“Failure”

I will not let my failures turn into the curse of shame – “True North” Rend Collective

The following is a quote posted by Success Inspirer’s World and my response following their invitation to reflect and comment:

Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on, go play
Hey now, you’re a rock star” – “All Star” Smash Mouth

I’m a survivor
I’m not gon give up
I’m not gon stop
I’m gon work harder
I’m a survivor
I’m gonna make it
I will survive
Keep on survivin’” – “Survivor” Destiny’s Child

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” -Psalm 73:26

Dear God,

You do not make mistakes. When You created me is no exception. Help me to admit and accept my mistakes, as well as to realize they are not necessarily “failures” but opportunities to learn. Help me to be the “Survivor” and the “Rock Star” that You created me to be.

Perspectives

Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”- Bill Nye

Usually, the standard practice for doing a puzzle is to lay out every piece in plain sight. If you drop a piece in between the couch cushions, you will never be able to see the big picture and you will never be able to complete the puzzle.

When you bag groceries, your view is quite limited; you can only see so many items and quickly decide how to bag them. You do not usually see everything at once. You do not get the luxury of deciding the most strategic plan. You can do everything in your power to bag all the frozen items together-until a straggler bag of frozen corn saunters down the conveyor belt dead last. The other frozen items are at the bottom of the cart 4 layers down.

When you pick in a warehouse, your perspective is even more severely limited. You have no idea what is coming next. You only see one pick at a time. There is no planning. You can take wild guesses. But there is no insight. There is only hindsight. I should have stacked the items this way. I shouldn’t have placed that there. Why did this gigantic box have to be next when my cage is full?

Life can be like picking in a warehouse setting. Other times it can be more like bagging groceries. Sometimes you get a limited perspective, and sometimes you are going in blind. We can all make guesses, predictions, hypotheses, but life can still throw you a curve-ball.

Even though we know that we make mistakes, and that “If I had known that, I would have done it that way instead,” we still look at others at times, and aren’t as forgiving. We get frustrated, annoyed, and just flat out exasperated with an oversight on their part (or their obvious* carelessness!)

Let’s just pretend for a moment that maybe we don’t have the whole picture. Maybe we don’t have all of the information. Maybe we don’t have the same information.

“Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, and Ron McMillan, was the first time I had ever heard that we make up stories about others based on the information and perspective that we have. We make up stories based on the information we don’t have.

Take this analogy that “Success Is An Iceberg:

The opposite is true as well. Failure is an iceberg. We only see what we perceive to be a failure, however, we do not see all of the factors affecting that “failure”.

We see a failure to deliver desired results, a failure to be polite, or a failure to remember important information. We do not see that the associate cannot control the stock in the store and therefore there is no more size 5 diapers, no matter how hard they look. We do not see that the cashier was up until 2 am with a sick child and is not acting his normal patient, friendly, self. We do not think about the fact that our kids’ brains are still developing, and therefore do not have the same capability to remember something that we do.

“Maybe you got dealt a good hand
Maybe you play it the best that you can
But I don’t know how far you’d walk without those cards
In Howard and Danny’s working shoes
-“The Men That Drive Me Places” Ben Rector

*”Everything is Obvious* Once You Know the Answer”- Book by Duncan J. Watts

“…first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.“-Matthew 7:5

Dear God,

Help me to recognize that I cannot see the big picture in all situations. I do not have all the peices to puzzle, and therefore my stories are innacurate and incomplete. Please help me to reduce my frustrations, judgement, and negativity, and increase my tolerance, patience, and love.

Our Plans, His Purpose

Jesus, take the wheel
Take it from my hands
‘Cause I can’t do this on my own
I’m letting go
So give me one more chance
And save me from this road I’m on- “Jesus Take the Wheel” Carrie Underwood

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.“-Proverbs 16:9

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I did not want to be a shoes associate, a snack bar operator, a cashier, a sandwich maker, a busboy, a truck unloader, an electronics associate, or a warehouse picker, or anything of the sort. Yet here I am.

I wanted to be a youth pastor. And a counselor. And an art therapist. And now I want to be a writer.

None of those have panned out. Yet. And maybe some of them never will. But maybe there is a reason that God placed me in the positions I have been in. Maybe I didn’t finish college. Maybe I don’t hold any of the jobs I saw myself in as a teen or even as an adult.

God causes all things to work together for good, right?

Maybe you too had bigger plans for your life. Be patient. Your story isn’t over. It’s still being written. Think of it as a collaboration between you and God. You make the choices, but allow God to guide you. To counsel you when you are unsure of the path you are on and the paths you have yet to take.

I don’t wanna be no backseat, no backseat driver
I don’t wanna navigate, won’t You take it over
I don’t wanna ever doubt you, I’m lost without You Lord
I don’t wanna be no backseat, no backseat driver
You got the wheel, take me where you wanna go-“Backseat Driver” TobyMac

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” -Proverbs 19:21

Dear God,

The job that I do each day seems so unsatisfying sometimes. I feel purposeless. Reassure me that this road I am on is a preparation for the great things You have in store for me. Teach me patience and perseverance. Give me wisdom. Help me to lean not on my own understanding. Jesus take the wheel.

