Have you ever made a commitment or a vow to yourself, and worked at it for years, yet progress seems very slow.
Maybe it was a work goal, a career aspiration, or even a community goal that hasn’t materialized. Then again, it could be something more foundational, like family relationships, or even the one with our-self.
We work, live and recreate alongside others, believing they are thinking much along common lines as we are, but we all have private images of ourselves we may struggle with.
I believe my neighbours, though unique, desire many of the same things as myself; security, smooth relationships, a nice home, maybe a little mutual respect from others. We say it doesn’t matter, but our problem often involves the assessment of others along our way, and that’s where the ‘rub’ is. Children and spouses hold a different place than others; closer, by blood and bone, by need and nurture, hope and help. In the home, similar things are treasured, but how do we go about finding them? Outbursts of control in the work place are tolerated because the paycheck wields extra motivation to go along. If we treated the ones we love with the same ‘work manner’, they would be left in dismay and may learn to give up.
Children are a crazy mix of astounding capability and raw resistance to their own constructive growth. Some find a passion very early for learning, this example challenges other children to see the potential within themselves, or stimulates a fear of limitations, by comparison in others. On the whole, the difference in response comes from the examples they see in their home lives, from parents and siblings.
It is incumbent on us, with children or not, to continue to grow in life, to continue to embrace constructive change, even if we have had a fair record of failures.
Theodore Roosevelt, once a Commissioner of Police for New York and President of the United States, said it nicely. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man (person) who points out how the strong man (character) stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit (or merit) belongs to the man (one) who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself (or herself) in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumphs of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he (or she) fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his (their) place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
The arenas I’m addressing today are the inner ones of character, and the home. It’s in these arenas many of us struggle to navigate, they are intertwined, emotionally entangled, and one reveals the weaknesses left unaddressed in the other.
As parents, our failures, or more significantly our sense of failure, impacts our spouses and children. Life is a series of things being presented to us. Realistically, in the inner sense, there is no way most circumstances can continue to effect us directly. However, if we harbour what harmful moments or failures have tried to teach us, our inner thoughts will develop along the same manner, and we’ll carry this in our identity. When something happens to challenge us, we can let it into that same file, strengthening its voice.
However, we are free-will beings, and we have the choice to start a new narrative, a new story, and begin to steer our life in a new pattern or direction. If little eyes see this, Grace follows most easily, it’s the realistic understanding that “there is no effort without error or shortcoming.” So instead the pressure comes off, not the wheels; we try again and learn a little more with each attempt.
Obviously, Theodore Roosevelt realized, letting yourself off the hook for worthy failure is part of success in the future, for the same goal or a new one. Many of us get trapped in a cycle of investment in thinking or feeling a certain way, it may be hard to change, but not impossible. We can change our emotional response to failure and if we haven’t responded well in the past, we can choose to co-work with new ways and new streams of thought about what we can do and who we can be, about the very fact we can choose.
We have been given that innate gift from God; it means it is impossible to take it away.
Many, so called “Health Initiatives” try to remove the choice through drugs. Poor versions of psychotherapy, attempt to help, by convincing a person to deny there is a need, at all. This effort actually trains a person to use their free-will, not to grow, but run. Grace, on the other hand, teaches to forgive offenders, stand back up, retain or regain dignity and become determined to never become like what has hurt us. God enlists our design, so, instead of yielding to attempts to ravish our souls, we are given life through faith in Christ, to rise inside again, and give to our loved ones what we will allow God to give to us. Things like real forgiveness, acceptance in honest failure, an understanding of limitations and encouragement for growth. Here’s the catch, we must allow them to be given to us first or we won’t have them to give to our loved ones. Remember, our children are watching, and they need to see us become honest and transparent with ourselves, to give them the courage to live in life affirming manners. This is God’s goal, and with Grace accepted continually, maybe it can be ours, and we may aspire to ‘dare greatly’ so our children’s place won’t be with ‘cold and timid’ souls, or peers, and instead they may know “great enthusiasms, the great devotions” intended for their hearts. Sometimes a gentle honest word inwardly allows that outwardly, to our loved ones. Accompany that with the effort to move forward in a new manner in life, it can instill a lifetime of Hope, in a waiting watching heart.
God Bless you in your most honest life.
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