Apparently there is a Japanese proverb that says, “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” I like this because it feels like the story of my life. Of this life.
To be clear, I was born an optimist.
Back in my school days, teachers and students alike would stop me in the hallway to ask what was wrong if I wasn’t smiling. My home life during those years was...ahem, pretty intense, but I wasn’t going to let it keep me down. I was almost always smiling-laughing, making jokes, making lemonade.
I was giddy on life and hope.
Maybe I’m just getting old, or perhaps just tired, but when I am honest, there are a dozen moments each week that leave me feeling lost and disappointed. I don’t smile or laugh nearly as much as I used to. Some days I'm a bit slower to just bounce back.
And I hate that.
A potential client who loved and raved about our work went with someone else because they were a few hundred dollars cheaper.
I had a Gigantic misunderstanding with someone last week and even though I tried to fix it and apologize, they won’t even talk to me now.
A well-known wedding blog asked us to submit a particular wedding (#bestmomentofmyweek), but then wrote back and said they already had one too similar lined up to showcase.
A close friend we’ve gone to bat for again and again hired someone else for some jobs instead of us. Yes, it feels personal.
I could go on. And we haven’t even talked about the Really Hard Stuff. Don’t get me wrong-my disappointments may all seem silly to you, (indeed they are ridiculous in light of what Matters in this life) but in my quiet moments, they matter to me.
The thing is, I know you have your own list.
So what do we do with this?
I cried yesterday, in the middle of a street in Brantford, because all “the hard stuff” just felt so...well, so dang hard. I’d made one too many mistakes at work; we’d just found out the offer we made on a great property didn’t go through after all. I felt beaten up, worn down.
I walked and I cried a little and I prayed too.
I prayed for grace.
I prayed for hope.
I prayed for strength.
I didn’t immediately feel better, but I headed home with dry eyes. And then I ran into my sweet friend Holly. A hug from a friend-yes, it was exactly what I needed.
I recently had a good convo with my friends Melissa and Laura about comparison. So many people we know are off doing amazing things and if we think about it, it makes our own lives look dull and unfulfilling. Their job pays better. They were given a bucket full of gold (yes, literally). They have the cutest babies. Life seems easy for them.
But this I know-comparison kills.
And I don’t want comparisons and disappointments to have the last word in this conversation, in my life.
At 30, I’ve experienced a depth of relationships that some don’t get in a lifetime. I have the sweetest husband, I’ve been able to travel a ridiculous amount, have attended university, have a downpayment for The Right House when it comes, have always had a roof over my head and eaten every day. (Often well!)
I have so much for which I am grateful.
So I’ve been thinking about this a lot-this thankfulness and all this hurt. And then I was remembering that someone once told me that they saw my life as a stained glass window.
Stained glass, as an art and a craft, requires the artistic skill to conceive an appropriate and workable design, and the engineering skills to assemble the piece. A window must fit snugly into the space for which it is made, must resist wind and rain, and also, especially in the larger windows, must support its own weight. Many large windows have withstood the test of time and remained substantially intact since the late Middle Ages. (Wikipedia.)
God what sort of picture are you designing with my life?
When I think of stained glass windows, I think of a thousand intricate pieces melted into one big beautiful story. I think of light and colour, of a myriad of little wobbly bits, that come together in the most magnificent of ways.
So maybe my life is like a stained glass window. I think everyone’s is. Everywhere I look, I see beauty and pain, happiness and sorrow. I see disappointments and a million hard edges, but also life, joy and beauty.
As I drove home a couple of weekends ago through northern Indiana and then Michigan, with Jonathan softly snoring beside me, I listened to music and couldn’t help but remembering all the goodness in my life.
It was magic. I know need more moments like this. But not every day comes with a quiet sunset and in the dreary days, I think these moments are just a conscious choice.
So even after all this rambling, I don’t have a magic formula for dealing with disappointment and I will never negate that our feelings are real. I hate to admit it, but I still have to sit myself down and say, “Perspective, Beckner!” more times than I care to admit.
And, let's be real...I will probably even still cry (sorry, Jonathan.) But I promise, I’ll wipe my eyes and get up again. I will take my messy, stained-glass-window life and I won’t give up. I hope you don’t either.