Tag Archives: failure

Expecting

24 Sep

I don’t know how to start this blog post.

So I will simply begin with how I feel.

I feel very happy! I am 18 weeks pregnant. And utterly overjoyed at this new life growing within me.

It still, at times, feels somewhat surreal. Me. Pregnant. Me. Soon-to-be-a-mama. Us. On the path to parenthood.

It hasn’t been an easy road. Or a straightforward one.

Month after month of disappointment.

And the won’t-go-away questions: will it ever happen? Is there something wrong? Should we do something about it? The doubts. The maybe’s. Maybe we won’t ever have our own (biological) child. Maybe we just need to come to terms with that. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

We had talked about adoption. Talked seriously. And we still talk about adoption now. Another maybe. And yet, staggeringly, we made our own baby. It took time, but I can now look down at my growing bump and know this is not just a dream.

Earlier today, I read an article about adoption that was so shocking, it left me lost for words (it’s well worth a read, if you have a few spare minutes). It talks of the emerging “rehoming” industry in the US – where adopted children no longer wanted by their new parents put them up for “transfer” online. This black market in child swapping sounds unreal, like a Grimm’s fairy tale, but it is not fiction. And yet, within the horror – the hard-to-imagine desire to give up a child you had so desperately wanted – I see the utter desperation of humans out of their depth. Desperation at an overly bureaucratic system, at the expense involved in adoption (particularly internationally). I glimpsed the isolation these parents must feel when their longer-for adoption seems like one big mistake.

Whilst not in any way condoning the actions of those illegally and irresponsibly “passing on” their child to a new home, I do wonder whether such horror stories are some of the symptoms of a system-gone-wrong.

It has often amazed me that those-who-fall-pregnant are treated so differently from those-who-want-to-adopt. Potential adopters have the minutiae of the lives publicly analysed. They spend much time (and often much money) hoping they will perceived as “parent material”. They have to prove their potential-parent qualities.

What about the rest of us? With 22 weeks to go, I don’t really have a clue what lies ahead. I still can’t quite believe that, in just a few months time, my hubster and I will be wholly responsible for a precious little life. It is a gift and a delight. An incredible privilege. And just a bit scary too.

As we prepare to bring a new life into the world, I want to remember too the children whose lives begin very differently – who are not wanted, not cared for, not loved. I don’t want to cut myself off – in a little “new parent” bubble – from these realities. And I don’t want our child to be cut off from them either. I don’t ever want to stop thinking about adoption. Or fostering. Or supporting families in need so that they can stay together.

I don’t want to become a self-satisfied, middle-class parent, immune from the realities faced by the majority in our world.  A world where some parents are so desperate they give up their longed-for child, not even knowing where he or she will end up. That is true desperation. True isolation. This system needs to be fixed.

Under the cloud

9 Nov

It’s been one of those weeks.

I saw the dark cloud approaching, hovering on the horizon, probably about ten days ago. I spotted it and I ignored it.

For some reason, I thought that denial might work – this time.

And as the cloud approached, I remained naively optimistic. It will be different this time. I can do this. I can win this battle.

I started feeling slightly disconnected – from those around me, from conversations, from life. And I still carried on thinking I would be ok.

Then. Then – the crash. Unable to get out of bed. Unable to answer my phone. Unable to connect – with anyone, anything.

The cloud had enveloped me. I could no longer deny its presence. I could not fight, I had no resources or strength. Nothing.

I felt so sad. Overwhelmed by disappointment. A sense of loss. A sadness at the world we live in, at the suffering of those I love. A sadness and a questioning – of the path I am on, the world I occupy.

I could no longer see, enveloped by blackness. Bleakness.

I have been under the cloud before. And it is horrible. Awful. It is lonely, isolating, enveloping, all-consuming.

No-one should ever have to live under the cloud.

And today? Today, the cloud is still there but there are some rays of light too.

So please don’t worry. I write these words not to alarm anyone, but in the pursuit of honesty and truth. Of vulnerability.

For I spend many years pretending I was strong. And I am not.

