It has been one of those weeks. Even as I write these words, I am frantically grasping to recall the “eloquence” I composed where most great ideas come to me—in the shower. Naturally, they have all fled my grasp by the time I emerge. (I really ought to let Tex install that white board he threatened to put up in there.)
My first failure of the week was a few days ago, when my heart and mind were overflowing with Longing—that Lewisian Longing described in “The Weight of Glory:” “. . . this desire for our own far-off country. . . We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name.” I sat down and tried to put into words what I was feeling, and all I could get out were a few stilted stutterings that completely missed the essence of what I wanted to say.
Then yesterday I got very excited because I discovered that a local pastor in our denomination has created a publishing imprint. Stars erupted in my eyes like fireworks as I heard that magical word Published! ring in my ears. Yet as I read about it, my mind began to fill with doubts: What makes you think you are gifted enough to write? Just look at Leeana and Heather—they are so much more talented than you. Are you really sophisticated enough to write something worthy to be published? And doubt piled upon doubt until I was buried alive under them all.
And then I tread back down the worn, familiar path from childhood, the one spent sitting alone at every recess, taking refuge in writing poetry. (Yes, you read that right. And I wondered why I didn’t have many friends.) I start to fret about interacting with people and fearing that I will unknowingly do or say something inept that will make people dislike me. Sometimes it seems like I wear my social awkwardness like a burka that hides me from those I want to know. I immobilize myself in the chains of comparison: surely she finds so-and-so more interesting than me.
Then comes the full weight of all my perceived inaequacies bearing down on me. How every day feels like a battle to beat back the chaos that threatens to overwhelm. How some days I forget to check the kids’ schoolwork. How I fail to finish the books I begin to read, and how am I supposed to record that on Goodreads? It’s not finished, but I don’t want to put it back in To Read; I really ought to make an Unfinished Shelf and flaunt my failures to the world.
Yet then I recognize that to wallow in this is sin. For if I am inadequate, Who made me that way? And who am I to say that He created me poorly? And I see, as Paul reminds, that this is not about me, but about Him. I must go beyond thinking solely about myself and become transparent, like a window, so that who people see is not me, but Him.
I think about a friend who is likely the wisest, most compassionate, most grace-filled woman I know, and I wonder that she calls me friend. I think of how she radiates the love of Christ, and how she told me that God uses both our failures and our strengths to make us who He wants us to be. I remember how she gives voice to her fears and weaknesses, and I know I am not alone. In fact, I must be in very good company. We are all a little more or less inadequate, and maybe some of us are more aware of it than others, but there is Deeper Truth we need to know beyond that.
To my friends who call me often with a sigh, I love you. I love you because your candor encourages me that I am not alone in this. Know that you are not alone in this either, and you are beautiful—all that seems to you to be your failure is not. You are a wonderful mom and a gracious friend and a beautiful daughter of the King. And know that this is my echoing sigh in return, affirming you, and knowing that our sighing is an outpouring of our Longing for that which is Perfect, which one day we shall know face to Face.