I read an article the other day where a man got out of prison for robbing someone and he said “I made a mistake” and I “paid for my mistake.” It immediately made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. He did NOT make a “mistake” he made a “bad choice” and he did “pay” society by spending time in prison for his choice, but it wasn’t a “mistake.”
A mistake is when you add incorrectly on your bank statement and you over draw your account. A bad choice is when you know the account is closed but you write a check anyway, knowing it is bad.
Society doesn’t seem to “get it” that when someone makes a deliberate choice to do something that is wrong that it is not “just a mistake.” Some how “making a mistake” by robbing a bank seems less bad than making a “choice” to rob a bank.
The Bible says that a man who steals because he is hungry is not to be held to the same standard that the man who robs because he is greedy, but if the hungry man is caught, he still must bear the consequences of his act, but they are not the same consequences as the greedy thief.
We have all made mistakes, and we have all made poor choices. Sometimes we have chosen to deliberately do what we knew was wrong. If you ask in a crowded room who had done things they knew were wrong, I would have to wave my hand wildly, because I have violated my conscience on multiple occasions. I have broken more than one of the Ten Commandments.
Some of the choices I have made though were unwise choices, but at the time I didn’t know they were unwise. I still get the consequences pf those choices though.
Some of the choices were based on false beliefs, such as “there is good in everyone” or “anyone can be redeemed by God and cease being a criminal.” These were precepts I had been taught and swallowed really without examining the truth of these thoughts. These false beliefs led me to maintain a malignant (false) hope that my psychopathic son Patrick was telling me the truth, and that he wanted to get out of prison and come home and go to college and live a law abiding life here with my family.
I wish there was a magic wand that would tell us what we are thinking or doing is wrong, but unfortunately there isn’t such a thing. What we can do in light of this fact, is to consider our thinking and beliefs and examine the evidence and see if the two are in sync.
If someone is SAYING “I’m sorry” and they are ACTING like they are not, then maybe the evidence is that, regardless of what they say, they are not sorry for what they have done, maybe just sorry they got caught. If people CHOOSE to offend, and again and again, that is not a mistake, but a series of choices indicating that the person believes what they are doing is okay, at least for them, if not for everyone else.
Joyce Alexander, RNP