It was a bitter cold morning in Washington, D.C. A man in a green canvas coat was huddled against a fence near the corner of Capitol and E Streets, hands pushed deep into his pockets. A man in a black wool coat came striding down the street, briefcase in one hand, bagel in the other. As he reached the corner, he blithely tossed his half-eaten bagel into a nearby trash can and crossed the street without missing a step. As the bagel sailed through the air, the first man took two quick steps toward the trash can, reached in, pulled out the bagel, and bit into it.

We are hungry. Others are hungry.

A prayer, by Julie Garmon: “Lord, when I start ‘stressing and obsessin’, I need to do what sounds foolish and surrender my troubles before they get too heavy.”