Mistakes along life's way

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By David Whitlock

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” so the saying goes, and I might add, “It lasts forever when it’s on the Internet.” I have no idea if Rielle Hunter or the eighth grade girl whose boyfriend allegedly sold the nude pictures of herself she sexted (sending sexually explicit messages or photos by mobile phones) him, thought about the implications of what they were doing when they posed, Reille before a professional photographer, the girl before her own cell phone.

If they didn’t then, they have now.

According to Hunter, when she saw the racy photos of herself in GQ magazine, she cried for two hours and found them “repulsive.” Why then did she do it? She claims she went with the flow of the photo shoot and didn’t realize they would publish them. Hmmm. There may be something to her being in the “flow.” After all, she also said it was the “mysterious force” of their “magnetic fields” that brought her and John Edwards, (irresistibly, of course) together.

The eighth grade girl’s boyfriend faces more than unwanted publicity; what he did—selling the pictures for $ 5 a shot---constitutes a violation of child pornography laws. Maybe his girlfriend, like Reille, got caught up in the moment, or was responding to a dare from friends, or was just being plain eighth grade silly---really silly. Whatever she was thinking, I seriously doubt she said to herself, “I’ll send this cool picture of myself naked to my boyfriend so he can sell it to all the other boys for $5, and then the police can come and investigate for child porn, and someday, when the picture is floating out there in cyberspace, one of my own children can look at it and gasp, ‘Mom, you in the eighth grade? This is sooo embarrassing!’”

The fact is, these two incidents remind us of how easy it is to get caught up “in the moment,” disregard consequences, and make poor choices.

We’ve all been there. We didn’t know, did we? We weren’t thinking, were we? We didn’t even realize, did we?  Caught up in the moment, the moment got away from us. We’re like Moses, in the Bible, whose brother, Aaron, when asked why he allowed the people of Israel to create the golden calf idol, shrugged his shoulders and responded, “They took off their jewelry and gave it to me. I threw it in the fire and out came this calf!” Caught up in the moment. The magnetic fields. Into the flow.

So, before we condemn these two and others like them for their not-so-admirable actions, we should remember all of us have made foolish mistakes. It doesn’t have to be a photo shoot for a glamour magazine, or selling nude pictures. It can be a suggestively worded text message (“hey, hot stuff”; “how ‘bout it babe”---Jesse James to tattoo model, Michelle “Bombshell” McGee), or a misplaced love note, or an inviting gaze. When we see it for what it truly is, we too, like Rielle, are disgusted with our narcissism, and like the eighth grade boyfriend, we too have capitalized on the mistakes of others.

And for all of us, there is still the hope of healing.

Roy Hobbs, the lead character in The Natural, said, in regard to his shaded past, “I guess some mistakes you never stop paying for.” And he was probably right. Some mistakes can’t be erased. Like an old athletic injury, they hang around, nagging us from time to time.

But, while some mistakes cannot be forgotten, they can be forgiven. And, God, who can sweep up the mistakes of our past and throw them into eternity, allows us, despite our fallenness, to walk straight up on the path he has for us, the path that is often rocky and seldom smooth, complicated and rarely simple, unpredictable and rarely static, the path that because it is shaped by our own mistakes, is uniquely our path, the true path for us, the one we were meant to walk.

Some mistakes you never quit paying for, but it’s often those mistakes that make us uniquely us.

Life Matters by David B.Whitlock, Ph.D., is published weekly. You can visit David’s Web site @www.davidbwhitlock.com or email him at doctordavid@windstream.net