Thursday, February 4, 2010

FAIL (for lack of a good quote)

The Internet is down so I can't find a random quote today. Instead I shall meditate a bit on failure. My apologies for something potentially a bit too introspective!

I'm not one of those people who can trip down a stairway and create a new acclaimed dance as a result. But nor am I the type who walks into a room and the floor disintegrates under her feet.

My life has been full of its share of both accomplishments and disappointments. But overall, I have generally felt like what I was doing was enough. I may not be a diva nor the first woman president of the United States, but I have a good degree, have a few useful skills and eventually was able to find a decent job. Even during the long months, which turned into years, of job hunting and failing, I felt confident that I was in the right place, that I was trying and that good was coming out of the situation. A power beyond mine would take care of the details. My angst had more to do with curiosity about what and when would happen, than it did with my confidence in my ability to offer something.

Ironically, now that I'm working and doing a job I very much like and desire to perform well in, I seem to struggle a lot with failure. Back in Timor, I remember that I went to my yoga class right after I was offered this assignment in Indonesia. I'd been robbed two days previously, I knew my housemates weren't happy, and I was exhausted. This job offer was a perfectly timed gift, but I sat there in class, posing and stretching, unable to keep the tears from my eyes. I had failed. I was going to leave Timor in disgrace, not in triumph. Sure, some things had gone right, and my colleagues appreciated me enough to recommend me for a new and exciting assignment, but overall, I thought to myself, "wow. I really feel like a failure."

This wasn't the low point. It got a lot worse and by the time I left Timor for good, I'd failed a lot more, and a lot worse. And the feeling has followed me. I'm second-guessing everything I do and worrying that I am doing things all wrong. That my next step will be the one that causes everything to unravel. And while I have had some lovely moments here in Indonesia, I certainly couldn't say I have performed perfectly by any means.

Today I was walking, as I try to do every day, towards the sunset. I was thinking about the decisions I've made recently and wondering whether I had done well enough or not. Even if I could convince myself intellectually that I am succeeding, my heart still screamed "failure!!!"

Then it hit me: I have spent a lifetime learning to attribute everything good that happens in my life to God. All my successes belong to God, don't they? Sometimes I live that better than others, but deep down I know it to be true. So why am I owning my failures? Surely, barring any attempts I may make to rebel against God, he allows me to fail when he chooses to allow it. Maybe he even orchestrates failures. So I should get over myself. Pride about success is no worse than pride about failure. Trust and give it up.

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