Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I am a failure

I fail at most things I try, or at least I believe I will fail at most things I try so I try not to try things. Failure is not something I cope well with, and yet I frequently feel as if I am in the midst of it. Theater training is good for these situations. If you fail on stage,  you have to keep going. No matter what you must push on. I am good at keeping on. I am not good at reflecting or changing or facing stuff.

This feeling of failure has been closing in around me for the past two weeks. Its gnarly hands are pulling me down into a mire of despair and self loathing. It is common for me to feel anxiety around the holidays. Too many strange and lonely Christmases and too much lack of normal can make it difficult to discern what a "family" does on Christmas. I tend to push, and plan and overload. Christmas must be perfect. I must make up for all the years it was just my Mom and I, or, actually worse, when my Dad was there and we all felt uncomfortable and awkward.

2014 feels a bit worse. My failures are larger and more prominent. My body has failed me, my iron count is low and I magically didn't conceive a child as soon as I was cleared to start trying.  I failed to grow and deliver a healthy child, which is sort of my main biological purpose, so that sucks. I didn't give my husband a second son, or my son a little brother. I couldn't prevent my unborn son from developing a horrible disease that took his skull and his brain. I failed to protect him.

I have failed my Mom. She has had to care for me more than I have cared for her in the last six months. She is always there, and I have been a bit drifty. A bit lost and not the adult dependable daughter  I should be. I am a moody wife. I have good days and bad days. I don't always support my husband as I should. I fail to be kind and am instead spouting anger. Instead of be loving, I can be nitpicky and shrewish. Not at all the wife I picture myself being.

I fail my son. I am not always present. Sometimes I want to run and hide. His major tantrums freak me out.  I think I can be too hard sometimes, but other times I feel too soft. I don't read enough to him. I should do more projects with him. His diet is spotty and mainly consists of applesauce, yogurt and granola bars. I don't know how to get him to eat other food. I don't always give him the one on one time he deserves. I let him cry himself to sleep, and instead of finding a way to stay home with him I leave him at daycare for 40 hours a week.

I am not the teacher I once was. I don't lead like I did. My desire to go out there and do it isn't the same. Papers take longer to grade. For time, I assign paragraphs instead of essays. I am not pushing to be in front and leading. My desire to be on top of it all has faded. Now I just want to figure it out.

I could go on. Finances, figure, hair, possible early skin cancer on my nose. I am not a model of anything. I am barely holding it together. Often, I am not holding it together at all. I am simply staying afloat. I fail all the time, and I hate myself for it. It sucks.

This is the mantra that has been running through my head the past few weeks. There was a point when I thought about how I must have deserved to lose my baby. It must have been God punishing for choices in my past. He must want to punish me. He must see what a failure I am. How could he not? He knows the parts of me I hide. My ugliest truths.

During the past two weeks, I have been doing a devotional series that focuses on the genealogy of Jesus. Those who worked together to make God into flesh. Normally I ignore these charts, but as I learned the stories of the names listed I began to understand that we are all failures.

Jesus came from the tribe of Judah. Judah was the brother who came up with the idea to sell his brother Joseph to the Ismaelites. He willingly sold his brother into slavery. After this, he married a pagan woman and two of three sons died.  He sent his sons widow back home and didn't honor his duties towards her. He willingly slept with a prostitute who turned out to be his forgotten daughter in law. It is from this interaction that line of Jesus begins. Not a very auspicious beginning. There is a whole lot failure in there.

Rahab is included in the line as well. Another prostitute, she saved the Israelite spies in the city of Jericho. As a reward for her faith,  her family is saved and she eventually married an Israelite. Their son was Boaz who marries Ruth. They had Obed, who had Jesse, who had David the second King of Israel. David was a "man of God", but he was also an adulterer and a murderer. I can see some tinge of failure in his story.

God uses failure. Failure highlights His glory. There were other choices, men and women who weren't failing at such an epic level, but by using people who failed God's love is able to shine brighter. Jesus didn't come from a line of perfection. He came from a line of failure that was made perfect by His sacrifice. His lack of failure redeemed all of our failures.

This is a deep concept, and I have a hard time with it. It is much easier to believe that God keeps count and is ready to dish out retribution. Believing that there is certain amount of failure allowed before God is done with you is a very human impulse. We want to equate God to our small perspectives. That is how we feel about failure, so why wouldn't He?

My son fails. He has bad days and makes poor choices. He tries to kick the ball and misses, or can't remember what number comes after 18. He gets time outs and has to apologize to those he hurt. Everyday he fails, and everyday I forget the failures from the day before and never stop loving him. When he fails, I don't remind of him of all the other failures, but instead tell him to keep trying. We sing the Daniel Tiger song, "keep trying you'll get be-et-ter". I am rooting for him to overcome his failures, and I want him to know that my love surpasses all of it.

If I am capable of offering my son this kind of love, then why am I limiting God's ability to love me to a greater extent? God is love. All He wants to do is love me. No matter how many times I fail and fall. No matter how often I have to turn to Him and pray for a fresh start. No matter the number of times I just can't get it together. No matter what, His love for me stays constant. When He looks at me, he doesn't see my failure. He sees my perfect self made whole through the blood of Christ.

I need to stop counting my failures. This is really a lack of faith. Who am I to say that my failure and sin is too big for Christ to take away? Who am I to limit the love of God who sent His son to serve as a sacrifice for me? Who am I assume that I know God's plan? If I was God, I would let me rot. I wouldn't pick me for anything useful. Luckily, that isn't my job. My job is to "keep trying you'll get be-et-er". Right now that is a daily goal. Please pray for me and let me know how I can pray for you.

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