Idina Menzel is a talented and accomplished Broadway actress, who is best known for her role as Elsa in the Disney film Frozen. A few years ago she was invited to sing the signature song from that film, ’Let it go’ at the New Year celebrations in Times Square, New York City.
Singing live in a cold outdoor venue is always a challenge (or so I have been told, it’s not something I have a lot of experience of!) The crowd in the square loved her performance, but the people watching on TV at home noticed a problem. She missed some of the notes. The final note of the song in particular was off, which was noticeable to anyone watching at home.
Of course, in our internet age, people were quick to point out her mistake and comment on it. I think anyone who is willing to sing live in that kind of context deserves a medal, and I don’t imagine many, if any, of the internet commentators could have done any better. Nevertheless, the performance was out there and immortalised on the internet for all to see.
If that was me, I would have been paralysed as a result and lacking confidence to sing again. But thankfully Idina Menzel is a consummate professional. In an interview, before the New Year’s performance, she revealed her approach to her work:
“There are about three million notes in a two-and-a-half-hour musical; being a perfectionist, it took me a long time to realize that if I’m hitting 75 percent of them, I’m succeeding.”
Mistakes can paralyse us; perfectionism can stop us from succeeding in what God has called us to do, or ensure that we never even start in the first place.
Mistakes can be learnt from, but then they need to be left behind. Dwelling on the things we have got wrong is crippling, whether you are a performer like Menzel, or simply someone who is trying to live for Jesus.
Wonderfully, as Christians, we do not need to dwell on our past mistakes. All the things we have done wrong and have got wrong have been covered by Jesus’ death and resurrection. To His people, God issues this call:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18,19)
We do not need to dwell on the past or be trapped by it. God is doing a new thing in our lives and invites us to step into that new work by His Spirit. He invites us to start afresh – not just once, but every day.
If you are someone who dwells on your mistakes, someone whose past dictates how you act today, someone who feels unable to be useful for God because of things that have gone wrong before, hear this promise from our faithful Father. Forget what is past and see what new thing God is doing in your life today.