Intentions

If not us who will be like Jesus
To the least of these
If not us tell me who will be like Jesus
Like Jesus to the least of these” – “Kings and Queens” Audio Adrenaline

Yesterday I did not go to work. I took the kids to school (some of them on time, one of them late). Went to the small grocery store a few blocks away to buy some crackers for my lunch for the rest of the week. Laid back down in bed. I woke up to take a lunch to school…laid back down.

Did not feel rested.

I thought of all of the things I have been meaning to do for people. I usually make cards homebound people at my mom’s church once a week. Didn’t get around to that. I do name art for birthdays and for thank you’s. I have a loooong list that I haven’t started yet.

What is going to get me motivated to get out of bed and get going?

I have it. Why don’t I make a card for the cashier who checked out my groceries at the store earlier that morning? She is always so friendly and nice to talk to, as well as vastly under-appreciated for the effort she puts in each day on the job.

Part of what I hope to impart to you is the importance of reaching out to people just like us, who work in the retail and service industries, who many people tend to take for granted. Why not be an example?

The rush of creating and the “high on life” feeling from giving was not a miracle cure. I still dragged my feet. I barely made it back to the store before needing to pick up the kids. I caught her just before she disappeared into her car. She appeared startled by the unexpected gift. I can only pray that not only did a small gesture brighten her day, but I hope it made her feel good about herself and the part she plays in this world.

My intentions far outnumber my actions.

I seem to always come up with an excuse as to why I didn’t do something I meant to do for someone, even if I considered it a priority.

A neighbor stopped by last week as I was nearly done cleaning up the driveway. She mentioned she wished she had an excuse for not cleaning up her own. “You have children,” I said, “That is always an excuse.

Do not judge yourself based on your ability or lack of ability to give back to others. Don’t compare yourself to me, or your parents, or your best friend, or that philanthropist on T.V. Look to your intentions. What would you do with a million dollars if you had it? What would you do with a million free hours if you had it? Chances are, you would DO GOOD.

That’s not bad grammar.

You would do good deeds. You would help those who are in need.

But it’s okay if you can’t. You have a life. You have a job. You have bills. You may have kids. You may have classes with a ton of homework to go with. Like I’ve said before, a smile can make all the difference in the world. God can take a prayer and run with it, and bless someone in ways you will never even see.

YOU ROCK.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” -Matthew 25:40

Dear God,

You know the desires of my heart Lord. You know my intentions. You know what I am able to do and what I am not. Help me to be a light despite my limitations. Allow me to bless those around me in any way that I can.

Start Right Where You Are

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”-Maya Angelou

“Be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet.”

Audiobooks are an excellent way to read in a time-crunch. And I’m often in a time-crunch. Audiobooks give me the freedom to take in information while I do the dishes. While I drive. While I walk around from room to room like a chicken with my head cut off picking up a sock here, a candy wrapper there, a toy over there, cleaning for an hour and having nothing to show for it. Audiobooks also give me the excuse that I am “doing research” or “feeding my emotional soul” while I am really just lying in bed doing nothing but listening.

I just borrowed a book by Sam Bennett. I have only barely begun, but what immediately drew me to this book in particular was it’s title. Start Right Where You Are.

I often feel like I am not good enough. Why can’t I get a better job? Why can’t I be a better parent? Why does everyone else seem to have a “real life” except for me?

Start where you are.

A reader commented something like how we relate to each other better because we all make mistakes. I appreciated this perspective. We worry about our image and how we appear to others, however, we often bond over common weaknesses, and share similar stories of mistakes and fails.

The feelings that I don’t measure up have a lot to do with regrets. Why didn’t I finish college? Why didn’t I do these activities with the kids when they were little? Why do I make identical mistakes, the day after I said “I won’t make this same mistake tomorrow”?

Start right where I am.

Get to work tomorrow. Go above and beyond in some way. Help a co-worker. Share an idea. I don’t need a promotion tomorrow. I can aim to make a difference instead.

Do not resort to yelling at my kids tomorrow. Recognize my frustrations usually stem from something other than their direct actions. It’s more about me than about them. I don’t have to be a perfect parent. I can aim to be calmer.

Jesus is the only perfect person who has ever lived. God does not require me to be perfect. He would like for me to follow Jesus’ example. But He will take me as I am. He will take you as you are.

You don’t have to be perfect.

YOU Matter.

I think
I’ve got nothing good to bring
But You look at my heart and You tell me
That I’ve got all You seek, oh
And it’s easy to believe even though I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
And on my own I’m so clumsy
But on Your shoulders I can see
I’m free to be me-“Free to Be Me” Franseca Battistelli

“…’My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.“-2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

Dear God,

Thank you for loving me just as I am. Thank you for the gift of grace. Please shape me into the person You want me to be, and help me to be patient with myself while You do so.

