When things don’t happen the way they are supposed to, many people consider that a failure. Maybe it is on some level. One movie said “Failure can teach you what winning can not… that you don’t want to fail.” Maybe there is some validity to that. I saw a quote elsewhere that said failure teaches grace. Sometimes. I think the biggest lesson that the genius failure teaches is the most important lesson of all. Humble mortality. I have lived on my own and supported myself financially since I was 17 years of age, way too early, I grant you that. But that, mixed with little direction and less support, produced within me a succinct ability to fail at some things. It is very hard to do everything yourself and keep up with it all. Now failing was my best friend because I had a tendency to believe that I was indestructable, unable to be harmed, strong. Where I was strong and became much stronger, if I had not have my friend failure in my life, I would have still believed my ego’s song of my own greatness in surviving the game of life. Failure humbled me. It gave me an enourmous sense of mortality and allowed me to realize that maybe it wasn’t me doing all this, gave me the gift of appreciation to and of God who I know beyond all shadow of doubt was always protecting and blessing me. And sometimes I gave His guardian angel who looks after me (Lord bless this superior angel) a real run for his money. And without failure, I would not have learned empathy in the degree I have, for it was not a natural gift. It was a vague word other people used and I thought it denoted weakness. How little I knew and how much I learned from failing, that people hurt because of their own choices (usually) or at the hand of another and it is an amazingly enormous strength who can feel that with them and lift them up by it. Amazing. I digress. It was failure in relationships that got me to see what I needed in one, what I needed to be. Yeah, screwed that up a lot too, but being humble in a relationship is half the battle and failure gave me that resource. I am very grateful. God used life circumstances, good and bad, to teach me how to do this life thing. I am no genius and still am a work in progress but I am very grateful for God bringing me this far. And I am more grateful for the failures than the accomplishments. I couldn’t say that at the time, but I can speak to anyone in any circumstance and I have been there- lowest rung to highest highs and everywhere between. I can relate and so I can help, my favorite thing of all. So don’t be afraid to fail. Be more afraid when everything is going to well and you get feeling a little cocky. Then, my friend, your failure lesson will not be too close behind. Embrace it. The faster you remember God got you where you are, the faster the lesson will be over. Just a little tip there. Love you!
Today my kids and I brought Lucy (my Dad’s little gray yorkiepoo) in to visit him in the nursing home. It had been a week or more since we did so. The dog did not greet Dad, who had been her favorite place to be when he lived at home. She had to be held on the bed for him to pet and still then would not look at him. She looked away, very uncomfortable and very not wanting to be there. And my mind wonders whether dogs know something we don’t know or sense something we don’t sense or if it is a matter of him just smelling different in a different environment. And my mind races to wonder at these things. And because of this nonwelcome, my dad ended up wiping a tear away and felt she rejected him or didn’t remember him. His sadness was more than I could bear. And on top of trying to work with this scenario, my mom was unknowingly demanding my attention to serve her and take care of what she wanted. So, I smiled my best smile and kissed Daddy and took Lucy home, knowing that I would not be repeating such a visit that caused more sadness than happiness. And the pictures I brought him of Lucy will be a better happier memory for him than her presence. Sometimes empathy dictates action and something which sounds good on paper does not work well in life. And happiness should be emphasized in the last days, months of life and not press upon it that which brings grief. So, out of love for my Dad, Lucy will remain home. Sometimes, as with my children, you shelter those you love from harm sometimes. Wisdom is knowing when to do this. And I long to be wise and hope this is the trait I am using in this decision. I know my Dad better than anyone but Aunt Barb, his sister, and were he still of his full mind, he would decide this for me if our roles were reversed. Sometimes loving someone best is not forcing their hand to accept that which you think is best versus that which is indeed best for them. It is unwise and unloving and impractical to push a rope. You may momentarily win at something, feel good for a moment, and if you weren’t paying attention may think you were doing the right thing, but right for you may not be right for them. I am not talking about right versus wrong, which line should not be blurred, but right according to your prescription versus what the person you are caring for actually needs. My Dad needs peace and calm and love and visits that promote these things. Sadness is not one of those things. Lucy is precious to him and always will be but sharing her memory when she cuddled him and slept on his bed may very well be the best time with her. Moral: what is best for you is not necessarily the best for someone you are caring for. Taking care of them implies you are looking to their best interest and not your own. So, there it is. And I will continue to wonder at Lucy’s bizarre reaction and what that means, realizing that dogs understand many things we do not in ways they can only communicate to us through their behavior. My Dad taught me that.
There is something magical about being yourself, completely yourself in front of another person who honors that. Not your idea of what they expect, not guarded, not trying to figure out if all of you is okay, not ready for criticism. There is a peace and rest and joy and perfection when you can be completely unguarded and totally just who you are with someone who accepts and even loves you that way. There are no words for how perfect that is. Some things can not be put into words in a way that gives them justice. This type of authenticity, this freedom of being produces the most thrilling rush of energy and life through the veins, down the spine, to the toes, that things look clearer after, sound better, smell better, feel more real, and it makes the rest of the world that would restrict and critique and put down and suck energy insignificant next to its glory. There are these lovely moments of calm that spread to days when done well so that the world notices your song, literally you are singing and didn’t realize it, and your smile is infectious and your children laugh and smile at the notice of your calm and happiness. Thus, authenticity and the freedom to be who you are in one such thing that has such a result and I am grateful to have a friend I can be authentic with. It is beautiful and bears repeating. The world is full of masks and actors, those who would guard their heart for fear of rejection, those who would rather suppress and criticize others lest their imperfections be made public, those whose hearts have grown as cold as the winters back in Michigan. And yet, there is hope. There is hope of a rare breed of people who decide that I am worthy of knowing as I am and loving the same. They are called friend, true friend, the friend that determines that the God who loves us unconditionally has got something with that and decides to love the same. And I am honored to have such friends on this planet. It makes me feel blessed by the God who made us all that He would look at this little girl and provide friends who love like He does, with such acceptance and lack of judgment and pride. I am honored, truly honored to have been given these friends. And I will do whatever I can to show my thankfulness and appreciation of them. Thank you, God!!!
