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What happens when you fail?

25 May

Failure. Not sure anyone enjoys failure. I mean, we all know we will fail in life at some point. Some of us, more than others. But, if we know that failure will come, the more important question to ask is, what will we DO with our failure? What will we do when we fail?

For some people, it’s as easy as dusting off the old hands & moving on to the next thing. For others, it’s a bit more redundant…they keep doing the same thing over & over again. Failing each time. Possibly succeeding at the same thing they’ve been doing so many times. And for some, failure devastates them. It crushes them. So much that they are afraid to ever try again. At anything.

 

“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.” ~Chinese Proverb

 

For years, I would try so hard to be the best at whatever I did that failure just wasn’t something that happened to me. Or so I thought. I guess every time I would “catch wind” of my impending defeat, I would stop doing whatever I was doing & reside from the process. I figured if I just “quit”, then it wouldn’t count as failure. If I just gave up, I could find some excuse for why I wasn’t interested in that route anymore. So, in my mind, I never failed. I just conveniently quit.

 

To fail is a natural consequence of trying. To succeed takes time & prolonged effort in the face of unfriendly odds. To think it will be any other way, no matter what you do, is to invite yourself to be hurt & to limit your enthusiasm for trying.

~David Viscott

 

Sure, there are plenty of things I have succeeded at. We all have accomplished something in our lives. No matter how big or small…successes are around us. However, when I look at what I have succeeded in…they are things that I could do. Yes, they were things that I knew if I just made up my mind, I had a decent amount of talent to succeed at. But, the things I quit? Ugh, they were things that I knew I couldn’t do. At least not on my own. You see, I have this problem with being in control of myself & my world. I surround myself with activities & concepts that I WILL succeed at. I create my own “challenges” for myself…but if I am painfully honest; my challenges are built on what I know I truly can do in the first place.

So, where does this leave me? What does this mean for someone like me? The answer? I DON’T KNOW. Yes, Staci, for once in her life doesn’t have an answer. I am terrified. Honestly, I am frustrated, ashamed, angry at the lies I have been telling myself all these years. Don’t get me wrong, what I have been successful doing…I really enjoy & has been extremely meaningful. But, the problem with this realization is that I feel like I am starting all over again. I feel like I did after I turned 18 &  moved out of my parents’ house. The potential for success, greatness, uniqueness…it was at my fingertips. The world was mine to discover.  This time, however, I am looking out over my life & what is to come with a different reality. I now have a husband & 3 little children who need me as I need them. And this life; the opportunities for greatness in God…I want my whole family to be a part of something beautiful. What is to come…it isn’t just for me. It’s for all of us. It’s my way to give back to God…ALL of me. Not just my shortcomings, not just my control, not just my sorry realities. No, giving God the good in me, too. My talents. My passions. My everything.

You see, I have realized that failure isn’t about what I’ve failed at or where I’ve fallen from. It is about what I do after I have failed or fallen. We all know what the fate would be for a baby who never got back up when he fell as he was learning to walk.  He would never experience a life of new opportunity. He would never experience a different perspective. We all know that it would be no fun to crawl on our hands & knees through the rough terrain…the rocky areas. Nor would it be very fun to always experience all life has to offer & the beauty of it crawling with our heads down. But, how often do we choose to crawl? How often do we stop trying…not realizing that if we just kept trying…we’d be able to walk & experience a whole new perspective for life? We need strength & a steady footing to get through the rough patches &  difficulties in life.  As well as strength to fully enjoy the best things in life. We will never learn how to be strong if we just give up. We will never learn who we are if we never try.

So, in celebration of my 33rd birthday today, I am letting go. I will do all that I can to allow God to make me who he wants me to be. Not who I think I should be or who I think I could  be for that matter. I’ve got to be honest enough to admit that who I am right now & who I’ve become isn’t working anymore. And what a beautiful birthday gift I am giving to myself. More God…less of me. 🙂

“My imperfections & failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes & my talents & I lay them both at his feet.” ~Ghandi

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My Last Day Here.

20 May

It is Friday, May 20, 2011.

Today started just like any other day. I woke up to the sound of my daughter whispering, “M–O–M”…”can you get me something to e-e-e-e-at?” My children seem to use whining in all of their sentences. Or at least the prolonged endings of words that seem like whining. I rolled my tired self over to the edge, getting up way too fast, which then causes me to get dizzy…so I have my morning pause on the side of the bed so I don’t pass out.

The roaring of little feet go running down the steps & before I can ask what she wants, my little girl (#3) is holding a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in front of her face…shaking the box loudly to say, “I want this!!” I try to muster a smile, but instead, I’m saying “SSSSHHHHHH!” so she doesn’t wake up the other beasts upstairs. (Big sister (#1) gets cranky if she gets up too early!!) I pour her some cereal & scroll through Netflix quickly for her to watch something. She decides on “Hello, Kitty”, and I slowly trudge back up the stairs. I crawl back into bed & pull the covers over my head; hoping to eliminate the blasting light coming in through the window & eliminate any sounds that may carry up the hallway from “Hello, Kitty” downstairs.