I cannot do this on my own.

And I cannot pretend anymore. It’s been one of those weeks.

Words, they elude

19 Oct

As I chatted with a friend the other day, I realised – again – how much life has changed over the last twelve months.

October 2011 was a truly bleak month, followed by several more. No work. No money. Life felt like a weight, a burden, rather than a joy. And my coping methods didn’t seem to help.

October 2012 is here and I feel so different. Work is abundant, we are financially more secure, we have a new home and are starting on a new adventure.

I am so grateful that the darkness – the days of depression and despair – are no longer my ever-present companion.

Grateful for life itself.

Have all the “problems” disappeared? No.

Of course not.

They just feel less overwhelming at the moment.

And I want to celebrate this – the fun times, the joys and gift of life itself.

And yet, these times seem harder to write about.

I am struggling to know what to write here on the blog.

I struggle to find words, they elude.

I don’t want to stop writing. I don’t want to write only occasionally. I don’t want to write only when life is painful.

It feels as though my blog about failure is failing.

What can I do?

Moments of redemption

21 Aug

This evening I experienced redemption. A moment of grace. Unseen scars, the sort that can reside for years within the heart, seemed to dissipate. And I am deeply grateful.

Four years ago, life became unrecognizable for me. Dreams shattered, hope destroyed. I had a vision, a dream, to work with street children and see their lives transformed. I wanted to create family for those without, a safe place for those always on the run. And somehow, in a few short months, it all fell apart. Somehow, despite many, many months of planning, praying and preparing, it went horribly wrong. And I was left bewildered, bemused, confused.

Somehow, by the grace of God, I find myself in a very different place four years later. The daily relentless struggle I used to experience – the conviction that I was a failure, the longing to hide away – did not remain forever (although, at times, it seemed like it might). Healing has been gradual, not immediate. A combination of faithful and faith-filled family and friends, an amazing husband, a made-to-talk-to-Becca counsellor, the wisdom of others, and many, many hours of processing on my own.  This journey has been shaped by occasionally progress and then seeming regression. The scars, once so bright, had – over time – faded. But they had not disappeared.

Today, right now, I feel pleased that I have these faded scars – the reminders that failure can be survived, that hope does emerge from the most hopeless places. I am at peace with these reminders, because tonight a few words were spoken that brought a deeper healing to the faded wounds. I am pleased because I have remembered that there is a plan and purpose bigger than myself. And, it would seem, I still have a part to play.

This time, however, it feels healthy and good and right. I have nothing to prove. I can risk again. I can give – not because I need to be liked or needed or a “success”, but simply because there is an opportunity to do so. I can dare to go to a place where I might meet “failure”, because I know such things can be survived.

And so, this evening, I feel grateful. Not only for this new opportunity, but also for the jagged, pain-to-hope story that has got me to this moment. I am grateful for my failure, for it has made me who I am today. It has brought me to a beautiful moment of deep redemption. And now, after all the struggles and doubts, I feel amazing. I feel free.

Who am I? Where am I? Part II

11 Jun

What did the clever man think? He liked it.

And I liked that he liked it. It felt redemptive somehow. Redemptive – yet confusing.

What should I do with that which has been salvaged? Plucked out of the dark and brought into the light? For that is how it felt – as though part of me long locked away was being released, allowed to re-emerge. “The failure” may not, after all, be the end.

Can failures be rescued, re-imagined, resurrected? What can we do with the remnants?

In Mozambique, several years ago, I visited a rubbish dump known locally as the bocarria. There lived the scavengers, those who made a living from others’ waste. Those who were so poor, so desperate, that the unwanted remnants – discarded by fellow human beings – became their livelihood.

These entrepreneurial rescuers knew instinctively that worthless things may actually be deeply valuable. That life is often found amongst waste, that hope often dwells in unusual places – and can be buried within a smelly, forsaken mountain of shit.

