Years ago, my pastor’s wife started a sewing circle to make a quilt that, when auctioned off, would raise money for our financially struggling church. The emphasis was on stitching with excellence, but a special camaraderie formed around the quilting frame. People spoke freely, laughed with abandon. We grew into a tight-knit group. Once, a woman confessed it was her birthday, and she told her husband she wanted to celebrate her special day by coming to our quilting session.
We auctioned off the first quilt at our annual fall festival. A professional auctioneer donated his services, and the quilt netted several hundred dollars.
The sewing circle made plans for a whole-cloth quilt. Instead of a pieced or appliquéd design, the quilting stitches themselves would be the artistic focus of the quilt. The pastor’s wife carefully penciled the intricate design on the new quilt top, and we started our sessions again. But after a few weeks, our pastor received a call to teach in a seminary in Chad, his lifelong dream. The family made their plans for a quick departure.
Without a leader, the quilting group petered out. Exhausted from work, I stopped attending. In that transitional period between pastors, no one stepped up to take charge of the sewing circle.
A few weeks later, the church treasurer asked if I would take over leading the quilt group, since I had the most quilting experience of all the sewers. I said no, I didn’t want to be in charge, but I would help.
I stopped by the church one Thursday night ready to do some quilting, but the church was locked up and no one was there. I was surprised. I assumed the rest of the women were faithfully stitching away every week.
Because of being busy with other things, I didn’t give the quilt another thought until the next fall festival. To some attendees’ disappointment, there was no quilt to be auctioned.
At the end of the day, I found the treasurer and admitted I’d dropped the ball. I’d made a feeble attempt to help, but not nearly enough to make a difference.
The church board ultimately decided to donate the partially completed quilt to a nearby Mennonite congregation. A few months later, they notified us that they had finished the quilt and sold it. They thanked us for passing it on to them.
This experience haunts me. I could have been more helpful, but I didn’t step up. The project fell apart because the beloved pastor’s wife was no longer there to guide us. I’d agreed to help, but I failed to deliver.
What could I have done differently?
- I could have made an announcement to the congregation and found out exactly who was willing to continue on the project and when they were available.
- I could then have identified a common day and time when they could regularly work together.
- I and/or someone else could have taken a church key and been there to facilitate the volunteers.
Why didn’t I? I wanted someone else to handle it. But sometimes it just takes one person to get the ball rolling. I missed my chance to be that person because I didn’t make the effort. I couldn’t get my heart into it. Now my heart aches with regret.
This was not my first failure, and it won’t be my last. But it especially hurts because I let down people who are important to me. I hope I’ve learned from this. I now try not to commit to projects without first determining exactly how I can participate. Thinking things through can prevent heart failure.
Have you ever made a mistake that haunts you? What did you learn from your mistake?