Yesterday I made what I thought was a costly mistake. Our next sermon series is entitled Freedom, and features one of my paintings as the graphic theme. Needless to say I’m pretty excited about being able to contribute to my church family through my art, and I’m wanting everything to go perfect. A big part of our graphics for church center around our weekly bulletin. We make an extra effort to present ourselves well through our design, and I think it pays off.
Anyways, I designed our latest bulletin shell, and sent it off to print a few days ago. Yesterday I was looking at the file and realized that I had sent the wrong copy to the printer. I sent a copy that did not allow space for us to add some vital parts of our bulletin. The bulletin shells were already en route to be delivered, and there was no way we could fix the mistake. We looked at several options, and for a while it appeared that we would have to spend the money on reprinting a whole new set.
I was not happy.
I called our executive minister, and senior minister, and told them about the mistake, and that it may cost us. I was told that printing new shells was not an option, and that we would have to work around the mistake. More importantly, I was reassured that a solution would present itself, and that I shouldn’t stress about it. Not stress? This bulletin had my artwork all over it and it was my fault and… I needed to relax.
Fortunately, everyone around me was being much kinder to me than I was being to myself. After some alterations, we rearranged the bulletin to include everything that we needed. It took up a good chunk of my afternoon, but I was excited when I saw the first copy of the final bulletin come through looking good.
Fast forward a few hours.
I had dropped my truck off at the shop to get some work done on the front end a couple of days ago. Nothing major, just some alignment issues. So when I go to pick up my truck, the guys at the alignment place had lost my keys. For 45 minutes we looked around their place to no avail. My patience was wearing thin. How do you expect to run a shop when you lose people’s keys? I was just about to rip into the guys for their goofy mistake, when I remembered that I had made a goofy mistake that same day.
There is a story that Jesus tells of a man that owed 40,000 years wages to a king. The man goes before the King and is forgiven his debt. He promptly returns home and demands that a man who owes him a few dollars pay him back.
In another passage from the Bible, Jesus is setting an example of how we should pray. At one point He says, “Forgive us as we have been forgiven.”
I made a mistake that was going to cost the church much more than a trip home to get my spare key would. Not only was I forgiven, but I was encouraged that my mistake was not as substantial as I was making it out to be. I thought about that for a second, looked at the mechanics, and just smiled.
“I’m sure it will turn up somewhere.”
I was no longer angry. These guys who were imbeciles one second suddenly became hardworking blue collar guys who were ready to head home after a long day. I imagined how many times a day they dreaded dealing with customers who were upset that their car took longer to fix than expected. I could picture them ‘going to their happy place’ over and over while smiling and nodding as customers tore into them over trivial details. I’m not writing about this in a self-congratulatory kind of way, but to point out something that I’ve missed before:
Forgiveness and mercy create community.
Yesterday could have been a blemish on my short time at my current position. Instead I feel closer to my associates, and have a unique bond because they responded in kind when I was ready to stress out. The guys at the shop will hopefully remember that there was a time when they lost a key and were able to laugh about it later with the customer.
Back to the shop. I decided to smile and and laugh about the missing key. I cracked a joke about maybe borrowing the keys to one of the mercedes they had there. I told the guys that keys should come with a gps system. Less than 30 seconds after the first laugh one of the guys came in holding my key. It had slipped into an envelope on the main desk.
And I wasn’t charged for the alignment.
One love, one heart.