Fair warning... this is definitely "heavier" than our usual blog posts. It's an earnest accounting of some history and current things going on with the business and it is posted here to be shared with anyone who cares to read, but it's not about cookies or cupcakes. :)
In today's gospel reading (Episcopal lectionary), the disciples are riding out a terrible storm in a boat and Jesus walks across the water to them. Peter then attempts to walk on water to reach Christ rather than wait for Christ to reach him. I always feel a strong kinship with Peter, perhaps because he is, as my priest describes him, the 'most human of all the disciples'. He challenges Jesus, he questions everything, he is stubborn and slow to understand, and yet he is well-intentioned and always an active participant- never a passive spectator.
Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" -from the book of Matthew
In which Peter requests and answers a call:
Peter answered him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come."
I can relate with Peter. Muddy's Bake Shop is and always has been a leap of faith. When I opened for business I did so with both a need to be called and the sure knowledge that God had beckoned me to step out onto the water. My faith was not in financial success of the business (in fact, I felt that there was a very strong possibility of failure), but rather that God intended this to be an undertaking through which I would learn and grow through risking everything and perhaps most importantly, learn to trust Him above all else including myself, even if it meant being broken in the process.
In which Peter walks on water:
Miraculously, I walked on water. The business was instantly popular despite absolutely no advertising, very little staff, and a completely unprepared and inexperienced boss at the helm (me). Despite any number of obstacles, a complete lack of sleep, and being totally overwhelmed, I continued to walk on water and the business performed amazingly well... and God was still my North Star, the focus point I used to guide everything, the one who I was purposefully walking toward through the wind and on top of the waves.
In which Peter begins to sink:
But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
After three years of walking on water I began to experience what we in our culture refer to as "burn out". I began to feel increasingly overwhelmed with running a small, popular business. Scheduling, payroll, keeping customers happy, human resources, keeping an eye on the competition... these things became my focus and I was increasingly terrified by my ignorance and the possibility of failure. Just like the storm on the sea, these were not new issues. The "weather" didn't change, but my focus did. All of a sudden fear swallows faith and Peter (and I) begin to sink.
In which Jesus takes a hand:
I ask for help and help is given. The storm still rages; there are still production problems, employee training, and growing pains to deal with and I am still a flawed and largely ignorant business-person... but I am reminded that these things are not the purpose, the reason, or the focus of this adventure. They are merely the 'weather' that faith exists within. Faith does not eliminate the every-day, it merely makes it possible for extraordinary things to happen despite those everyday conditions and conflicts.
The storm is still there and even when it quiets, there will be others. I will most likely falter again; like Peter, I can be slow to understand and stubbornly human in my actions. But I know that I will never be alone on the water and that when I lose my focus and begin to sink, all I have to do is reach out my hand and call for help. The business may still fail by most standards; one day we may cease to be profitable making it impossible to pay staff, purchase equipment, and remain solvent. I will certainly make mistakes and misjudgments as the steward of this business and those mistakes will have their price. But whether it "fails" or "succeeds" by most people's standards, it will certainly have served its purpose in building an enormous amount of character and providing a constant source of learning for me and others. The only true failure possible is if I turn my back on God's help and allow myself to drown in the storm.