Friday, August 26, 2016

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Spider

1. Watching from the outside, 
    No one likes to notice
    The one looking in. 
    But the spider sees. 

2. I wish I could be like the spider. 
    When spinning and work is done,
    I could relax, watch, and wait
    For I know my food will come presently.

3. Someone lives with you, 
    And watched everything you do. 
    But they scurry at night, 
    And take no pride in appearance. 
    Your roommate is a spider. 

4. Everyone stops and watches
    When a spider has caught his prey. 
    But they never stopped to watch him wait, 
    Or to admire his invisible work. 

5. Lessons in table manners: 
    Eat quickly like the spider
    And cover your mess like a civilized person. 

6. Shiver, shiver, 
    Dart and quiver. 
    A jerking end for a spider's meal. 

7. As the spider eats her web before the storm, 
    Use today what cannot be saved for tomorrow. 

8. Hours of labor
    And no one sees. 
    Take it down
    And no one mourns. 
    The spider never gives up. 

9. It took one girl to scream for five, 
    Two more to call one guy, 
    Three to find the shoe, 
    And one poor dead spider who started it all. 

10. The view of the lovely pink clouds, 
      The stuff of stately paintings
      And deep musings, 
      Was ruined by the black spider and its pitiful prey. 

11. In the corner of the ceiling
      There is a black spot that never moves. 
      But the many eyes of the spider, 
      They watch. 

12. Pray your reputation never precedes you 
      As it does the spider. 
      For people never stop to ask
      Whether you're a common brown or a black widow. 

13. Spiders. 
      Those eerie, dangling acrobats
      On their lines of silk. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Traversing a season of Failure

No one ever intends to walk down this road. If you haven't been down here, you will one day. If this is your second or third journey, I'm sure you know how it feels.


After the initial flash of anger fades, doubts color everything gray. My summer was a season of learning about failure. It was not pretty and it was not easy. But, as I start this new academic year, I can say that I have grown through it.

There seem to be two stages to this sort of season when everything is going wrong.

First is the daily beating. I felt like I was asked to get up every day and stand by while failure punched me in the gut until I collapsed. But, being a hard worker and a believer, I had to get back up and face it again. Hard work and prayer are supposed to keep me from failure right? That is what I have always tended to think. So I kept getting up and kept working. Getting up, only to be knocked down again, gets really old really fast. I felt betrayed because I had done everything right. I was supposed to work hard and then God was supposed to bless my work. Instead, I experienced the resounding slap of failure ringing in my ears.

What comes second are the doubts. What has happened in one arena now threatens to seep into other areas of my life. Now that I've seen my shortcomings here, I see them everywhere. My pride is angry because it's hurt. My faith falters because I haven't been given what I asked for. I'm frustrated because I'm not as good as I thought I was. Maybe I think too highly of me? I don't want anyone else to see. These are feelings of loss, of grief. They plagued my thoughts as one season drew to a close and another loomed before me. Would this failing follow me into the new season?

Well, in a way it will. It's going to sting for a long time. Satan is going to use it to get under my skin and attack me.

I have to look my failure in the face and deal with it. Recognize that it is a part of who I am becoming.

But failure in one season does not define me.

I can allow it to shape me, but I cannot allow it to define who I am. Coming out of this place, I had to learn to ask myself what I was going to do with this. How was I going to allow God to redeem this? I tend to be a performance based sort of person. I base my worth on being the "good girl" who works hard. Making good choices and acting the right way was supposed to bring rewards. But life doesn't always work that way. Sometimes we can do everything right and still not have things turn out the way we imagined. During this season I often asked "why?" when I should have been asking "WHO?"

God is in control. He uses everything in my life, so nothing is ever wasted.

I can ask the Lord to keep teaching me what it is He wants me to learn from all this. I have learned to lean in closer to Him. I find my identity in Him, not my failures. I have to realize that I am not the first to struggle and I will not be the last. This is why I am so thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I can reach out, ask for prayer, and feel God's encouragement and love through them. Hearing the words of godly people close to me helped me the most during this time.

I encourage all of you to remember that any season of failure is just a speck on your timeline! This right now is a part of our journey. It is another opportunity to die to ourselves and depend on Christ. This is an opportunity to mature and deepen our character as God prepares us for whatever the future holds.

The sting of the past comes daily and we have to daily surrender that to Christ. Lean in even closer and ask for help to understand. When we do this every day we learn to be thankful for God's constant presence. Even in this circumstance, even down this dark road, God is with us. God is for us! We can CHOOSE to believe that God is good even though the circumstances are bad. That becomes our weapon against the doubts when they come.

No one ever intends to traverse a season of failure, but the comfort is that you're not going through it alone. God is right there with you. I hope some of what I've learned encouraged you and points you back to the one who's watching out for you. In God's strength I've learned how to look my failings in the face and accept their part in shaping who I am. It's not always going to be easy, but I know who to depend on when I'm weary.

Keep standing up, keep walking on with courage toward what God has in store for you!