Anne Shirley, heroine of the book Anne of Green Gables, taught me a thing or two about love. Having grown to the age of twelve in an orphanage, she finds herself relocated to Prince Edward Island, to the home of an aging brother and sister hoping to keep their small farm running with the help of a strong, young lad. Instead they discover Anne eagerly waiting for them at the train station. What appeared to be a huge mistake became the blessing of three lifetimes.

Anne goes on to make many mistakes of her own over the years, some almost as large as the one that brought her to her new home. But she never gave up on herself or her life, believing firmly that each day offered a clean slate with no mistakes in it. She learned, and taught readers of her story, that hindsight revealed just how much texture and growth gave to her life, overriding whatever she had told herself she had lost.

I want to go one step further and say that mistakes are the permission we give ourselves to love who we are created to be. Whenever we make a mistake we get a glimpse of ourselves that otherwise remains hidden, buried inside us, somewhat safe and sound. Inside all that rubble we call our thoughts and feelings, however, we carry bits of truth. Mistakes are like internal earthquakes, shaking up the rubble, rearranging it so we can see the treasure underneath, harnessing it to fuel our dreams and live the life we were born to live.

All that effort takes some serious courage. Once the mistake is done often our first instinct is to cover it up before someone else finds us out, even if there is no one around to witness our shame. If that is not possible we go to blame with a quick dart to guilt. It’s a shorter train ride than Anne experienced, but equally daunting for not being able to see what comes next, no matter how many times we’ve traveled the same route. Getting off the train requires that we know there is another train to board, a different choice available for us to make, then making a decision to act on that choice.

We can make a choice to love ourselves.

Back in that rubble the mistake stirred up inside us the treasure is right there, ready to be sorted through, lifted up and valued. I personally have discovered kindness for myself here that I have then been able to share with others. Joy in finally seeing the truth of the matter that I had used to hide in the first place. Hope to rebuild a solid foundation for the future that caught the light just in time for me to see it and shine it forward. What is inside us is always working for us if we allow it to. I am a person of faith, and so I do believe that this is God in Action in me, always for me.

I also know, deeply, that giving these riches to others in being who I am created to be cannot happen if I don’t first honor and claim them for myself. Using the excuses of conceit, pride or selfishness to limit one’s worthiness as a creation of the Divine makes no sense to me. Is God conceited for creating a beautiful planet to share with us as our home? Is God going too far by making multiple oceans and continents? Should God have kept it simple, stuck to one type of tree? Did God make a mistake in creating each of us uniquely qualified to be ourselves? I don’t believe so. I believe Creative Abundance continues and always will. And, as I heard a rabbi say in a television interview, “God loves to work through people.”

One of my mentors, David Neagle gave me a new tool in understanding loving, purposeful creation as God’s creation. He said in a webinar today that we are not out of alignment with God because that is impossible; we are always in God, therefore in alignment with God. But we can be out of alignment with ourselves, with the inner knowing that guides us. My belief is that what we may call a mistake, a misstep, is really the gentle lovingkindness of God drawing us to pay attention to our own worthiness, the treasure within ourselves. If it takes a little internal shake up to make that happen, so be it.

Valentine’s Day is also a gentle reminder to love ourselves, to savor the gifts within that transform our lives and those around us. Loving ourselves matters more than we realize. Mistakes teach us to love ourselves even more.

Author's Bio: 

Cory L. Kemp, a native of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, brings a background in communications, women’s studies and pastoral ministry to her work as a communication coach. Putting into practice the journaling skills she created and teaches, Cory founded Communication Leadership, helping ministers, spiritual directors, healers and coaches collect their thoughts, organize and savor their everyday lives. Cory’s unique skill-based Conversation: Journaling program gives you practical tools and simple structures applicable for many aspects of your personal and professional life. Over thirty-five years of journaling experience gives Cory an informed perspective on life challenges and how to transform them into triumphs.