Time is my primary love language, so I understand its importance in my life. If people love me, they spend time with me. If I love them, I spend time with them. It is unnatural to people who speak a different love language. Someone who primarily gives gifts thinks giving someone something or spending money on them says I love you, whereas someone who is set up for time thinks that is very nice but let’s go out or stay in together and that may not matter to the other person. There is a disconnect. But I digress, I want to focus on time for this thought process. Time to me is of the utmost importance. Primarily because it only lasts as long as it does and then is gone forever. You can not reclaim it. You can not unlive it. You can not return and correct it. You also can not speed it up or slow it down, though it feels like that sometimes. You have to take it for what it is. We are restricted by time. Time has great value. You can not with any amount buy more of it. You have what is allotted to you unless it is taken first. And that is it. A bleak thought but a meaningful one. Because. Each moment needs to count. Some moments, you wonder why you even exist. Other moments, you are certain the world would applaud if they saw you right then. Some moments can bring the greatest laughter of your life. Other moments leave you reliving its horror. Life is a mixed bag when it comes to time. But making moments as great and memorable as possible is a goal of mine for my children. It doesn’t always work, but I try to bring about as many joyful moments for them as possible to give them a coat rack to hang their coats on, stability in an uncertain world, loving thoughts amidst hate around them. Time is very fragile and should be captured in glorious memories as long as is possible. And every moment lived purposefully and beautifully is another that is won for security, for remembering when we need a lift, for attending to. Each opportunity to shine and serve should be taken, each kiss should be felt, each hug should be notated, not because we are taking inventory but because we want our memory libraries to look back on and feel proud, loved, happy, peaceful, etc. when we need them. I have friends who have died already, taken before their time, and many more with cancers of various types, fighting the battle to live. And they are my age. They say how valuable time is and how they took it for granted that they had more. And Lord willing they make it through and have many many more years with us. But their viewpoint has certainly changed. Time is fragile and thus so are we. We need to respect that moment each of us are living in the here and now. We should plan for the future but with a flexibility that still allows us to live each moment that arises and pay attention to opportunities to be who we were made to be. Then we can look at our time and be proud of those moments. And they matter, all of them. The silly is as important as the purposeful too, for silly helps sometimes.
More and more, I firmly believe that we have to believe in God’s knowledge of who we are and rest in the fact that He knows who we are and knows our importance. I think that is the key to feeling like you matter in this world of everyone entrenched in their own lives. And histories. I think if we don’t find rest in our identity with God and trust in that as truth, we easily become the forgotten, the once was, the I remember her. It is easy to want to be validated by another person, it is easy to believe we don’t really matter that much anymore, that the world is done with needing us or finding us helpful or useful anymore. That is easy. And I guess I have never really been comfortable doing anything the easy way. So I am exploring other options here, feeling possibilities, remembering truth. And this thought keeps popping in. God made me for Him. So really, it would feel and be so freaking amazing to have another person nearby help me feel needed and appreciated and meaningful, honestly and truthfully that is not what is needed for my lungs to accept and reject air or my blood to pump through my body. What is needed for those things to keep happening is that God made me for Him because He wanted me and saw purpose and really loves me. And on this celebration tomorrow of Jesus’ work being finished and hope being given to us, I understand that He was not understood or appreciated either. And yet He knew His love needed for this to happen. He loved and acted based on His purpose. So I can work on that and focus on Him. And He is so good as to spend time with me. He will hold me. He will love me no matter what. That is pretty meaningful. That matters.
There is a beautiful poem which I would quote verbatim to you were not my daughter sound asleep in her room where it is, so easily awakened by a turn of her doornob. But the jist is that different animals want to play but it is always conditional. The skunk won’t play with the monkey unless he wears his scent. The tigeroo won’t play with the lamb unless he wears his stripes. And so on it goes. Each animal will only play with animals conditionally, sometimes unrealistic conditions. And the end line, the moral, is to play when you can but “Do not let their different ways make you a different you.” We were made beautifully exactly the way God designed us, according to His plan and purpose. When we find ourselves in company with someone who wants us to change and be different according to their plan, their mold, we are not only being disrespectful to ourselves and enabling that person to disrespect us without accountability, but most importantly of all, we are robbing God of His perfect design and disrespecting His workmanship. Think about that for a minute. His work is worth respecting because He only makes masterpieces. He does not make anyone unworthy of love, respect, joy, peace, etc. They can choose to drag themslves into that category but it is their choice not God’s. Food for thought.
I told my son today that one of my friends from back home died when he asked me what was wrong. He (10 years old) immediately asked me if she was a Christian who believed in Jesus and was saved. I said she was because her character spoke of it as did she. He said, “Well, we should be clebrating because she is in Heaven. I am happy for her.” And that got me thinking. A 10 year old’s perspective is full of faith and simplicity. Why on earth would we be sad anyone went to Heaven? If we really believe that to be true, I guess that leaves our sadness to our feelings of missing that person, which is a loss to work out based on us. Selfish really to be sad and mopey about our friend we love changing out of a diseased body into a heavenly one and dancing praises in the most beautiful place we can imagine. We will miss them but knowing where they are going makes it much easier to bear.