When It’s Tough To Do ANYTHING

Some days I must admit
I still don’t get this
Could be it’s time to quit
When days get like this
I slip into the night
Then stumble towards the light
Wake up and try again
-“When You Called My Name” Newsboys

I’m tired
I’m worn
My heart is heavy
From the work it takes to keep on breathing
I know I need
To lift my eyes up
But I’m too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that You can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left” – “Worn” Tenth Avene North

“I wish I could stay in bed all day. I am wiped.”

“If you stayed in bed all day, you would have less to blog about,” my friend advised me.

Every winter, all winter, I always think to myself, “When it is warm out and the sun is shining, life will be so much better.” And all of my problems will go away. Is the underlying, unspoken thought.

Yet, here it is, a beautiful spring day where the sun is shining gorgeously and the weather is perfect.

I have no energy.

I didn’t accept overtime at work because I didn’t feel like it. I took a very short, frequently interrupted (and therefore quite the opposite of restful) nap. I reluctantly loaded the dishwasher very, very sloooowwwly. I am back in my bed laying down and feeling no motivation whatsoever to get up.

Previously, I worked seven days a week between both of my jobs. I lived for the two nights a week I would be free from 4:30 p.m. to bedtime (whenever that was). There was no laying around.

Perspective changes your outlook on life. When I only had an hour each day I worked both jobs, and about four hours each evening off of my second job to spend with my family, I relished that time as precious as diamonds, despite the overwhelming exhaustion plaguing me.

Now I am listening to the kids jumping on the trampoline outside, and I am desperately trying to muster the energy to head out there and enjoy watching their antics.

I am tired. Things did not go my way today. I so badly crave another (restful) nap.

But I don’t want to miss out.

Tonight, I’ll prepare for my week ahead for work, and I’ll go to bed early (with any luck), but now I am going out to enjoy the remainder of this beautiful, God-given day.

“Use that!”-Cruz

“Oh, yeah I see, I can use that energy for motivation, right? Rrrrr…”-Lightning McQueen

“It’s all about motivation, Mr. McQueen. You can use anything negative as fuel to push through to the positive.” -Cruz

-Cars 3
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28

Dear God,

Provide energy in my times of exhaustion that I may enjoy Your creation, the family and friends You have blessed me with, and the opportunity to LIVE rather than just exist. Give me the motivation as well as strength to pull myself out of this funk. Help me to be freshly grateful for the things I take for granted. Thank You for your many gifts to me.

Connection

I know sometimes it’s hard for you
To keep your feet upon the path that you’ve chosen
It’s not for you to walk alone

Together we can take this road where it’s going – hang on

Stand by me – stand right here
The time has come to say it clear
Don’t give up – don’t give in
We will stand together to the end
And, I’ll be around – I’ll be around” – “I’ll Be Around” Michael W. Smith

When one of my co-workers (or I’ll admit, I) complain about a process at work that is less than fair and does not make much sense, I’ll say “At least we’re all bailing out of the same boat.”

Now, there are a plethora of articles criticizing the act of complaining for various reasons, however, there are also articles citing the benefits of complaining as a shared experience.

The jury may still be out (perhaps just out to Olive Garden, perhaps indefinitely) on whether complaining is beneficial or detrimental, but connecting with others is a basic human need and desire.

I am addicted to TED Talks, but one of my favorites (yes, I have 100+) is Johann Hari’s “Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong.”

Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond, and when we’re happy and healthy, we’ll bond and connect with each other, but if you can’t do that, because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief. Now, that might be gambling, that might be pornography, that might be cocaine, that might be cannabis, but you will bond and connect with something because that’s our nature. That’s what we want as human beings.

And of course, “The opposite of addiction is connection.”

Not all of us need connections with others to combat drug addictions. Maybe we need others to combat loneliness. Anxiety. Being overwhelmed. Feelings of inadequacy. Trauma. Every day life.

I once told someone I didn’t have time for friends. And at the time, it may have been true that I was stretched thin between two jobs, still-quite-dependent children, and life’s demands. Though it was more like the opposite was true-I couldn’t afford not to be a friend, because I needed support to get me through the period I was in pure survival-mode.

Don’t be afraid to tell others you need them. Don’t be afraid to ask for support. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of COURAGE.

YOU deserve LOVE.

YOU deserve SUPPORT.

YOU deserve CONNECTION.

YOU Matter.

Friends through thick and thin
Friends to the very end
I think you would agree
That’s how it is for You and me
I want to know I need You
I want you to know it’s true
That there’s no way
I could have made it without You
It’s so good to know that
I’ve got a friend like You” – “A Friend Like U” Geoff Moore and the Distance

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” -Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)

Dear God,

Surround me with friends, family, and a community of support and connection. Allow me to develop the type of character which attracts friends. Help me to be a friend to others when I have abundance and help others to be there for me when I am depleted. Thank You Jesus for being the Ultimate Friend.