With tears streaming down my face, I sat down on my couch and began to dial the phone number of my new boss.
Six months prior, my first full time church took a chance on 22 year old Katie and decided to bring her on as Director of Middle School Ministries.
As ready (or as not ready) as I was, I skipped in through the doors of the church and welcomed myself into this exciting new ministry. An adventure filled with pudding wars and all nighters at camp. No one was more elated about this job than I was.
But now. How could it be over that fast? I dialed the number.
Through tiny sobs I managed to get it out:
I just want *deep breath* to thank you for *deep breath* this opportunity and *deep breath* for taking a chance *deep breath* on me.
My sweet, kind supervisor, Meg responded:
I broke the vase.
It was not registering. She did not know what vase I was talking about. How could she not know the vase? The one in the Bridal Parlor. Probably the only item to survive the 1984 fire. At least this is the story I made up in my mind. And now it was in approximately 1000 broken floral pieces on the ground.
I explained that I had been foolish enough to turn off all of the lights in the building and allow 60 middle schoolers to run around in a game of Underground Church. I didn’t think to lock the door to the precious parlor. I didn’t think that maybe this was not the best idea for our Sunday night activity in our 160 year old church. I was young. I just didn’t think.
Meg responded in her oh so soothing voice, “Ok, well just shut the parlor door and we will take a look at it in the morning. Get some sleep.”
Get some sleep? I did anything but sleep that night. How could I sleep when I worked so hard to get this job and now I was going to lose it. Over a vase.
The next morning I was sitting outside Meg’s office at 7:15 am (that’s so early for me). I waited until I heard the doors of the Greenhouse open and met her at the entrance to her office. Did she forget? She seemed far too calm.
Not me. I was in a dress, my face all splotchy. But I figured if you’re going to get let go over a broken vase, you should probably be dressed up.
We walked over to the parlor and she took a look at the pieces on the floor.
More tears began to fall down my face and I sniffled quietly.
“We’ll buy another one. I think it’s from Home Goods.”
Ha. Haha. I’m sorry, wut? It’s from…Home Goods? Martha Mae didn’t hand make it during the Civil War? But…I could have sworn…
We walked back to our offices and went on with the rest of our day. I stayed at Isle of Hope for 5 more years and made way bigger mistakes than a broken Home Goods vase.
But I learned about grace in my time there. I learned about courage and failure and everything in between.
Fast forward 8 years and we laugh about that story over lunch in the backyard of our favorite cafe.
If I had only known then what I know now.
We talked about what if we could do it all over again. Without the fear of failure (as our dear friend, Brene Brown calls it).
Without constantly wondering if I would make it another day or week or month. Without the narrative of negativity. Gosh, wouldn’t that be so freeing?
Over the next five years, I began to relax a bit. I worried less and loved more. There were times I didn’t know what I was doing, but I wasn’t as paralyzed by those moments. I had been given permission to fail and knew it would be ok if I did. The only true critic I had to worry about was myself.
While that moment paved the way for a lesson for me, I have not always continued to live in that mindset. There have been times that I have allowed myself to live in fear. I have given in to my biggest critic. I have spent seasons living in that fear of failure.
But knowing what I know now. What a beautiful thing it is to fail. To abandon fear and shame and know that no matter what you do, you’re giving it your all.
My hope is that we all have people in the arena with us, cheering us on, even if we fail. And if we do fail, my hope there that there is grace for each of us in that. No matter how broken the vase is.