I fail a little bit every day. Sometimes a lot. Sometimes in front of the most important people.
A couple of summers ago, my kids wanted to try archery. Our gym offered it, but it was a low priority. So low, that no one there knew how to take money for the class.
A girl named Angel worked the front desk. She couldn’t sign us up, but she helped. She searched the computer. She looked up phone numbers. She smiled.
Every time I called the manager, Deb, she would tell me to come on a certain night, and she would help me herself. So I would go in. But no Deb.
This happened three or four times. I started to think that my kids weren’t going to be able to take that class. It stirred my inner Mama Bear.
The next time I talked to Deb, she said she would leave instructions at the desk. Now anyone could sign the kids up for archery.
Ok. Great. Good solution.
I used to wear a certain necklace all the time. A supercool, relevant, Christian necklace, It was stamped metal. It said “Pray.” It had an image of two folded hands.
I had it on that night, which was, by then, the fifth or sixth time I had taken my kids into the gym to sign up for archery.
Angel stood behind the counter. “Hi, Angel. Your manager said we could sign up for archery tonight?!”
Angel looked confused. She shook her head. There were no instructions, and still, no one there knew how to take money for archery.
After weeks of going back and forth and coming to the office with this same old thing, I hit that ugly limit. Yes, I did.
Oh, Mama Bear.
I said plenty. How unprofessional they were. How I would never use that gym for anything again. How I could not believe such and such and blah blah blah. I will say, I was not actually yelling, but I was angry. I was harsh.
I was loud.
I stomped out to the van, kids trailing behind me like ducks. We all got in and buckled our seat belts. And in my mind, I saw Angel’s face.
I turned off the van. “Everybody, out.”
I failed in front of them.
I had to apologize in front of them.
And to them. “I’m so sorry, guys. I just acted so bad. I know it stressed you out. And that lady is the only nice person in there. I have to go tell her I’m sorry.”
Those fails come with the worst feelings. Sadness. Embarrassment. Shame.
I walked back to Angel and said, “Um, excuse me. I’m so sorry. I am out of patience with this thing, but it’s really not your fault. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. Thanks for being so great every time I come in.”
She smiled. Like always. And she said, “Oh, I understand! It’s ok. I would feel the same way.”
I left, and my kids said, “It’s ok, Mom! You said you were sorry. Everyone gets mad sometimes!”
Dear God. I love kids.
A few months later, I got online to research local ministries. I saw a group home for teens aging out of the foster care system.
I clicked on the link, and on the first page, was a picture of Angel.
Her story was under the picture. She had grown up in bad places. She had never known a loving family. But she said her life changed at that home. She loved Jesus. She was thankful for the women there. They had become like a family to her.
The archery thing eventually got resolved, and the kids loved taking the class.
But, I took that artsy “pray” necklace, and I hid it from myself. I may have even given it away. I still don’t know where it is. I said, “Lord, You know I can’t wear this and run around acting like a jerk.”
A few people have given me Christian jewelry since then, and I wear it sometimes. But I take it more seriously now.
And, I’m not religious about it anymore, like it’s my duty to wear a cross.
I don’t know what people are dealing with when I meet them.
I do know that I love this saying. “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”
Dear God. Help us to be kind. Kinder than necessary.
And when we fail. Help us say we’re sorry.
No fear of missing out. No fear of being wrong.
Just love. And kindness. Even more than is necessary.