I must admit this was an intriguing piece, one that took on a life of its own.

I unknowingly criticized another’s work one day, and soon after a coworker pointed out the error of my ways.  After giving that some thought, I said he was right and apologized to the one I offended.  He blew it off, but though I wasn’t the one who made the mistake I was wrong for having magnified it.

My mind reeled after that, and over the course of a month or so I began to interview coworkers without them knowing it – I filled a notebook with scribbles of enlightening human behavior.

It wasn’t long until the tide shifted and rolled over me, for I made a mistake only weeks after I pointed out someone else’s.  It was one of those mishaps that drew a crowd.  I was embarrassed and could only say, “It’s my fault!”  No one was hurt, that was the fortunate part, but my pride was utterly bruised.

There were those who stood afar who showed quiet concern – they’re the ones who don’t have much to say anyway.  A gal offered some support by saying, “We all learn from our mistakes … don’t we?”  A few derogatory comments were made, but one guy jumped in to help without saying a condescending word.  (I admired that)

The following day I expected to get a barrage of ridicule; none came.  The one I expected to heckle me the most never did.  When I asked him why he hadn’t razzed me he said: ”We all make mistakes, Greg … I’ve made a bunch.”  (I was taken aback by that)

I was proud of everyone I worked with, for they all contributed to this piece in some form.  I’m proud of the fact that they didn’t eat the wounded or pile on, for instead they chose to embrace understanding and forgiveness by shining the light on their own shortcomings.

One I respect, gave inspiration for the title by calling me “A Bull in a China Shop.”  I’ve been called many things, but after toying with the thought of that analogy I began to lean toward a new definition.

That analogy usually means a person is reckless, rambling through life with aimless abandon – but I choose not to see it that way.  No doubt many just stumble through life, making a mess of it, but there are those who take life by the horns and tackle it with bullish fervor.  Sure … they make mistakes, but they work hard at making a difference – I love those!

On the flipside, there are those who are like fine China.  They don’t do much of anything but be pretty.  They stand for nothing, have no opinion, just barely do enough to get by, and blend into the background afraid to get chipped up.

The one I originally offended helped me by giving rise to a thought-provoking theme:  We all make mistakes yet fall into two categories, those who can admit they make mistakes and those who refuse to.

A wise lady once told me: ”If ya don’t make a mistake, then ya ain’t doin’ much.”

I once read that, statistically, 93% of all those who attend church in America contribute nothing.  They don’t volunteer or give monetarily.  The other 7% carry the load.  Which do you choose to be, the bullish one who isn’t perfect but strides to make a difference, or that shiny earthenware that’s seldom used?

The world is needy and crying out.  Inspiration stares us all down; it’s a tree ripe for the pickin.’

Lest we dare grab hold.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org.

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