Sometimes mistakes help us come out clean


Think about this: sometimes our mistakes can turn out to be blessings. As a child, I loved Ivory soap. I was so amazed that it floated in the water when I took a bath. Then I would see the commercial on television — “Ivory Soap: the soap that floats!”

The Ivory soap commercial was a 1950s classic. It showed an old-time four-legged bathtub with two little children taking a bath with Ivory soap. The mother said, “I buy Ivory because I always know where the soap is … it’s never lost … it floats!” I thought that was just wonderful and remember telling mother I thought it was magic. So when we shopped at Ball’s Market in Kansas City, we settled for nothing less than Ivory soap. I wonder today how many millions of other families bought Ivory during the 1950s.

Then I found a wonderful story that told the truth about Ivory or the soap that floats. Long ago Ivory was just another name brand soap. The Ivory we know today came about because of a mistake that a factory foreman made when he left a batch of new soap unattended in one of the cooking vats. He left for lunch thinking he would be back in plenty of time. When he got back and looked at the vat’s timer, to his dismay he found that the soap had overcooked. Frustrated, the foreman was afraid he would get fired if he reported the mishap. So he decided to do the best he could with the overcooked soap and had the new batch of soap shipped out to waiting retailers.

No one noticed anything different except the reports from consumers came back to the company that the new soap cleaned just as good, was much lighter and floated. Instead of complaints, the company was flooded with orders for this floating soap. The consequences of this foreman’s mistake were far from what he had expected — he even got a promotion. His new position was to help the company chemists amend the old concoction for soap to the foreman’s recipe for “the soap that floats.”

God works with his children in that way. I have many times not done the wise and right thing the first time. I can look back and see that through even through my mistakes, God was working things out in my life. What seemed bad for me was not bad. God allowed me to go through those things and in that process matured me so I would grow to lean on Him more and more for strength to live. Now Paul’s words mean even more to me: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28.)

That’s the hope for all of us: though only human, God is ready to transform our mistakes into blessings if we will just trust him.

Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at:

[email protected]


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