Hope-Filled Mama

hope. encourage. inspire.

Tag: perseverance

Don’t let failures define us

I spend too much time regretting mistakes and moments of weakness in my past. My twenties were filled with too much drinking and too many boyfriends. My thirties were defined by unfulfilled potential. My forties, so far, have had too many less-than-ideal mommy moments.

Yet in the midst of all my failings, I also managed to get two engineering degrees and a MBA. After school, I held many corporate positions, including a high-pressure one at Apple. I’ve traveled the world engaging in missions to help those less privileged. I run a women’s ministry that hopefully provides an opportunity for women to build their faith. I also married an amazing man and I’m raising three wonderful and adorable children.

My hope is that the good I do isn’t outweighed by the bad I did.

It was only a few years ago that I became aware that Martin Luther King, Jr. was widely known to have numerous affairs and had committed plagiarism in many of his writings and speeches. As I learned this, the person explaining this to me dismissed him and all of his teachings because of these transgressions. His dismissal of MLK saddened me in the moment and continues to haunt me still.

Martin Luther King, Jr. with his family

I admit I am too ignorant of MLK and his teachings, but what I do know of him continues to astound and inspire me. The obstacles he faced, the hatred, humiliation, and abuse he endured was truly unfathomable. His courage and perseverance was immense. His goals and vision are some of the loftiest this world has ever known.

“The end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.”― Martin Luther King, Jr.

After studying the life of MLK, Philip Yancey says in his book Soul Survivor, “I better understand now the pressures that King faced his entire adult life, pressures that surely contributed to his failures. King’s moral weaknesses provide a convenient excuse for anyone who wants to avoid his message, and because of those weaknesses some Christians still discount the genuineness of his faith.”

I think this is a tragedy. I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t face the consequences of their misconduct. But instead of letting our failures define us or others, let us accept them, move past them, and let them lead us to learn and grow into better people.

It took me five long years of not dating to be truly prepared to find the right husband. I needed that time to learn more about myself, so I could better understand what kind of man would make a good life-long partner for me. It’s taken me ten years to build up the courage to face my fears and try new ventures like writing. I have to be willing to overcome uncomfortable feelings of inadequacy. And it will be a life-long journey to learn how to parent with the patience and grace I desire. I make many mistakes along the way, but I practice forgiving myself and try again the next day. I ask that we each do that for ourselves, as well as for others.

 

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

 

Do you spend time recounting your failures? What if you forgave yourself?

 

For more information on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. please see A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.Bearing the Cross

Got Grit?

Right now I feel anticipation of what the new year may hold, what lies ahead. I am motivated and hopeful.

As the mother of three children who are now seven, six, and two, it has been a years-long journey of interrupted sleep. I do not do well with interrupted sleep. I like my sleep uninterrupted. But now that our youngest is two, we are entering the sweet stage of (usually) sleeping through the night. The more sleep I get, the more I begin to see small slivers of hope that I might reclaim some part of the old me. The me I was before I was a mom. The me who had time to dream, do, and create non-mom things. I want to take hold of this new-found hope and energy, and bottle it. I want to sip from it daily to keep me motivated so that I don’t slip back into comfortable excuses that I’m too tired or too busy.

For years I have had a secret desire to write, but many things have held me back. One of my biggest perceived obstacles is that I have no formal training in writing. I spent my college years getting engineering and business degrees so I could be self-sufficient and successful. I never considered studying and doing something that I loved. I never realized that the definition of success could mean doing something that you loved. It wasn’t that I was suppressing my secret longing to do something different. Rather, I never really considered what it is that I might enjoy, let alone love, doing.

It’s just now, in my forties, that I’m taking the time to figure that out and make some changes. Yet I have a lot of fear. It’s held me back for years. Fear that I might not have talent, fear that I might not have anything worth saying, and fear that I might offend someone along the way. But the worldwide response to the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo in Paris has given me encouragement that most of the world values expression of many kinds. I refuse to let fear win. As Jon Acuff’s book title says, I want to Punch Fear in the Face. I don’t want to be living in this same cloud of fear ten, twenty, or thirty years down the road. I want to seize the life I have been given and be brave and courageous enough to try new things. I want to fail rather than to never try at all.

So it resounded with me when I heard this TED talk from researcher Angela Duckworth. She had done years of research to determine the greatest predictor of success in life. Was it high IQ? Good looks? Abundant resources? Family connections? Nope. It was grit—the passion, perseverance, and stamina to see your dreams become reality.

 

What I’ve come to realize is that the only thing holding me back is myself. I am extremely fortunate to have an education, resources that allow me to stay at home with my kids, and many loving, supportive, and encouraging friends. There is no better platform from which to expand my horizons. So I commit to press onward, try new things, expect mistakes and setbacks, and hope in the transformation that will take place along the way.

 

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”  Albert Einstein

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”  Mary Anne Radmacher

 

What resolutions are you making this year? What fears are holding you back from doing what you love? What area of your life might benefit from having more grit?

 

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