I have a long-time mentor at work. I first met her when she was my boss and I had finally earned a leadership role in the organization. In those years it seemed we were doing a lot of on the job training, and we had a very diverse group of people. We were also writing many proposals for small and large bits of additional work to our contract. Things were moving fast, and we were all expected to know our areas and make quick decisions.
In those days, I was pretty risk averse. I wanted all the data, every last bit, before making a decision. I also felt an incredible sense of responsibility to keep the work coming in for my staff and keep my salary increasing for my family. My boss/mentor used to say to me, “There is very little that you can do today, that I can’t fix tomorrow.” She was right, and the more she said it and backed me up, the better I got at making quick decisions on little information.
When I do a technical briefing, I try to teach the audience what we know, why it’s important, and I try to be a little personable so that everyone stays awake. I briefed the Air Force and our prime contractor one day and thought everything had gone well. Many things were going on, and there weren’t many bosses in the room that day.
The next day I got a call from one of the bosses, “Can you send the sign-in sheet for the meeting? You said something to the customer yesterday that has the customer community upset. I’ve been trying to calm them down all morning, and I want to see the sign-in sheet to know who your adult supervision was.” Of course, I looked at the sheet and felt terrible. I wasn’t in a lot of trouble, my “adult supervision” was. However, I was taught that sometimes it is best to let the bosses answer the question and NOT jump in afterward.
One day I got called into another mentor’s office. She had given me my first real opportunity at work leadership, which I am still grateful for. Apparently, one of our customer leads had called and told her that I had made an off-handed negative comment about our own staff. My mentor brought me in, closed the door, and explained what I had done.
Since I am a woman, I started crying. Yes, I hate that part of my gender – just so many emotions, including self-disappointment, all at once. I apologized and acknowledged that I had become too comfortable with this person and shouldn’t have said it. She never brought it up again, and I am now very careful.
I try hard, but despite my attempts, I make mistakes sometimes. However, through some outstanding mentors and through my mistakes I have learned where my weaknesses are and what makes me vulnerable to mistakes. And I am grateful to those who have had to clean up my mistakes the next day.
If mentors can clean up mistakes and set us on the right path, why do we think God is any different? As we repent and learn the error of our ways, there will be consequences. Some will be easier to fix than others. Some can be cleaned up the next day, and others will take a lifetime on earth. But God does not leave us alone in this clean-up process.
Other times we overemphasize the impact of our decisions as if all roads lead to financial ruin or the zombie apocalypse. (You think I jest, but these were the visions I had when I was faced with large & small decisions at work.) We do the best we can with the information we have been given. Then, we exercise faith that we’ll be able to find our way out of whatever future mess we just walked ourselves into.
This is why we pay our tithing – our insurance that there will be a protection from economic collapse, zombie apocalypse, and money will appear to remove the solar panels when you find out that the roof didn’t have 20 years of life left in it. (That’s a whole ‘nother article for a different day.)
Then, there are those ideas that don’t come from our Heavenly Father and are only meant to destroy. “If I had married the Other Guy 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have been in an argument with my husband tonight. That was the day I messed up my eternity.” How do you know you still would have been married to the Other Guy? How do you know things wouldn’t have been worse? We need to recognize these thoughts for what they are – not constructive. (So, get onto the more productive path of figuring out what you did wrong today, and make it right.)
God has my back
God knows us well, and He knows the end from the beginning. Do we have free will? Yes, of course! Do we experience the result of our choices? Yes! But if I gave my son $10 today, I could tell you within two guesses what he would spend it on (food or Pokemon cards). And I am quite sure that there’s a better and faster statistical probability calculator in Heaven. And when my son realizes he’s wasted his money, Mom and Dad are always there to expound on the life lesson or to help fix it, or both.
My beautiful, crazy, blessed life is not a fluke or random chance. It exists because of and in spite of many decisions and challenges made along the way, by multiple generations of people. And there is no doubt in my mind that I would still be the mother of my particular children, even if those decisions had gone differently.
I think we need to give ourselves a break. I think there is more than one way to cut through this grassy field we call life, as long as we are still holding on to the iron rod that leads back to Jesus Christ.
And just because we let go for a short time (relative to eternity) or walk ourselves right into some noxious weeds without looking — doesn’t mean that the rest of the walk on the straight and narrow won’t be beautiful. Please, have faith and not despair. There is a very low probability that your decision today will bring about the zombie apocalypse of tomorrow.
Molly A. Kerr
Molly is on a life long quest to figure herself out. Born to be and educated as an aerospace engineer she is also blessed to be a wife and a mom of two in the present, previously served as a full-time missionary, is consistently called to teach the youth in her ward, is eagerly though slowly doing home improvement as money and time allow, all while gradually learning how to be herself and find peace and balance somewhere in between. Despite her attempts to make “the right” decisions in her life, she has learned to deal with some unexpected challenges over the last two decades. Total tornadoes, really. What she has discovered is that her career has taught her a lot about the Gospel and being a better mother, and the Gospel, when applied to challenges at the office, has made her a better professional. She has also learned that it is okay to be herself, and God still loves (and forgives) her for it.