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Posts Tagged ‘failure’

31525266111735619_mN9c2Kr4_bI have been pondering the question, “who am I?”

As I have been pondering and researching that question I have kept returning to the same response …

Before I get to that response, let me expose myself to you first (my kids would now place their hands over their eyes and say “TMI Mom” (too much information).

As I see myself, I see one word …

f   a   i   l   u   r   e

As a wife, I am a failure.
I love my husband, but truly I do not always like him. I do not put his needs first (unless he has done something to meet my own before that). I do not love him unconditionally. I do not save my best for him. He usually gets all the frustrations of my day dumped onto his shoulders (and the residual anger and frustration).

As the wife of my husband who is a pastor, I am a failure.
I do not even try to ‘work along side of him in his role. I do not sit with him in church. I do not spend my every spare minute leading Bible studies, teaching Sunday School or visiting the sick. I do not initiate connecting with people from church on a weekly, or even regular basis. I do not even play the piano!

As a mom, I am a failure.
When our three kids were born, I had such grand intentions. I whispered promises that I have broken over and over again. I have not stepped in when they have needed me to. I have ‘wigged out’ at and on them, like a wild woman. I have not tucked them in, with stories and prayers every night of their existence. I have not helped them with homework on a daily basis (in this I am a really big failure, because that is what I get paid to do at school!). Heck, there is a science fair coming up, and I have not done much other than edit my son’s paper. I have even told them, “no, I do not want to hug you right now.”

In my job, I am a failure.
I do not use my time well. I do not show up to classes prepared. I stand in the hallways and chat, when my students are in class. I do not always follow directions from my supervisors. I have even been known to leave early. I do not always like my students, my co-workers, my supervisors, my school.

As a friend, I am a failure.
I do not always make time for my friends. I do not always return their calls, emails, texts, messages quickly. I do not always remember their birthdays. I do not always listen actively to them.

As a child of God, I am a failure.
He, who I say is the most important part of my life, does not always get my attention … at all.

But …

Because I am a child of God, who I am is a reflection, not of what I see in a mirror, but who I am when His light is reflected through me.

Like the image at the top of the page, I am like that elderly woman. I am weighted down by the reality of living in this sin-filled body, in this sin-filled world. My body, my mind, my heart are aging towards their natural end … death. But, like that lady in that image, who I am is being reflected, not as I think I am, but as the beloved of the King.

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”
Song of Solomon 6:3

Who do you think you are? In the light of your heavenly Father, you are

B   E   L   O   V   E   D

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They say that we give the gifts to others that we want for ourselves, and so I took this to heart this Christmas with regards to gifting for my hubby.

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Years ago … at least six years ago … I had gone that first time to try out a therapeutic massage covered by the health care plan at my work. It was amazing, and I later told hubby of my spa adventure. I am sure that as hubby was hearing my story of extravagant pampering the wheels in his head had him convinced that his annual tradition of ‘failing’ (his word, not mine) when it came to Christmas gifts for his wife, was about to turn to great success.

Although I did enjoy the experience, it was not a very comfortable place for me, as I felt a bit like a fish out of water in an environment of such luxury. From my point of view, once was enough … but I had failed to mention this fact to my very well-intentioned hubby.

So, when Christmas rolled around, a beautifully wrapped, generous gift card to a spa that I had gone to once, and had spoken so glowingly of at my premier visit, was to be my gift from the man who tries so desperately to please.

This lovely, generous, well-intended gift has sat in and on my dresser for at least six years, causing frustration and bitterness every time it would be within view of my guy.

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But no longer would it gather dust.

Weeks before this past Christmas I made the brilliant decision to re-gift hubby’s spa gift card … to him!

I went in to the spa, ensured that the balance of the card was as I had remembered, and booked a couples massage appointment.

So, yesterday, hubby and I went to share in the gift of Christmas past, as well as Christmas present.

Total and complete relaxation, being pampered and cared for in total and complete luxury, convinced me that the spa, not the ‘Magical’ place is the happiest place on Earth!

When we stepped out over two hours later, we both felt refreshed and relaxed. Gone were the years of gift ‘failure’ and feelings of rejection for the unused, unappreciated gift … all were replaced with the joy of sharing in the gift of well-intentions.

And, so often that is our problem when it comes to our relationships … the love and joy get lost in the misunderstanding of the intentions of the other person. We spin our own version of the gift; his that he is a failure, mine that he does not know my heart. But, in being able to share in the gift, to share in the well-intentions of each of us, joy can be shared … together.

In re-gifting to hubby the gift that he had given to me, we were both able to receive the gifts we both wanted most, enjoyment and time together.

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Two weeks from today summer will really be over. There will be great mourning and gnashing of teeth in our home. It will be with great regret that our alarms will be set, lunches will be made, and the trek to school will be taken.

As I contemplate all that this day means, I also think back …  w  a  y  back  … to when I was school student. I remember the new clothes (brand new fall/winter sweaters when the temperatures are often still reflecting the summer season), the new shoes (which always came home not so white, and feet requiring bandages for the new shoe blisters), the crisp clean lined Hilroy notebooks, the line-up at the pencil sharpener (because we all had new pencils), and the revelation of who would be our classroom teacher for the school year.

