We all make mistakes, but mistakes don’t make us; for this to sink in, we need to separate the behavior from the person. For example, if I say “I failed,” it recognizes an error that, when corrected, can lead to future success. But if I say “I’m a failure,” I’m allowing the mistake to define me, which tends to create an image in me as a failure.
There’s a fascinating story in the New Testament about a woman caught in the act of adultery. Nowhere in the story did Jesus forgive the woman, the words forgive or forgiveness is not there, they can’t even be implied from the story. We are told that after her accusers had left, Jesus asked the woman, “Has no man condemned you?” She simply said, “no” then Jesus replied, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” Not one word of forgiveness, why? Because you cannot forgive a person unless you have first condemned them. Jesus never condemned her, so there was nothing for Him to forgive. He recognized her sin or her mistake, but He was able to see before the fact, what you and I see after the fact. That is separating the person from their behavior. And just as Jesus did this for this woman, we need to do this for ourselves, you and I make mistakes, but the mistakes don’t make us!