when you drop the ball, then pick it up again

Monday, May 5, 2014

Creative Commons - Love From Ginger
When you're interviewing for a job, you always tell stories that paint the picture you want to create.  When they ask about flaws, for example, you pick the flaws that highlight what a good employee you are.  "I have to be careful not to bring my work home," maybe, rather than (and this would be the truth for me), "I am ten minutes late everywhere I go."  You make sure the story you're telling helps you get the job.

Writing is (or, it can be) the same way.  When people share faults, they share the faults they have already accepted in themselves.  They tell the cute kind of embarrassing stories, and avoid tales of real humiliation.  Even in our honesty, we share the truth in a certain light, and make sure it catches us at a good angle.  We don't share our current mess.

But this story does not catch my best light.  Even if this one episode is over, it will probably happen again.  Believe me, I would love to not share this particular angle with the big wide world.  But if I avoid it, I paint a reality that is not fully honest.  And I let you feel like the kid in the back of class who can never quite get her act together.  Maybe it would be easier, but there's no grace in that light.  That's not where I want to live.

I had quite a week.  My entire household came down with the same ugly virus on Monday night.  It was the kind of night that will go down in family history.  Symptoms lasted less than 24 hours, but the lethargy and lack of appetite has continued throughout the week.  In other words, I have been tired, slightly queasy, and hungry - but nothing sounds good - for six days.  Trying to clean up after, care for, entertain, and (have mercy) feed four children who also were lethargic, slightly queasy, and hungry - but nothing sounds good - for six very long days.

I did not do it alone.  My husband was a saint, cleaning up after sick kids when I was unable to move and bleaching the whole world afterwards.  He too has been lethargic all week.  And by Saturday, we were all over it.  We were tired of feeling sick, sick of whiny children, whining at the thought of ever feeding anyone again.  Over. It.

But this weekend was important.  This weekend marks one year since my husband's accident.  My family honors important days, and for weeks we've been talking about what to do for this one.  My son, the one who was with my husband when it happened, asked if we could have a party.  "For the life Dad kept when he had his wreck," he said.  Celebrating the life his dad kept made a lot of sense to me, so we made a plan.   Last year he was injured on Saturday, May 4.  This year my husband wanted to go on Saturday (May 3), at the same time, to the same bike park, then out to our favorite restaurant.  He needed it, I needed it, the kids needed it.   It was an important thing to do.

Now, there's a little lie that lives in my head. That lie says, "My best is not good enough."  In general, I am a hard worker.  I am tenacious to a fault, and usually I'm able to make the best out of almost situation.  But that little lie, when it takes over, will completely eat my will to go on.  When I believe that lie, I give up.

And that little lie?  Showed up yesterday morning.

I looked around at the messy house, the whiny children, the not-quite-right feeling in my stomach, and the sheer Sisyphean force of caring for sick kids all week, and I heard it as clearly as if someone had said it aloud.  "You worked hard all week.  You did your best.  And it wasn't good enough."

And I gave up.

I climbed into bed, put on my headphones, and turned on Netflix.  I just gave up.  When my husband asked if I was ready to go to the bike park I said I wasn't going anywhere, and I clicked on the next episode.  The going got rough, and on a very important day, I folded.

For about three hours.  Then I got up, cleaned the kitchen, put toys away, came to my senses.  Only by then it was too late.  Saturday afternoon had already happened, and I couldn't undo what I'd done.

After a couple of hours, I understood my own mind well enough to share it.  I apologized to my husband.  It had been important to him to go at that time, and I'd bailed.  I can't fix that.  But I can still honor an important day in the life of our family, I can still celebrate the life my husband kept last May 4.  I asked him if I could make it better - not right, completely, but better - by having our party the next day.

So this morning, I skipped church, made a chocolate cake, and spent the morning outside with my family.  After naps, we scooped babies out of their beds and drove over to the bike park.  We rode our bikes, took pictures, and remembered.  Then we went to our favorite restaurant.  We ate our first good meal in a week, and we celebrated the life my husband kept a year ago on this day.

In many ways, the events of this weekend reflect the best of what we learned this past year.  In the past I would have put all of my energy into denial.  It wasn't my fault, I didn't give up, I can't help it if I was sick, I would have repeated.  I would have lived out the old lie, accepted the old pattern. But I'm honest now - honest with myself, honest with the people around me, honest with you.  When I am honest, I can recognize the old lie for what it is, and I can genuinely apologize to my husband.  When he accepts me for who I am, and not only for who I should be, he can forgive me and offer the grace for me to make amends.

We are not the same people we were a year ago.  We are stronger in some ways, weaker in others, but we are not the same. Today, I thank God for important days, for the freedom honesty and acceptance have brought into our lives, and for the grace to try again.


  1. Apologizing and really meaning it is SO freeing! I never would've believed it until I started practicing it (you know, most of the time) but when you've screwed up and you can go to the person and ask for forgiveness and they can forgive and everyone really means it, it's one of the best things in life if you ask me. True forgiveness. Because then we can move on to the celebrating, amen?

  2. Thank you for sharing and for your openness! What a great example for your kids - showing them that bad days and bad decisions don't have to be the end to the situation. There is always room for forgiveness and making things better with those we love and those that love us!



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