Recently I had my yearly evaluation at work. Evaluations are always hard for me. I tend to focus on the “areas that need improvement,” rather than celebrate my strengths. The day of the review I tried really hard to restructure my thinking and focus on the fact that “in my weakness, He is stronger.”
Although this thought stopping technique worked for a bit, I decided to do my own work performance inventory and critique myself. You know, so there’d be no surprises. As I reflected on the past year, half of which was spent in a different role than I currently serve, I obsessed on the mistakes I made. The real frustrating part is that I feel like I gave 100% most days. I mean, long work days, midnight phone calls, death threats, etc. To most people, giving your all should be enough to feel accomplished. However, I became more discouraged because I felt that my all wasn’t good enough.
My thoughts continued to spiral out of control…I suddenly felt defeated and like a failure, and the review had not even begun. Yikes, I started to question why I would even be put in this place. I wept. I seriously had a mini-meltdown. I questioned my ability to lead. I am so young. I am the youngest of all the staff. Some days (a lot of days) I don’t even know how to respond, but somewhere along the line, it became my responsibility. “I don’t understand, why me?” I thought to myself. “I’m not seasoned enough for all this.”
I struggle with my mind on a regular basis, maybe we all do. I can remember having a conversation with my mother-in-law about something unrelated to me. But she mentioned a statement that stuck with me. I can’t remember the dialogue word for word, but she said something like “you learn life by the mistakes you make, that’s how we all figured it out. People shouldn’t be so hard on themselves.”
When I was in graduate school I kept thinking that I was missing something. I graduated confused and completely unsure of how this was all supposed to fit together and what a real career would look like. I thought this was only my problem. I was afraid to tell anyone that I really didn’t know that much more than before I started, for fear of not landing a job, of course.
The review went well, partially because I work with amazing people who are super gracious and could tell me I was the worst human being alive and I’d probably still love them. They are the type of employers that I can be honest about my insecurities. They challenge me and encourage me.
After the review I went back to my office and had a few voicemails. One of my first career lessons was that it’s important to call people back, or they get really upset. I had a voicemail from a lady in the community who wanted to volunteer. We chatted and she told me she had recently seen me during a local t.v. interview. I was floored when she asked me if I were from the south…I thought my accent had gotten a little less distinct. I replied “why yes, how did you know.” She said, “I met you 2½ years ago, when you first moved here.” We discussed our first interaction and she began to share her heart with me. I was humbled and moved by her words. She continued to describe how timid I was when I arrived in Oregon. I was so intimidated and she said “and now you are head of the Women’s Center, you are so young, and God is doing huge works.” She was so excited because she felt that if God could use this timid girl from Alabama, He was big enough to do anything. Her words pierced the lies and I was so convicted. My “thorn” was her joy.
God uses my age, my mistakes, my lack of knowledge and “seasoning”, and my timidity to show His power.
I still get anxious and nervous often at work. But I remind myself of this phone call. This is really what it means when Paul says, “In my weakness, He is stronger.” So now, when I can remember, I find joy in my screw-ups.