I finished reading the Book of Mormon again last week and then promptly started over.
I don’t know if it’s just what I’m going through right now in my own life, but it seemed like there was a lot of talk of errors at the end and beginning of the book. The prophets at the end of the book apologized for any mistakes and acknowledged that if there are any errors in the text, they are theirs alone.
Nephi does the same thing at the beginning of the book, noting that they are weak in writing and that if they had been able to write in Hebrew, then it could have been perfect, but they were using reformed Egyptian and he felt there were consequently going to be flaws in his account.
I feel for these men. As a writer and as a human. I feel for them and the inadequacy and deficiency they surely felt to keep the records accurately for their entire people and to acceptably express the workings and instructions of their God. No pressure.
This week, my sister’s book was published. The first copies are already in people’s hands. I have spent the last seven months helping her with the manuscript and checking it for errors. I have read it dozens of times. She has read it many times as well. We’ve had other people read it. She hired a professional proofreader who read the manuscript and whose job it is to find the errors we didn’t.
And after all that, yesterday I got two notes from people who helpfully told me they had each found a typo. Two separate errors.
The worst part is that I know there will be more. There are over 60,000 words in my sister’s book. If we’re being honest, there is the chance that there will be many, many more. As hard as we tried, we couldn’t find them all. It kind of breaks my heart a little.
It reminds me of when Caleb was auditioning for music school with the Wieniawski Concerto. As he practiced for months, I remember thinking there must be hundreds of thousands of notes in that one piece of music and that also meant there were a hundred thousand ways to mess up and make a mistake. It seemed like an utterly impossible task.
As I sat in sacrament meeting today, I thought about how many possible errors there are available to me in my life. When I think of all the days and all the thoughts and all the interactions and all the moments where I come up short and don’t show up in love the way I want to, it breaks my heart more than a little. I am overwhelmed by my power to get it wrong. Most of the time.
What I want to say is that I know there are errors.
I also want to say that I know there are errors I don’t even know about.
Wo is me.
I have wanted to curl up in a little shame ball and die after finding out about the typos in my sister’s book. And these are the tiniest of errors in comparison with the mess that is my life. It’s enough to make me want to give up completely. But did you notice how Nephi and Mormon and Moroni, just did their work anyway, even in the face of their errors and inadequacy? Yes, they said, it’s far from perfect, but the errors are ours and here is what we have to offer anyway. They gave their gift the best way they knew how.
This is what I’m trying out this week too. Here is what I have: My whole life is a crappy first draft. It’s full of errors and mistakes, confusing plot twists that don’t belong, and far too many adjectives and passive verbs. But it is what I have to give. You’re going to find an error if you look. I’m going to find an error everywhere I look. And yet, I’m here to try and I’m in for all of it anyway.
We are all doing our best. It’s just that there are so many ways to screw it up. 60,000 words in a book; 100,000 notes in a concerto; 39,420,000 minutes in a lifetime. There’s gonna be an error or two. Maybe even more than 39 million.
And even then, I’m telling you, it’s totally going to be okay.
Make no mistake about it.