The words themselves evoke sadness but the story it tells is all but sad. When I was younger I remember looking upon failure as something that would be humiliating and crushing. In our youth we strive to reach the top and avoid the pitfalls along the way. Skip forward 20 years and failure has been my greatest friend and teacher.
Growing up I avoided dreaming big. I didn’t want to be disappointed. I really didn’t see myself as having the ability to do more than get married (God willing) and have kids. (The greatest accomplishment and joys in my life I must say!) But the concept I could pursue personal dreams, have a successful job and make an impact on anyone wasn’t even a thought. If it was a thought, it was quickly squashed by my other thoughts of not being worthy, capable, or enough. I guess you could say I had really low self esteem. Internally I was a ‘woe is me’ girl (which still rears its ugly head). Not only did I not aim high, I just didn’t aim at all. Until.
It’s amazing how powerful we are as human beings. Did you know we have the ability to influence those around us? (read here) It wasn’t until I was in my early 30’s that fact clicked with me. I was the recipient of someone who said ‘have you ever thought about’, and ‘I think you would be good at’, along with ‘I believe in you’. Just a small nudge unleashed a 15 year journey into leadership development and organizational management. I returned to college to finish the degree I started (after having the twins!) and decided the risk of failing was worth not trying at all.
I began dreaming. I think we can all agree that 2020 has knocked the wind out of us at times and slapped us around a bit. Learning to surrender (read here) has been a forced lesson of sorts. For many of you, like me, we lost our jobs (read here) and in the moment of believing we were living our best lives, things didn’t just fail, but shattered. I sat in sadness and disbelief of it all for a while. The process of processing was necessary and painful. Yet through it all, God spoke loud and clear! (He had my undivided attention.) What I thought was lost wasn’t really lost at all but was about to be found. I needed to take some of my own advice (read here) and realized God didn’t give me the gifts, experiences and dreams for one adventure. He expects me to use them even in the midst of shattered dreams. I read this week a quote that explains so well where I am at today.
“Shattered dreams open the door to better dreams, dreams that we do not properly value until the dreams that we improperly value are destroyed. Shattered dreams destroy false expectations, such as the “victorious” Christian life with no real struggle or failure (or the perfect marriage without work). They help us discover true hope. We need the help of shattered dreams to put us in touch with what we most long for, to create a felt appetite for better dreams. And living for the better dreams generates a new, unfamiliar feeling that we eventually recognize as joy. Our pain will always have a purpose. It will not go away, but it will do its work. It will stir an appetite for a higher purpose – the better hope of knowing God well enough now to love him above everything else…and trusting him no matter what happens.”– Dr. Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams.
What I once thought might be the greatest contribution in my work life is now replaced by God saying, it was an improperly valued dream. God doesn’t want us to be limited to one adventure. He wants us to dream big again and again. So that is what I’m doing. Dreaming, creating and finding so much joy in the process. I now have hope in my next adventure. I also am acutely aware it could fail. And I’m okay with that because if you don’t try, you will never know what you might have missed out on.
Living day to day-
I’m 1 in 8 and 1 in 4. Something I don’t think about daily anymore. It was something I thought about hourly for a while. This week I have seen so much awareness for infertility and infant loss. Something I am very familiar with. Some details have faded but the memory of the feelings don’t. My first miscarriage came after we had our first child Morgan. New Year’s day I went to the hospital in immense pain knowing I was pregnant. I quickly learned the pregnancy was ectopic and had ruptured in my tube. I was rushed to surgery and in a blur was released the same day to go home. Three hundred and 364 days later, Katie was born. I’m not lost on the timing or the way this part of my year was bookended. What started with the greatest loss in my life at this point, ended with one of the greatest joys.
After we had Katie, we needed a break. She was spit fire and 100% energy. When we did decide to try for one more, we instead lost three in a row. Crushing blow after blow. To complicate the whole thing we almost always had to use fertility drugs to get pregnant. The routine had become familiar but the emotional rollercoaster was draining and expensive. When I had lost all hope, Ryan said, “let’s try one more time”. My reply was, “you better make it a good one”, too which we now see the results of our twins, Gabby and Izzy.
A big part of my story after I had Katie was finding like minded friends. Moms in the same season, going through the same thing. None of us had it all figured out but we were doing our best or wanting to do our best. Those friends in that season were the hands and feet of Jesus for me. They jumped in with flowers and meals during those losses. They knew I would be sad and loved me anyway. Their company was a soft place to fall when everything else around me seemed to be spinning. Those women knew me and my desire to have more children and walked the journey with me.
We each have a story about how we became a mom and the variations are all different. Being a mom in and of itself is a binding factor. It might be through adoption, through In vitro, through a surrogate or all natural childbirth. Mine included an ambulance ride, emergency c-sections and long stays in hospitals. (That’s the part I leave out when talking to a pregnant mommy!) But it is all what makes us a mom. The joy, the pain, the love and the loss.
You have a story too. One day God might place on your heart to share your story in just the right moment when a friend needs help and encouragement. How to love someone through loss is hard, but what an opportunity you have to love and minister to someone who doesn’t know Jesus or the hope he can bring them. They just might need a little help learning how to share their story too.
Reflecting day to day-