I was five or six years old and I had just come home from school and was heading to my room to change into play clothes. On my way upstairs, Mom warned, "Don't touch the flowers on the bathroom wall."
This instruction was clear, even to a six-year-old. What wasn't clear was why not to touch the flowers. Sure, I could have simply obeyed the instruction; the reason why could have been because Mom said so. The flowers, however, were big and beautiful. They were formed from thickly textured oil paint in mauve, pink, red, brown, green, and yellow. And they were just above my line of vision.
Why not touch one? I wanted to find out.
I touched one.
Oh! Don't touch because the paint is not dry and it will come off onto your fingers.
Just grab the hand towel and wipe it off.
Oh! Now there is paint on the towel!
Just toss it down the laundry chute.
.........UH oh, MOM does the laundry.
At this point, I needed to come clean and tell Mom.
In order to grow and progress as individuals, it is essential that we are able and willing to learn. We learn to eat, crawl, walk, read, ride a bicycle, sing a song, write and obey -- all through the process of trial and error, supported by memory.
Our basic needs, instincts and desire for exploration and self preservation provide the impulse for trial. We venture forth to see if our idea will work.
Making a mistake or failing to succeed signals an error, causing the healthy individual to try again, but to do it in a different way in order to achieve success.
This is how a healthy person learns, grows, and matures.
Memory is the part of our brain that helps us learn from our successes and our mistakes. Yet,without the ability to store information that can be retrieved to repeat a task, we are not able to function beyond instinct.
Aside from the compromised brain, whether through birth defect or some kind of illness or injury, there are times when a person will block a memory, thus preventing growth in that area. Children who have been exposed to trauma, for example, will often self-protect by repressing the memory. This is different than merely forgetting; it is the ability to close the memory in a box and store it in an undisclosed --irretrievable -- location. A child who does this will become "stuck" in the emotional state they were in when the trauma was experienced, thus preventing emotional development, the lack of a memory blocking growth.
Sometimes, memory is so painful that the brain does a rewrite, creating a false story or even an entirely different personality.
Other times, the individual wants to avoid the consequences of his action and he will deny that he remembers an error. The memory is overwritten with a lie.
Whatever the cause, the inability or unwillingness to learn from our mistakes has devastating effects on our future.
Remembering well is crucial to living well.
Recognizing and admitting error is the foundation of life.
I was blessed with a mother who understood the limitations of my age. She forgave me. She repaired the flower and washed the towel. I learned the lesson of cause and effect that day and I never forgot.
Not surprisingly,the willingness to admit personal error is also the first step toward a relationship with God.
We are all blessed with a heavenly Father who knows the limitations of our humanity. We sin -- all of us. Sin is error. When we admit our error, He forgives us. His precious Son washes away the stain left by our error and he gives us a new life.
Write A Memory In Six Words
Don't Touch the Flowers
Use a Pencil