Grace with effects

I’ll just say it straight. I forgot to take a shift at work yesterday.

It doesn’t sound that bad when I say I forgot, but let me put it this way. I swapped shifts with someone (so important for me, and so kind of this co-worker to swap) and told my manager I’d just come in early and pull a double with the shift I was already scheduled for. 11:00 was the appointed time for the shift covering.

As I was driving to work at 1:50 for my 2:00 shift, I realized with horror that I should have been doing that four hours beforehand.

I walked into work with my horror.

“What’s wrong?” My friend, Tracy, the shift lead asked, obviously with some idea of what was wrong.

“I was supposed to be here at 11:00,” I said, my eyes still like the deer-in-the-headlights.

“Yep,” she said.

In my head, I was saying, “You aren’t very responsible. You are letting people down. You’ve got to get yourself together. What do you have going on that you can forget stuff like this? There’s no big crisis here. You should remember things.”

And Tracy just said, “Well, we’ll make up for lost time. I had Chrissy here, so we’ve been working on shipment. I thought about texting you, but I wasn’t sure if we’d cut the shift.”

It took me a good half hour to adjust my self-talk.

“You’ve never done this before. Well, other than that time Lisa wanted you to babysit so she could go see Jane Eyre at the Guthrie and you forgot but didn’t make other plans, so it worked out. You really are dependable. You just made a mistake. You’ll be more vigilant about scheduling from now on. You can just work extra hard to make the shift productive. You’ll have to own up to it though.”

I put off texting my manager for a couple hours, mostly because I was trying to stay on task and partly because I hate having to apologize for something for which I have no excuses.

I was just at home, planning and editing and doing laundry. There were no medical emergencies or illnesses. Just a memory lapse.

Everyone was so gracious about it. Tracy gave me a long list of things to get done, but she didn’t guilt me or make me feel like I’d failed miserably. She even tried to take partial responsibility.

When I finally texted my boss, saying how it would never happen again and I was so sorry but working hard to make up for lost time, she just responded, “That’s ok! Have a great night, thank you!”

She called a little later to make sure I knew that the closing associate was switching with someone else and to see that someone else had come in to sign her timecards.

“I’m so sorry about that. I don’t know how I forgot to come in.”

“That’s okay! It actually worked out better.”

Really, it would be great if I just came in when I was supposed to.

It was one of those days where I felt God using the people in my life to remind me what grace is. Grace doesn’t say that I haven’t done anything wrong, and I still know I have. Grace says that we can get past it. Grace tells me my mistake doesn’t define me, and it tells me to get back on the horse–or back behind the cashwrap.

God isn’t afraid to show me grace. He’s not afraid that I won’t know that what I did wasn’t good. And I’m not talking about skipping shifts here. I’m talking about thoughtless words, ignoring people who could use encouragement, choosing fear over trust, being lazy, being stingy.

God gives grace so that I can try again, not kicking me for failing but reminding me that I am capable of being obedient and faithful. And his grace to me isn’t without effect. At least, some days.

It’s much harder to receive grace than we think. Not just because we don’t deserve it.  On our “good” days, we find it hard to receive grace because we know we did wrong. On our less good days, it’s hard to receive grace because it pushes us back into action and asks us to humble ourselves and try again.

It’s much easier to back off from what we’ve failed to do or done poorly than to go back to it wholeheartedly.

So I’m planning to make it to all the rest of my shifts this week on time.

And to embrace the moments where I’ve acted less than faithfully as an opportunity to try again.

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