Well, I finally did the thing I most feared, aside from making a fool of myself on live radio, which I also have done.
I sent the wrong interview questions to a source.
Funny how things change.
I wrote my first article on a typewriter and did all of my interviewing over the phone or in person while frantically taking notes in a steno book with a ballpoint pen. Today, I write my articles on a quite-nice and fairly fast computer – a gift from my awesome hubby to help me with my work – and do most of my interviewing by email. I send the questions; they send the answers. It’s less pressure for my source, and definitely easier for me in putting the article together.
That, of course, is the main reason I did the thing I most feared. I was working on four articles at once and preparing for multiple speaking engagements at the same time. I was trying to speed ahead to meet the deadlines, and was working at breakneck speed to get the questions out so my sources would have time to answer before the articles were due.
That’s when it happened. I copied a set of questions and pasted them into the wrong email. The result was that I asked a psychotherapist about her confession habits.
Yeah, that was bad.
The psychotherapist was clearly … um … unhappy. I tried to apologize and explain, but the damage had been done and I was left without a source and with a deadline just hours away.
Spent by lack of sleep and the pressure of deadlines, I caved. I felt horribly sorry that I’d offended a source, hurt by her curt response, fearful that I wouldn’t be able to meet the deadline, and irritated at myself for not handling things better. Frustrated, I flicked off the computer, walked over to our prayer corner, and plopped myself down before the picture of Our Lady.
Looking into her loving, motherly eyes, I said, somewhat loudly, three sweet little words: “I’ve had it!” I fell asleep while awaiting her response. A wise mother knows when to let her child stew in her own huff.
An hour and a half later, I woke up in a panic. It was nearing the end of the business day, and I had only another hour or so to come up with a replacement source. I rushed back into the office and flicked my computer back on. When my email program opened, it pulled in a handful of new emails, one of which was from a psychologist who had initially declined my interview request. She’d reconsidered, answered the questions, and sent them back to me. I’d be able to make my deadline!
I have no doubt that while I was snoozing our Blessed Mother was busy interceding for me before God. Her pleading must have moved him to pity and so he decided to fix my mistake. I’m not sure what was more humbling for me – having to turn to God in utter exasperation or having made the mistake in the first place. Either way, God has proven once again that he can fix any mistake and he will, when and how it’s good for us.
(Fenelon, a mother of four, and her husband, Mark, belong to St. Anthony Parish, Milwaukee. Visit her website: www.margefenelon.com.)