“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” – Abraham Lincoln

It’s been a long time friends.  Last time we spoke I was wide-eyed and ready to enter the school year as a student.  I ordered books, and started classes. Suddenly my already full daily life became alarmingly busy as I balanced having carpool, work, three different pick ups, sports, clinic hours, class hours, and studying, so much studying. The busier I got, the less I was sleeping, and there are seriously weeks this fall I do not remember. The more I tried to “do it all,” the less I remember.

In retrospect it wasn’t the best time to go back to school — this past year has been a roller coaster. There has been so much heart ache in every facet of our family. I’ve had a sick parent. I’ve had a parent lose everything. A terrible disease almost stole someone I love. My sweet Aunt with the heart of gold went to be with Jesus.  And my brother-in-law continues to fight in the hospital after 86 days.  But through the heart ache there’s been the exhilaration of bright moments.  Light peeking through the darkness, shades of grace in the ugliest times, and glimpses of hope.  So much hope washing over us in the most uncertain times.

And that uncertainty fed my own insecurity.  I began to worry about the what if’s? What would I do when the kids are older…What would I do if something happened to DYP… What if we somehow lost everything?  I started becoming so immersed in these thoughts, and in my own grief about my kids growing up…that I went back to school, because we’d talked about it. At the time I didn’t really think about it. So what if it wasn’t my dream or what I thought I was called to? The what if’s had become all consuming.  I could taste the anxiety from the moment I woke up until I went to bed. So, I just closed my eyes trying to jump away from all the insecurity and anxiety – And jumped right into one more thing. A big thing.

The thing about doing something if you haven’t really prayed about it, is it isn’t always where you’re meant to be.

Instead of jumping in and coming to the surface, I barely was able to get a gulp of air before going back down.  One of my classes was  straightforward, I try hard – I work hard. The other class? First off hardly anyone laughed at my jokes. I worked so hard. I would study for hours…but then I failed a test.  The following week? I failed another.  I would spend hours studying and when I would look at the words they would all jumble in front of my eyes.  I cried almost everyday, whether it was from seeing another failing grade or wracking my brain trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.

One night as I sat at the kitchen table books and piles of note cards spread out before me, I could hear the hum of my husband’s voice as he read to our kids. It was during one of the hardest weeks my brother-in-law had had, and I had another test the next day.  All I wanted was to be upstairs snuggled with my family. I hadn’t really talked to my husband in weeks, and I wasn’t enjoying my beautiful amazing kids – I was tolerating them.    I began to cry as the words on the pages swam in front of my eyes, and all I could do was pray because I was not even treading water anymore. I couldn’t remember the last day I hadn’t cried, or felt like I was failing.

Failing.  Seemed to be the theme for my fall. I missed performances at my kids’ school. Failing. I forgot a birthday party Jonah was invited to. Failing. I ran out of gas.  Failing. I didn’t remember the last time I had sat down at night with my family, or worked out. I even forgot to wear mascara. Multiple times.  Fail.

And suddenly that night mixed in my tears was a little sprinkling of hope in a pretty little scripture I saw in the bible opened on the counter.  “I love you, Yahweh, my strength.  Yahweh is my rock and my fortress, my deliverer is my God. I take refuge in him, my rock, my shield, my saving strength, my stronghold, my place of refuge.” -Psalm 18:1-2

And I felt hope for my sister-in-law Susan and my brother-in-law Robert…and then I felt hope for me, in my life. In my failures: I realized that maybe, just maybe it was time to admit the obvious. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.  I’m not one of those people who can do it all. But when things have fallen a part: when our house burnt down, when 9/11 happened and Dyp didn’t receive two paychecks, when we lost Mary, there were always little sprinkles of hope. There were always little spots of light peeking through…because no matter how ugly things have been – our faith is a beautifully strong part of our life.  Because God has always provided us what we needed. Comfort.  Grace.  Hope.  Even a doctor to prescribe an antidepressant. And the shelter of my faith helped me to right then close the books, and lay down with my family. It allowed me to long after my kids fell asleep to press my face into my husband’s neck and admit, “I can’t do this anymore. I miss you. You are my dream.”

The next day was the first test I took that I didn’t fail.

And now in retrospect I see things that were once blurry…all growing up in school I had to try really hard to do well. I wasn’t a natural really at anything, except being blonde. I failed at auditions much more than I ever got parts.  It took me a long time to make good friends.  I even had to work hard to convince DYP to fall in love with me, when I knew I was going to marry him the moment I met him.  I only work at WW because I fought hard to lose the weight, and I have worked hard to finish every half marathon I’ve done.  But I also have never taken for granted any moment of my life. Even the failures, because they are gold blog material…they meant I was living. And in those months trying to do it all, I was failing because I wasn’t living…I’d forgotten to even value my own well being, that I was worthy enough to remember my own value, even in failure.

So one term in, I’m out. I’m taking a big step back from school.  I’m back to being a Mom, writing, and being there for the people around me.  I’m back to being my husband’s girlfriend. Back to returning phone calls and being a friend. Back to working out and taking care of myself.  Back to working at the important things that are worth it to me to work hard at even if I fail. The what if’s aren’t important.  What is important is beautiful stuff that comes from making it through the ugly.  Life should never just be tolerated.

Funny how when you think you’re following your dream, you realize you were already living it…Funny how I had to fail to realize it. Funny how content and blessed I was to fail.

ps. please keep my brother-in-law in your prayers for healing, and for hope for us all.