By Janelle Ross

A hundred years ago, back when I was inching my way out of the nest and learning how to use my fresh wings, I worked in the field of computers. Actually, I went to Bible college, spent a couple of years in Australia, came home and worked a bit, started a General Arts degree with a major in French (merci beaucoup) and switched to a technical degree in computer programming at a now-defunct college.

Then, I worked in the field of computers.

I helped the government keep track of the students attending elementary, junior high, and high school in what was then the Northwest Territories (now the NWT and Nunavut.) I designed spreadsheets to determine how many teachers to hire and, well, other super-thrilling computer applications. Back in the day.

I left the government and started working with a small company, designing programs for clients and teaching classes in everything from Computer Basics to WordPerfect. Does anyone remember WordPerfect? It was a long time ago, you guys.

Teaching classes was fun. I’d have a room full of adults who were enjoying a day or two away from the office, and there was usually a mix of front row serious students and back row let’s-goof-off-cause-I-don’t-really-care-about-this students. We joked and laughed and learned. I was a pretty good teacher and my classes were well-received and well-reviewed.

Except this one time.

A new version of one of the programs I taught had been released and we offered an upgrading class, but I didn’t prepare for it the way I should have. To be honest, the class was a disaster. I couldn’t answer some of the students’ questions, and there were people in the class who were more familiar with the changes than I was. One student reviewed it as “the worst class he’d ever taken” and asked for his money back.

It was irresponsible of me to be unprepared to teach the class, and it was super embarrassing to be caught.

Here’s the thing. I taught dozens of awesome classes, and I taught one horrible one. Guess which class I think about the most? Guess which memory has stayed with me and has had the greatest effect on my self-image?

See, I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a mess. I’m the unorganized, last minute, throw-it-together-and-wing-it person. I’m always telling myself to do better, to get my act together, to be more like whoever seems to be doing it right.

I apologize ahead of time for things I haven’t even forgotten yet. I warn people about my lack of organization skills. I joke about the times I’ve made errors in scheduling things or the times I’ve forgotten to pick up my kids or the times I’ve misplaced things.

But that doesn’t make me a mess.

It’s taken me a few decades, but I’ve learned (am learning) to let the negative experiences go, and to see myself, instead, through the eyes of my loving father. A father who loves me for trying and who laughs when I goof up. A father who doesn’t see me as a mess, but as an adored child doing her best with her messy life. A father who loves nothing more than to see me caring about the people around me and desiring nothing more than to be like him when I grow up.

I am not defined by my messiest moment. Neither are you. We are so much more than the mistakes we’ve made. We are all made differently, with our strengths and our struggles. We all climb high and we all fall low. Most importantly, though, we are all dearly loved.

We are each his favourite.

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