Just one month ago I was driving down a highway in Oregon, listening to a radio station, and they started talking about back to school. I just about drove into a light standard! Back to school was not something that I wanted to hear about in late July. But what they were saying about returning to school stopped me from doing anything too radical. They were encouraging people, parents, to print off a teacher appreciation certificate and take it to the school on the first day, as an act of supporting and encouraging the teachers of their children.

Now that I could get into!

I have tried over the years to be supportive to the classroom teachers of my kids. Working within the school system gives me an even more intimate understanding of just how appreciated (and, for those teaching high school, rare) words, acts and gifts of encouragement are to these teachers who spend more time with our kids each day than we do.

I think all of us can think back to at least one teacher who inspired us to live better, think differently, and who encouraged us in who we are.

Immediately I think back to my grade four teacher, Mrs. Kavanaugh, who was so kind … to everyone in the class. The thing I remember most about her is how she treated the ‘underdogs’ of the classroom. She was more patient with them than any other teacher. She gave them extra words of encouragement. She did not favor the smartest, the prettiest, the richest. You know, I do not remember one academic thing she taught us, but I think I took away something better, because she gave me the tools to be a better person.

She was not the only teacher that I think of, but she is the one who comes to my mind first.

How about you? Do you remember a special teacher? How about taking the challenge to encourage a teacher as your children return to classrooms, gymnasiums, and libraries? How about starting the parent-teacher relationship off with an act of  encouragement, of love?

It just might set the stage for a great year for your son or daughter, for their teacher, and for you.

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How is it that you can look at yourself in a mirror every day and still not see what you really look like until someone takes your picture?

As I looked at that picture, containing myself, I realized that the image I have been seeing in the mirror for months has not been a true reflection. Although I saw the realities of the imperfections and flaws, my eyes had somehow missed the significance of just how much I have grown (and I’m not talking growth of character).

A year ago I was celebrating the positive changes that I had made to my daily life. I was walking regularly, I was eating more healthily, I was taking the time to fulfill a passion (that would be this blog), and I had lost over thirty pounds of dense, life-hindering fat.

But, the fat came back.

And now I am hanging my head.

I saw the photo that is the outward expression of my failure, and hung my head in shame, and disappointment.

Oh, I was aware that the fat came back, because I have stood on the torture tool that we keep in our bathrooms … the scales. Somehow, although the numbers where the scale would point were indicating that I had gained it all back, the reality of my sins had not become real for me until I saw myself in a picture.

What I saw was that my face was bigger, and my eyes were disappearing into my swollen cheeks. My normally big mamma arms had grown to look like those of a trucker (without the trucker tan). Thankfully I had worn black on black, so I did not have to see my stomach protruding beyond “the girls.” And my best asset (no I am not talking about my rear) was my legs, because I had shaved them, and they were silky smooth … of course THAT could NOT be seen in the photo.

After the tear fest into my pillow, I had a conversation with myself (if you tell anyone that I admitted that I talk to myself I will deny it completely, and I have sworn my pillow to secrecy).

My self said to me, “it’s been a stressful year, Carole. Last year your hubby was on sabbatical, and that eliminated some of the stresses in your life (and he was gone for about two months, which eliminated even more stress … just joking, hubby 😉 … and don’t tell me that you did not benefit from being away from me for two months!). Then, you worked through much of your summer break last year. Then you had two adolescents move into your home and family. Then you started a full time position, for the first time in eighteen years. Then your dad was dealing with health issues, and living too far away to help your parents just about drove you insane. Then there was the ‘normal’ stresses of life; money, work, marriage, kids. Your weight gain is just a reflection of the stresses in your life.”

And my response to myself, MALARKEY!

Oh, it would be far too easy to claim ‘stress’ as the reason for why the fat came back. The problem in doing that is that it removes your personal responsibility for your decisions. And it just does not make logical sense.

If I were to perform poorly at work, would my stressful home life excuse my negligence of my students? NOT!

If I were to have left my husband, because I could no longer handle the stress in my life, would my children be able to understand and forgive me? I DON’T THINK SO!

If I were to have killed someone, would the stresses in my life be a good rational for my crime? NO!

Stress does not dislocate my brain cells. I may have to concentrate more on the decisions I am making, and be more intentional in what I am doing, but I do still have the power to do what is right, and good, and healthy.

Sure, it has been more challenging to find the time to go for long walks. Sure it has been more difficult to force the multitude of things on my mind aside, so that I can clear and renew my mind and heart and soul. Sure, solitary has become almost an impossibility in our home. And, with house maintenance on Saturday, and hubby’s church-related committments on Sunday, there is an absence of a ‘sabbath’ in my life.

But, the fat came back, not because of stress, but because I lifted my hand to my mouth.

It is time for a change!

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Karla Sullivan

Progressive old soul wordsmith

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