I sleep for another 25 minutes until #1 has to get up & get ready, meanwhile, Brother (#2) has already made his way downstairs to join #3. It’s the same old picking out clothes, fusses & whines about the hairstyle I helped #1 with, packing up snacks & lunches & some hugs & kisses as my husband & #1 head out the door.

This is how my days begin. Every day. Except, obviously, my husband & #1 don’t leave for work & school on the weekends. 🙂

Tomorrow, May 21, 2011, is Judgement Day. Or Rapture Day. Or Going to Heaven Day. Or so some people think. Oh, wait, they are “Christian” people. You know, the people who claim to worship God & Jesus, most likely go to church, supposedly love people, give to charity, supposedly treat others with kindness & respect…you know…the “Perfect” ones. Those who can do NO wrong. Those who supposedly look down on “other” people who may not believe in Jesus or God. “THOSE” crazies. Or are they? Are “Christians” crazy? What is the definition of crazy? Or better yet, what is a definition of a Christian?

Definition of CRAZY

1
a : full of cracks or flaws : unsound <they were very crazy, wretched cabins — Charles Dickens> b : crooked, askew
2
a : mad, insane <yelling like a crazy man> b (1) : impractical <a crazy plan> (2) : erratic <crazy drivers> c : being out of the ordinary : unusual <a taste for crazy hats>
3
a : distracted with desire or excitement thrill-crazy mob> b : absurdly fond : infatuated <he’s crazy about the girl> c : passionately preoccupied : obsessed <crazy about boats>
 
 
Well, by looking at that definition, I’d say we’re all crazy to some degree. Wouldn’t you agree?
 
But, I know what you think. I know how it works. If someone believes in “something” that categorizes them, then THAT is crazy. THOSE people are the ones who can officially carry the label.  I get it. Yes, it makes sense. Crazy.
 
However, I was thinking this morning while I was getting ready about this whole May 21, 2011, “Judgement Day.” I couldn’t help but think about it. I mean, every person on the planet is probably thinking about it. What if they are right? What if they are wrong? Would I go to heaven? What if it ends up being a big joke? Bring on the “I told you so’s…”. Every single one of us has a stance on this so-called “Judgement Day”. I know we do because facebook & twitter are full of opinions & comments. My personal favorite was this one:
 
“To all those” Saved, Born Again, Better Thans” C YA ON SUNDAY!!!!”
 
WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Hold on just a New York minute!!! This is where my mind started brewing & rumbling around about what this supposed “Judgement Day” is doing to people! It is making people turn against one another. It is making people scoff at one another. It is throwing out respect for other people. It is in essence saying,
 
“If YOU claim that the rapture or Judgement Day is happening tomorrow, YOU are a crazy. But, wait. I won’t stop there. ANYONE who loves God or loves Jesus is crazy. Looney! See…they are ALL the same!!! Even those who don’t believe the Rapture is happening tomorrow! You all worship the same so-called God. What a joke! How foolish are you! You have ZERO credibility in my book if you are religious or claim to be born again/saved, etc. What a worthless, waste of time those people are!! Fools!!”
 
This is where it get’s dicey for me. (Yes, it is the year 2011 & I just said “dicey”) Why are Christians all lumped together into ONE category? Why if I believe in Jesus & God do I get categorized into the same big pool of Christians regardless of how fanatical or misguided some people are? No matter what philosophies they hold? No matter what goes on in their little “groups” of so-called church? Even if it is definitely not biblical? WHY?
 
When we lump all people who say they believe in Jesus as being “Christian” & then when one denomination of supposed Christianity messes up or gets all insane or cultish…why are we all penalized? It’s like saying that all Islam believers are terrorists. When we clearly know that is not true.
 
 So what is true? Who is right? What is fair to say? Why does Christianity have such a large umbrella overhead that supposedly holds everyone who says God exists underneath it?
 
I personally, have NO idea if this group of Judgement Day people are correct. I have never even heard of them prior to just a few days ago. I guess we’ll see tomorrow. Or will we? (sorry, I couldn’t help it) But, why is it that because one group of people claim this that people start taking a look around at the world & at themselves? And all of a sudden conjuring up such harsh feelings toward people we don’t even know or didn’t even know about a week ago? Why is it that because they “claim” something (even if it isn’t true) that the world thinks we can just bash them & ridicule them? Do people bash & ridicule you for what you choose to do?
 
Don’t we ALL carry claims with us? Don’t we ALL have so-called “signs” that we carry around? I mean, let’s be honest. If we don’t believe that tomorrow is the Rapture or Judgment Day, then we believe in something else, right? I think it is safe to say that many of us don’t think we’ll ever die. None of us would ever say that, because we know it is silly to say we’ll live forever, but many of us LIVE like we’ll never die. Indulging in unsafe, disgusting behavior. Filling our bodies with unhealthy amounts of food, drugs, alcohol. Neglecting our children. Abusing others. Ignoring that phone call from a friend because she talks too much & taking her phone call means you will be on the phone FOREVER so you tell yourself you’ll call her back tomorrow. Excusing any belief in God or Jesus as something that is for “fools”, when deep down, you wonder what DO you believe?
 
