I know that sounds like a weird thing to say: could making mistakes (or sin…a bigger and more heavy word) actually be valuable? I believe it is! I’ve been thinking a lot about the value of making mistakes ever since I wrote about making “decisions in advance” a few weeks ago.

Because I think what I wrote sounded a little like you can just make these decisions and then voila! Things just work out.

And guess what? Sometimes they do! I don’t want anyone to take this post wrong, I do completely believe in that practice of “decisions in advance.” I’m a huge believer that when we take time to think about tough situations before they happen we give ourselves so much more power when faced with peer pressure. Especially as teenagers when our brains are still only partially developed.

But as I was writing that post it felt like I was missing something…

There is Growth in the Messiness

And I LOVED that this reader articulated what I was missing so perfectly in her comment:

I was raised in a Catholic family and I was a bit rebellious in my teen years…There is growth in messiness and pushing the boundaries a bit to see where you actually are going to land. I guess knowing my strong willed mind as a kid and teen, I would have balked at some of this [the “decisions in advance” I described]. I admire that your parents got everyone to “buy in” It to doesn’t sound like anyone went sort of “wild”. Again, not encouraging it but I have 5 siblings and everyone ended up well but definitely some messiness in there (which helped us grow as well).

I loved her reminder that “there is growth in the messiness.”

I agree, I think our sins and our mistakes have the power to make us grow the most, especially when we are in a mode for wanting to change and progress. And even if we make the best-laid “decisions in advance,” we can still make mistakes.

And that’s ok. Because we ALL sin. It is a part of life. THAT is how we grow. That’s why I quote my favorite quote here all the time: “Oh God of second chances, Here I am again!” In our church (and I’m sure most churches) we are encouraged to repent every single day. The sacrament we take each week helps us renew our covenants with God and keep “turning” to Him. Because we NEED renewal. We need the “start-overs.” Because we are human.

And humans make mistakes.

I love this quote from our prophet, President Nelson:

Repentance is “changing.” And through sin and mistakes, we learn to change and transform our broken heart over and over again.

I listened to a podcast with Fiona Givons a little while back and took these notes:

From crucifixion to resurrection. Book of Moses 6:2, “need to taste the bitter in order to prize the good.” (5:11)

Changes the whole definition of sin: it is bitterness. Many of us are born wounded. We carry genetic trauma, the idea that the suffering can work for our good if we reach out to people in their suffering, then that’s when we prize the good.

Sin (or “bitterness” or “woundedness”), has an ability, if we allow it, to pull humanity together.

That’s pretty powerful don’t you think?

Because if you see someone through the lens of “woundedness” rather than the lens of sin, then our whole relationship with each other changes quite dramatically.”

Art by Caitlyn Connolly

Yes, we all make mistakes.

And the very nature of those mistakes, if we look at them with the right lens, helps us find more purpose and growth that we need for progression.

Thank you, dear reader, for reminding me the value of making mistakes.


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  1. As a teacher, I try to teach my class that mistakes are a valuable and important part of learning. I make a big point of celebrating “fantastic mistakes” with them – the sort of mistake in their learning where they have done something with really good thinking behind it that hasn’t quite worked, or where they have made a mistake that is really common and gives a good opportunity to go over a teaching point. We talk a lot about how the science shows that mistakes make your brain grow, and that if they never got anything wrong, they wouldn’t be learning, and I would be doing a bad job as their teacher as I wouldn’t be giving them anything challenging. It doesn’t mean they want to get things wrong, but when they do they know it is part of learning, not a reflection on their value or abilities. I think it’s a solid lesson for all of life.

  2. Embracing the possibility of failure and understanding that it’s a natural part of the learning process can help us overcome that fear and approach life with a greater sense of resilience and courage.

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