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Failure isn’t fatal

It’s fortunate.

It tells us

we have reached the point

where we can no longer continue without change,

without a new approach,

a new learning.

We have reached the limit of

our current ability.

It gives us a measure

of where we are today, and

how far we’ve come.

It is a limit without limiting,

a boundary without bounding.

To the extent we can see beyond our point of failure,

it shows us what we can be,

what we might be,

if we commit ourselves to

being better,

by doing better,

because we know better is out there

calling to us.

It doesn’t taunt or tease.

It bows our head in defeat

showing us

the line

we stand on

is the starting line.

What are you prepared to do?

What you’re gonna do is written all over your face. Who are you kidding? Other than yourself.

Perhaps it has come from being in the fitness and motivation business for a long time, but I know whether you are going to follow through on your discipline or not. I can tell, just by looking.

IMG_1093Oh, finishers and the also-rans may both have purchased new sneakers or new workout shorts or a new swim suit. They may have both invested in some new gear, perhaps hand weights or a yoga mat or even large scale exercise equipment. But that doesn’t spell success. In fact, often the biggest spenders are the least compliant. They have fulfilled their responsibility (in their own mind) by making the purchase. As if to say, “See, I mean business. Look what I am willing to spend.”

No, people who will follow through come prepared. They may bring a pencil and paper to write down the workout. Or they have scheduled several sessions or cleared their schedule many weeks in advance. They have told others what they are planning. In short, it’s obvious their heart is in this.

I love those people. They are great to work with. The others…well, I feel like I am stealing from them. Perhaps even complicit in a lie they aren’t telling me, but I know. And this doesn’t come from reading their minds. It’s just apparent in how they behave.

How incredibly obvious must this be to God? When our behavior tells the truth while our mouths deceive. We act according to our heart condition even while our speech is conflicting? God knows our hearts. He reads them as He reads our minds.

Jesus said to them,“You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. ~ Luke 16:15

His discipline is designed to get us to agree with ourselves. To look at doing, our failures and successes, and see if we aren’t tripping ourselves up. Not because we’re “not trying hard enough” but because our hearts aren’t on board. God knows our hearts. He wants our hearts. So our lives would be complete truth.

I look at the successful people I know and they come prepared. They do the homework and bring their questions. They’re engaged in the process and leave with a plan for the next step. They’re on the success path. It isn’t an accident. They do it on purpose.

And there may be no money involved at all. This counts as much for relationships and family life as it does for Fortune 500 companies. For sports teams and pick up games as much as for small businesses. We come prepared for the things we intend to follow through on. If we don’t, we need to ask ourselves whether our heart is really in this. Because it’s obvious to everyone else.

We may scurry through life hoping to live in a way that “qualifies us” for the heavenly selection. pick me! pick me! But I expect that God, who knows my heart, knows good and well whether I am ready. He has told me to be prepared, in season and out of season. Because I won’t know when the time is coming. He knows that is the only way to live a consistent life. Heart, mind and body together toward one objective.

When we falter, that’s just God getting our attention: Hey, your heart’s not in that! Then we have to choose whether we will prepare our heart or not. The rest will follow.

failing my way to success

Yesterday, I received notification that the proposal for my book had been rejected. Nope. Not gonna happen. Not now. Not by that publisher.

I had inquired earlier in the day, dredging up my courage to ask, even if the news was not good news. The response came:

I checked with the editor and he was finishing up the process of reviewing your manuscript.  I have attached the letter that he was going to mail to you today. I wish you the very best of luck in finding a publisher for your book.

While I would have done cartwheels and somersaults, had my proposal been accepted, I read this news without surprise. The actual editor’s letter shed light on other books which are similar in an over-crowded market. In other words, I was writing what had already been well-covered; they can only invest time and money in projects that bring new ideas. That makes sense. It’s what I’ve done all  my writing life, though. Write what I need to write, albeit not necessarily saying something new. The editor gave me credit for presenting it in a new way. But a publisher cannot invest in old. He’s looking for new.

Pouring old wine into new wine skins, just doesn’t bode well for sales.

Still, a rejection hurts. Hurt is funny. It’s something very difficult to describe but quite easy to remember, if you’ve been hurt before. And this “no” feels very familiar. It feels like when my obstetrician said, “It’s another girl.”

I already had two daughters. I guess I must have been secretly hoping for a boy, but that would not be politically correct or something anyone should admit, so I hadn’t admitted it to myself. I smiled and nodded. And then went to the mall.

I’m not much of a shopper really, but I walked and walked. Thought about my mother who done this right, a boy and a girl. Salt and pepper shakers, a complete set. I was surprised at the loss I felt. Of the son I would never have. This, you see, would be our last child. It was time. My husband and I had decided this. Would I always feel incomplete?

No one could know (though now, you reading this do know) that I had hoped for a boy. In fact, I didn’t even know it, until it wasn’t, and then I did. And as I walked, an amazing thing happened. I healed. really, in the scheme of the universe this was an exceedingly quick turn around! I said goodbye to what wouldn’t be and welcomed in the little girl who would be.

And, in December of the coming year, I got to meet her. She was gorgeous and precious and blond and beautiful.

I never thought again of the little boy who wasn’t. Until yesterday. When I was rejected. Until I accepted the news that what I had hoped for would not come to pass. But look, God seemed to say, we are doing something new!

Isn’t it amazing that God can prepare us for “bad news” so far in advance. Even allowing us to recall the moment and the hurt, how it felt and how we dealt with it. And then, let it founder all these years (16 to be exact) in order to resurface at the opportune time.

I know this feeling. It is not death. It is life. Life within me, meant to live and breathe and find its way in the world. As this book will. In its own time. In its own way.

God is so very, very gracious.

He even included His signature. The editor’s letter was penned for the very day I inquired. What are the chances? Then the man who really did write the book on this accepted my linked in inquiry immediately. Then, this morning a dear friend of many, many years ago tapped me to connect with him on linked in. His last name: Christ.

How obvious can God be? He has promised:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

A future we can’t write but we can count on to be better than we ever imagined. Prosperous doesn’t mean we get what we want every time. That’s greedy. Prospering us just means that we come out of each hardship better equipped for the work that lay ahead.

Thank you, Lord, for your providence. I feel very, very blessed today. I have never felt quite so successful. In loss there is, indeed, great gain. In death, there is life. That’s really hard to believe, but today I understand it as completely as I ever have. Your grace is surely sufficient.

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