Many of us in the West never get anywhere near the shit. We live complacent, comfortable, there-is-always-enough (or there-is-always-too-much) lives. We throw away that which is valuable – both literally and metaphorically – because it’s easier, more convenient, than salvaging from the rubbish. We put the rubbish in the bin automatically, and we lock our failures in the cupboard in the same way. We discard that which may, sometimes, need to be salvaged.

And so we miss out. On redemption. On hope-restoration. On real-life resurrection.

We miss out because salvaging is hard work and costly. Painful. It takes time. And it rubs your hands (and heart) raw.

I – like many – often make the easy choice: sanitized living – clean, safe and predictable. I prefer order to mess. Hygienic surfaces to those strewn with waste. And yet, occasionally, in the midst of my need-for-order, the unexpected occurs. Scavenging – whilst terrifying and confusing – becomes the best choice. And so I choose it. And there, if only for a brief moment, is the sweet aroma of redemption.

Who am I? Where am I?

8 Jun

It’s been a long time since I put fingers to keys here. I am not sure why. I have been busy – yes. I have been away on a work trip – yes. I have been seeking, but not really finding, inspiration – yes. But these things have happened before and it hasn’t kept me away from the blog. This time it has.

And yet now, as I sit here, there is so much that I want to write and I don’t know where to begin. There is too much I’d like to say and yet I don’t know how to say it. The words were, for a while, inaccesssible; now they are competing for my attention. I don’t know which ones to choose first.

Maybe I will begin at the end and work backwards.

I am in the US at the moment on a work trip. I have been here for two weeks and I love it! I have met some incredible people – people who have chosen a different path and live on the periphery. People who keep me awake at night as I try to absorb the conversations we have had. People who are very “ordinary” and, in so being, somehow become extraordinary.

Last night, I was chatting with two of these people, two new friends. Both are academics – one a professor in post-modern philosophy, the other completing her masters in reconciliation, trauma and gender. I found that, as I talked about my days in academia – from 2003 until 2008, whilst I studied for my Ph D – a dormant part of me was resurrected again. A part of me that is usually shelved. part of Becca that tends to stay in a cupboard, in darkness, away from the light. Yet as we spoke – and we had much in common – this neglected part came into focus once again.

My Ph D was – at the time – the most important thing in my life. I saw it as a springboard to great things. Not academia but action. I spent five years thinking about street children in South Africa and the daily abuses of their human rights and, by the end, I couldn’t wait to get my hands dirty. So I went to the frontline, to the streets of South Africa, and dirtied my clean, library-sanitised hands, mind and body. I put the Ph D on a shelf and left the library for good.

When I came back from South Africa a few months later – deflated, exhausted and broken – I wondered why I had bothered. With the Ph D. With the move to SA. With the hours, weeks, years of thinking, planning and dreaming. It had all gone terribly wrong. I had failed. Completely and utterly.

My attempts, a few months later, to find a publisher for my Ph D were similarly impotent. They weren’t interested. I thought I had something to say, something to contribute, but these “experts” did not agree. And so I gave up.

Gave up being an academic. Gave up trying to work on the frontline.

The oxymoron of “Christian celebrity”

1 Apr

This is a timely, thought-provoking, full-of-truth post by Alan Hirsch. It uses some long words but it is worth wading through them, because he is challenging a taboo here, and it is a much-needed challenge:

“Christian celebrity, especially in that ideological, primadonna-ish, spin-loaded,  cult of self that it embodies, distorts what Jesus essentially stands for.” I love this sentence!

I have long felt uncomfortable with the disparity between the life Jesus lived (humble, anti-status) and the way some leaders in the church live (seemingly status-driven, more-special-than-everyone-else, “set-apart”-but-not-in-a-good-way). This is failure (and-not-in-a-good-way). A failure of priorities. A failure to remember that the Christian way is not about self but the transcendent, beautiful Other.

As Lent – a time of reflection, abstinence and grief – draws to a close, let those of us who call ourselves Christians be honest about our complicity in the creation and sustaining of “Christian celebrity”. Let us grieve our skewed priorities.

And let us do all we can to ensure that the two words – Christian and celebrity – never belong together again.

%d bloggers like this: