I don't have a natural talent. Not a single one. But that isn't really why I'm a failure.
I'm a failure because I'm a quitter.
Actually quitter is too strong of a word, it implies activity and engagement.
I'm more of a giver up-er.
I think I was around eight or nine the first time I remember the pain of failure. It was a lower grade than a friend on a math test. Then some obscure color of ribbon at a track meet. (Generally if you get a ribbon in fuchsia or celadon that means you didn't win or maybe even finish the race on the same lap as the winner.)
For the next twenty years I methodically made choices to protect me from that pain again.
I love to dance. I particularly love ballet. My best friend Staci and I were competitive dancers in high school, except I was never much competition. I had to work twice as hard to be half as good. Somewhere around mid-high school it dawned on me that I would never be able to keep up, so I gave up. But I never stopped loving it.
I loved being a new mom. Having babies was fun and so special. However it didn't take me long to see that there were women who had been ready for this their whole life. Not a single bit of it came naturally for me. I couldn't do cutesy crafts or adorable meals to save my life. So I lowered the bar on motherhood and gave up the hard stuff. Twice as hard to do half as good.
(Confession: I did "baby-led weaning" because I absolutely hated spoon feeding. If not adoring those precious moments is any indication, I'm a failure.)
This weekend I went to a writers conference. We sat in guided writing class on wrote for five minutes on a prompt and then shared aloud. (Yes, it was a horrifying as it sounds.) I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by what the people in that room could come up with in five minutes.
The commendations came in heavy...for everybody else.There weren't any for me.
The voice in my head whispered it again.
Twice as hard to be half as good.
It turns out passions don't die as easily as dreams.
It turns out that the intersection where failed dreams meet fueled passions is a hopeful place.
I know that because every time there is a dance class I can reasonably attend, I'm the first to show up.
I know that because every few weeks I pull out the cutesy crafts again and pray for patience.
I know that because it turns out maybe I'm not the quitter I though I was. I'm not the best. I work twice as hard to be half as good...but I'm hopeful.
Hope, by it's very definition, goes before and clears a path to keep going.
And Hope Does Not Lead Us Astray.
I'm no fool, I know that there is worse pain than failure. This isn't the sharp pain of physical affliction, it's the dull ache of not measuring up.
"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance..." Romans 5:3
Somewhere along the way that dull ache turned into determination. A choice to keep hanging in there for one more day.
"and endurance produces character..." Romans 5:4
And that choice started to form who I was, somewhere along the way I stopped being a quitter. A giver up-er. Somehow, for once when that voice said give-up, I was able to answer with a resounding NO!
"and character produces hope..." Romans 5:4
My answer poked a hole in failure that made room for hope. Hope. That's the Thing.
"and hope does not put us to shame..." Romans 5:5
I can't fail. I can't be a failure.
Not here. Not walking down the path of hope. I can mess up. I can be terrible dancer. I can be a bad mom. I can be an abysmal writer. But I can't fail walking this road of hope.
My God won't shame me when I put my hope in Him. Hope in my skills always reveals my shame, but Hope in My God never leads me astray.
"because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:5
Because I'm loved. Holy and Beloved.
So tell me friends, where are you failing today?
Maybe more importantly, what are you going to do about it?