When we rush from one task to another, from one appointment to the next, scarfing down microwaved breakfast or fast-food dinners, it is distressingly easy to forget the simple truth of the Gospel. We know the story, we’ve read the story, we hear the story at Church every Sunday and some of us have even acted the story in youth group plays we’d rather forget happened and are eternally grateful no one videotaped. But after a lifetime of repetition, even on a story as tragic and momentous as it is, the Gospel becomes stale. Until a microcosm of grace re-teaches us what true Grace really is.
I enjoy my job. I like those I work with, the culture, even the area is pretty good. I may occasionally complain about the commute, but as as it is less than 25 minutes, that’s a complaint hardly worth the breath to speak it. I’ve been working here for just over a year, but specifically in the accounting department for about 10 months. I’ve no formal education in accounting. My Bachelor’s degree is in Biological Sciences and it sits quite pretty over my computer desk at home. However, I’ve got practical experience. I’ve moved from receptionist to AP in two separate jobs, both on the value of my work ethic. But as always, when shoe-horned into a new position, you learn bad habits. Or less “generally-accepted” habits, at least. The point being, I’ve made mistakes at work. Most of them minor, within the realm of constantly learning, and all of them fixable. My boss (I have 4 of those, by the way, but they all supervise different aspects of my job, so this isn’t an Office-Space sort of situation – when I mess up a report, only one person gets to scold me!). I always own up to my mistakes, though. That’s what I was taught. Trying to blame everyone but yourself for your mistakes accomplishes nothing, and true honesty actually earns good will, even with bad news.
Then I made a mistake last week. A large error. A VERY large error. It had repercussions. Remember: I work in accounting. No one likes it when a book-keeper makes a VERY large error. But I told my boss. I asked her what to do, how to best handle the situation. We made plans to discuss what it meant for my work efforts the next week when we had more time, because, lets face it: someone who is correctly trained for their position does not make a VERY large error.
Then I made another mistake the next day. A large error. A VERY large error. Also had repercussions. My boss caught it first. And it was entirely my fault. And up until that day, I could not articulate the last time I felt as though the floor had dropped out from under me. (Excluding the last time I rode the Tower of Terror). But the moment full realization dawned on the truth of the situation, I felt it all: heart-crushing horror, disappointment and despair. I’m not supposed to make these kinds of mistakes. Especially not twice. I’m supposed to be on top of things like this. This should have been fixed months ago. They’ve put my trust in me and my abilities and now I’ve betrayed it up so badly they can’t possibly overlook this. They can’t trust what I’m doing, because I can’t trust it myself. It’s the last straw. This is a fireable offense. (And I’m not exaggerating, it really was). I felt sick. I skipped lunch. My stomach was twisted in knots. I wept in the stairwell, distraught with how I had let everyone down.
I decided it was best to resign. This is a good company, one of the best I’ve ever been with. But they needed someone they could trust in that seat. Someone who wouldn’t keep making mistakes. And I was scared. Not because I would be unemployed. I honestly thought it would give me time to do that last bit of self-searching before I settled down to make a living. No, I was scared because I needed to tell my boss and the owner the depths of my error and witness their disappointment. I wasn’t going to hide. But I dreaded the moment where my failure would be made known.
I spoke with my immediate boss first. And this woman is blessed many times over, and I pray she is continually blessed. She’s been my advocate since the beginning. We talked about how it happened. Why it happened. Do I enjoy what I do? Do I feel authorized, empowered to do my job? I acknowledged there were points where I could improve my own ethic. I procrastinated a fair bit. I tended to play around on social media a bit too much. But we could move forward. Make plans, goals to improve. She talked me into wanting to stay – which made it worse – because what if the owner decided it was better to let me go, anyway?
We talked to the owner. She (bless her again) did the talking, because I was seconds from bursting into tears every time I opened my mouth. She offered my resignation, and his response?
I about starting crying again right there. In the bosses office. 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, which we all know is the perfect time to fire someone. He spoke of “heart” mistakes, and “head” mistakes. A heart mistake comes from poor attitude and legitimate ill-will. A head mistake is a lack of knowledge, a slip-up, an un-intended error (however big it may be). This man, who had built and grown his business to be one of the premiere in the field, chose to keep me in my job and give me a second chance. He showed me grace. And once I’d gotten home, I realized just how much this was a reflection of true Grace. I have sinned a lifetime over, and will never live in righteousness. I fail at God’s greatest commandment, and all the others ones, too. Yet God chose to show me grace. He wiped clean my past and encourages me for the future. And he doesn’t hold back his blessings. He calls me daughter, a greater, more intimate and more loving relationship than could ever happen at a workplace.
And you know the best thing? We have a board at work where you can write an anonymous note about something another co-worker has done for which you’re appreciative. Compliments, thanks, whatever. I found one with my name on it the other day – and I recognize the handwriting.
Grace is a wondrous, lovely, lovely thing. And I will never look at the gospel with ingrown apathy again. I only wish it didn’t take a mirror for me to see the real thing.