Really, people? Really?! You are NO better than those who claim tomorrow is Judgment Day. You think & believe you will ALWAYS have a tomorrow. You live it. You claim it. Because if every single one of us truly believed today was their last day, we would have a very different world. Families would be happier. Parents would spend more time with their children. Spouses would forgive each other & stay true to their vows. People wouldn’t lie, cheat or steal…I mean, who would want to die being known as a liar or thief? People may even truly take a look at their beliefs & if heaven & hell exist. They may just think a little deeper about God, Jesus & faith instead of laughing about it. Things would be very different. But, day after day, we go to sleep & we wake up putting off things we should do today for tomorrow because we just don’t believe today will be it for us. I’m just as guilty. I really am. There are days that I don’t always tell the truth. There are days when I don’t make the best decisions. But, I can’t walk around laughing & scoffing at someone else’s claims when my claim can sometimes be pretty absurd, too.
 
I believe in Jesus. I whole heartedly, 100% believe in Jesus. I believe that he died on the cross for my sins. I believe that I need to follow him & the way he lived. I believe that I need to share his love with others. Especially those who don’t deserve it. I believe that I need to love the poor & share the hope I have found with the world. Does that make me automatically insane or someone who thinks I am better than someone else? Truly, that is NOT the case. Maybe you have come across someone who did make you feel inferior & hurt you. And for that I am truly sorry. Or maybe you took your self questioning about your own beliefs & turned it into an offense because it was too painful to ask those deep questions within yourself? If I believe following Jesus is a decision I personally make, why would I think I am better than anyone else? OR does that make me the “same” as someone else who “claims” to love Jesus, but their life doesn’t seem to really line up with how he lived? Is that my place to judge? Are we in the same category? Can I say I love Jesus, but hate people around me? Can I say I follow Jesus & his love for the poor & walk by a bum on the street without even a glance? Can I say that I accept forgiveness from Jesus but I can’t accept forgiveness from my dad for the years of physical & emotional abuse I endured? Can I say that I believe only in God & worship nothing else but him if I have an enormous abundance of material possessions that are unnecessary–if I spend many of my waking hours planning vacations for myself, ridiculous amounts of shopping trips to the mall; do I worship things? What about fine-dining at the best restaurants in excess or over- indulging…eating until I am so full I can hardly breathe? What if I spend countless hours at my job while neglecting my family? Wouldn’t it be safe to say that I just might worship my job? Or that maybe I worship the success it brings? Maybe I worship the accolades I receive for being such a “hard worker”. I mean, what makes one claiming to be a Christian truly legit? Who are we?
 
Let’s be real people. We’re not all the same. Christianity isn’t a “one belief fits all” approach. I can tell all the people that I want to that I am anything I want to say I am or even “think” I am. But, we all know that evidence is what separates what one says they are from what they “actually” are. That age-old saying, “the proof is in the pudding”. Yep. It’s true for Christians, too. It’s not enough to say you “believe” in God or Jesus. It’s what happens in one’s daily life that confirms who one says they are. Anyone can smack a label on themself. Anyone can stand up & tell people what they are. They can even fool many people. And sadly, they can even fool themselves. And in the process, lead many, many people astray or just give them a reason to not want what you have because you are such a hypocrite.
 
The bottom line is this: No one. NONE of us can say with 100% certainty that these Judgment Day people are wrong. Nor, can we say with 100% certainty, that we are right! Because only God knows. Tomorrow will come. None of us can guarantee what will happen tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next day. Instead of spewing out hatred for all Christians or other groups of people & spending our time fighting & arguing, maybe we can begin to just worry about ourselves & if today was our last day, where would we go when we died? What would we leave behind? Would anyone remember us? What did we stand for? Did I do everything I possibly could to let those around me know I loved them? Did everyone around me know that I was a true, legit follower of Jesus? Did the people around me know that Jesus can save anyone, including them? And then what does that mean? How is that lived out?
 
It is a very challenging thought. As my day went on, I began to ask myself, “What if today WAS my last day?” From conversing with my children to doing my daily tasks…how do I want to live? How would I want to be remembered? Do people know how much I really love them? Do people really know how much I love Jesus & how much he has changed my life? Am I someone who truly reflects love & joy? If I am honest, most days, I don’t think I would pass the “last day” test. Oftentimes, I am cranky, complaining about something (like the weather) & just downright blah city. I’m not talking about living each day in complete fanatic behaviors (like quitting a job, saying my goodbyes, etc.) but just being someone who makes each day count. To lay my head on my pillow & truly know that I tried my best to love the way Jesus did. To know that I made a difference…even if just a little difference.
 
To know that my last day here was the best day of my life. Not necessarily just for myself, but for the people I am leaving behind.