Does God like mistakes?

Last night I was sitting at the table helping my older daughter color welcoming cards to be used at the upcoming Feast of Rahmat (Mercy) which she and her baby sister will host next Monday. As she was coloring diligently, trying to stay within the lines (apparently a very important thing for a 4 1/2 year old one, and if you truly reflect on it, important for all of us), she was very concerned that she might make a mistake and cross the lines. I told her not to worry about it, that we all make mistakes but God is forgiving.

And then she asked the question that really made me pause:

“Does God like mistakes?”

I quickly answered:

“God likes it when we learn from our mistakes”.

The start of this talk, in fact, was inspired by our discussion of another mistake that had taken place the previous day — when she had cut, as artistically as she could, the hair of her 2 1/2 year old sister. Her mom (who shared with her that in her own youth she had done exactly the same to her own sister) and our daughter had reflected on whether what she had done was good, and we all praised her for telling the truth. (She clearly enjoys getting praise and confirmation for telling the truth.)

So, does God like it when we make mistakes? Does God like the mistakes we make? Seems to me that just as God loves us, He loves anything that would make us grow. So, as long as we learn from the mistakes, it is OK to make them. The trick is not to get in the habit of repeating them.

Vine grape reaching new heights on the trellisI have been trying to grow a garden of several vegetable plants, some berries, and a few grape vines. My goal is to make the grape vine climb on a trellis so we could enjoy the beautiful autumn evenings under the cool skies, broad leaves and succulent fruits. The way to make this happen is by lovingly but mercilessly trimming all the branches that the vine insist on growing in the wrong directions so that all its energy is spent for growth in the right direction, “the chosen highway“.

Does the vine like it when once a week I trim the newly sprouted leaves? Probably not. Is the vine grateful that it is reaching heights that only a year ago were unthinkable? Probably yes.

Do I like to see the vine grow all these extra sprouts? Yes, of course — these are signs of healthy growth. Do I call these extra sprouts mistakes? Of course, not — probably only the vine, in its lack of understanding, would label them as mistakes, seeing that I constantly prune them.

So, shall we call the mistakes we make “mistakes”? Perhaps we have no choice but to stick to a commonly agreed and accepted vocabulary, but we should never forget that in the eyes of God we all are loved, and so are our mistakes.

God is the greatest gardener and the best parent. The rest of us, whether gardeners-wanna-be or parents-in-permanent-training, should rely on His loving, and indeed forgiving, assistance:

O God! Educate these children. These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow, the roses of Thy garden. Let Thy rain fall upon them; let the Sun of Reality shine upon them with Thy love. Let Thy breeze refresh them in order that they may be trained, grow and develop, and appear in the utmost beauty. Thou art the Giver. Thou art the Compassionate.

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

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