When Life is Hard: Thoughts on Failure

Some days in life are just so stinkin’ hard. The most difficult part of hard days is the part I play in them. The failures that are mine, all mine. If I have twenty balls up in the air and manage to keep ten of them up, hoorah for me! But still I drop the other ten.

Every once in a while failure backs me into a little corner. Then, like Poe’s Montresor, it builds its wall about me in the catacombs of my soul. Failure hangs a mirror on the bricks in front of my imprisoned heart and laughs. There you are… see what you have become. Failure! Requiescat In Pace!

That would be the end of me, I think, if Someone didn’t come along with reliably perfect consistency and unlock those chains and remove the mirror and the walls. He always comes. I know He is coming. And I wait.

Some days He waits longer than others to make Himself known and it is hard. I wake in the morning and Failure is there mocking me. I turn out the light and see it, trowel in hand, building the wall of my demise. But I rise anyway. I work anyway, step by step. I pray anyway, dry and cold. And wait on the Lord.

There are days when He comes like a whisper and nurses me back to life. Child, you are broken. I will carry you today. At other times He comes to correct and chastise… refining me, reminding me, that true love is not a flicker but a blaze! Get up! It is time to walk! I will stand with you… but you must rise. If I can only place pressure on the bottom of my feet He accepts that small fiat and carries me again.

What does it mean to lay down one’s life? Many holy men and women have illuminated the hearts and minds of the faithful on the subject. Christ Himself went to the Cross to show us. But on those days, when Failure tries to destroy me, I have no understanding of the ways of the saints and I can hardly see His face at it’s height on the cross beam. With the little will that remains in me, I lay aside myself and offer everything, everything to Him… which is nothing really but a tiny flame that was His all along anyway.

You gave me life, Lord. You made me beautiful in your image. You knew I would falter and still, you created me. That mysterious Love… reason enough to wait upon You when my body and mind are impatient for an end. I know You will come. And I press on for You and for Love.

Love comes and I collapse into His arms, exhausted and suffering. What is it about me that keeps You returning? Don’t You see what I am? 

No, Daughter… I see WHO you are… and that is enough. I will always come for you. I will always carry you. Do not be afraid.

I used to count my failures, convinced that by identifying and detailing them that I could overcome them bit by bit. Instead of whittling them down, I have seen them multiply. And my trust has multiplied. And my joy. And my peace of mind and heart. Funny. Funny how God sometimes works in ways that defy human reason…

For the hardest days are the ones in which I shout “Yes, I can!” and quickly find out that I cannot. This humility is one of the greatest blessings of my life for it brings me to His Heart again and again. But humanly speaking… it is hard.

The ignorance of this truth, that the ways of God are very different from our ways, is the cause of much confusion for the soul. Every time we suffer a calamity in our spiritual life, we grow alarmed and think we have lost our way. For we have fancied an even road for ourselves, a footpath, a way strewn with flowers. Hence, upon finding ourselves in a rough way, one filled with thorns, one lacking all attraction, we think we have lost the road; whereas it is only that the ways of God are very different from our ways.

Sometimes the biographies of saints tend to foster this illusion; that is, when they do not fully reveal the profound story of those souls, or when they disclose it only in a fragmentary manner, selecting solely the attractive and pleasing features. They call our attention to the hours that the saints spent in prayer, to the generosity with which they practiced virtue, to the consolations they received from God. We see only what is shining and beautiful and we lose sight of the struggles, darknesses, temptations, and falls through which they passed. And we think like this: “Oh, if I could live as those souls! What peace, what light what love was theirs!” Yes, that is what we see, but if we would look deeply into the hearts of the saints, we would understand that the ways of God our not our ways. ~ Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, Secrets of the Interior Life

Melody is a Catholic mama joyfully seeking truth, sanctity and a clean kitchen amidst the hustle and bustle of her full house. A happy wife and homeschooling mother of six, she is devoted to her vocation while finding bits of time for a few happy distractions. How does a Catholic homeschooling mother manage faith, family, education, creative pursuits, fitness and fellowship? The calendar is set. The reality is flexible. The days are colorful. The dishes are piling. The children are blossoming. The Lord is merciful. Blessed be the Lord! You can share in Melody’s journey of hope and joy at her blog, Blossoming Joy: A Journal of Home Education, Christian Womanhood and the Pursuit of Sanctity.
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