Our mistakes do not define us

Pancakes may very well be the first thing I learned how to make.

Growing up, my family many times made breakfast for supper on Sunday nights, and as a child, I remember assisting my mother at the stove making pancakes. She always made fun shapes with the pancake batter, sometimes even spelling each letter of my name.

So, last month, when I invited a friend over for a weekend dinner, I decided to whip up a batch of pancakes to go along with eggs and sausage. Sounds simple, right?

With plenty of prior pancake-making experience, I had little hesitation in my abilities to produce an edible meal. I combined the ingredients?the egg, flour, sugar, and on down the list. I gave the batter a stir and started pouring it into the waiting skillet.

As I went along, I noticed the pancakes seemed to burn easily but blamed it on my hard-to-monitor gas stove. It wasn?t until we sat down to eat that I realized I had made an unpalatable error.

My pancakes were bitter. Not even syrup could mask the unfavorable flavor. I looked at my friend and said, ?These don?t taste very good, do they?? She said, ?No, I was thinking the same thing.? Poor girl, she had already eaten a whole pancake in an effort to be polite.

I felt my embarrassment rising as I dug my recipe back out and took another look. Egg? Check. Flour? Check. Sugar? Check. Baking powder?

Suddenly, I recognized my mistake. Without realizing it, I had grabbed the baking soda out of the cupboard instead of the baking powder. Never before had I experienced the very big difference two similar, white powdery substances could make in the outcome of a recipe.

Now that I knew my error, I decided to give it another shot. Into the trash went my first batch of pancakes, and I set out to whip up another recipe. Soon we were back at the table, enjoying light, delicious pancakes, my faith in my cooking abilities restored.

I expressed my embarrassment over my mistake?after all, who messes up pancakes anyway? But my friend spoke truth to me, something that I already know in my head but have yet to internalize.

Mistakes do not define us. She did not think any less of me because of my pancake slipup. Come to think of it, I would give anyone else grace over such a mistake, but myself? No, I couldn?t forgive myself.

That?s because sometimes I am my own worst critic. I beat myself up for my mistakes and am harder on myself than others are. Many times, what may seem like a huge mistake to me is just a small dot on the radar screen.

The truth is I like to make it appear that I don?t make mistakes (who am I kidding?). I want everything to run smoothly and appear completely under control.

But what I?m learning is hospitality is more important than entertainment. I do not need to have everything flawlessly in place, a spotless kitchen or a tidy desk, to invite people in. Why should I pretend to have it all together, when everyone knows no one can have everything together all the time? In taking off the mask of perfection, honest relationships can be built.

The beauty of it is, people still accept us anyway, mistakes and all.

It took a failed batch of pancakes to teach me that.

Janae Rempel is sports editor at the Free Press. She can be reached at Janae@hills?boro?freepress.com.Fateful plate of pancakes

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