When You Feel Like You've Failed…What Then?
Every morning now for the past few months, dishes stack in my sink. Some mornings they’re clean, some mornings they’re not. And somebody forgot to turn on the dishwasher. Me, I suppose, but I wonder if I’m the only one who knows how to work the thing. Pressing the right button is quite difficult, I surmise.
So I grumble over mess. Over extra work and noise and things missing or out of place. I could probably point out that the sun is shining through the window the wrong way if hard pressed to find a new complaint.
But it’s not any of these things, really, that have me in this tightly-wound, chest-constricting corner of my own design. It’s something deeper. A longing, a dream. Something I have held onto to for far too long. And I know it’s time. Time to let it go.
It’s been building a while now, I think, as I stir the oatmeal and wonder if I dare put this into words.
Words unspoken speak the loudest.
I thought this the other day. Thought on it a while and realized how true it is. How so many times we’re just afraid. Afraid to face our own feelings, let alone share them. Maybe sometimes that’s okay. Maybe there isn’t really anyone who’d understand. I feel like this a lot. People will listen. Empathize. But will they really know?
This thing I do. This daily wrestling of words and feelings and hard things that sometimes can’t be made sense of whichever way you write it down…this life-breathing gift that I have loved so long…it’s sucking life from me.
The thought slammed me like I’d run into a glass door, knowing it was there but for whatever reason, having momentarily forgotten.
These dreams I have…I’ve let them take over. I’ve fed them too long and now they are greedy and take more from me every day. More than I ever intended to give. And it’s time to let them go.
But you can’t quit, they say. You’ve worked so hard. So long. And you’re so good, so close…
That right there is like gold, but it’s dynamite. I grab hold for all it’s worth. I so want to believe it. To see this dream shoot off into the night sky like the fireworks we’re so often subjected to from the hotel we live beside. But…I wonder now if I’m looking at that dream all wrong. Fireworks don’t last. They cost a helluva lot of money, spent in light and smoke, gone in minutes.
It’s not about quitting. Not about giving up. Just…maybe…doing things differently.
We grow things. In the hot months it takes time and you have to remember to water what you plant. But they’re still growing despite the few days off and on where nobody did…
I planted seeds. Seeds that seem to be thriving and offering the hope of a small harvest. But then there were the sunflowers…
They are my favorite flower. They’re easy to grow. They can withstand the heat, and they are majestic and tall and proud in their glorious display of bobbing yellow heads under bright blue sky.
Time to get out of this funk, I told myself. Time to plant sunflowers.
So I did.
A whole packet of them. Rows around the roses in my little courtyard. I watered and waited. And waited.
One seed sprouted out of the entire packet I painstakingly planted in the ground. Even my screaming back the next day did not deter me because I knew how glorious the end result would be.
Will it even survive? If it grows, will it bloom? Will it satisfy me or will I continue to lament over all the others that did not?
Maybe I should give up planting sunflowers. Or maybe, next time, I should put the seeds into pots first. Water and care for them until they sprout, and then plant them in the ground.
Do things differently.
But oh, I’m stubborn and willful and so resistant to change. You know? This season of waiting has been that much more difficult because I wanted it so badly. I wanted answers to come quickly and I allowed the stress of the not knowing to become all-consuming. Life stealing.
And then you wake up one day and say enough.
If I have failed, it was not for lack of trying.
But I know now, the bigger failure would be to ignore this beauty. This life I have been given. Whatever else may or may not come from these dreams I planted so long ago, is not for me to say. But I will plant seeds again.
I will nurture them and watch them grow, but I won’t hold on too tight.
I will leave room to breathe.
And to grow.
As He intended me to do.