Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Days: Letting Go of Results

In the past nine months, we have welcomed into our hearts two loveable teenagers who often make us want to pull out our hair - and theirs.

In the past three months, both of the loveable teenagers have been kicked out of school - an alternative school - and had a general outbreak of various ills and woes. Both have lost initiative and probably a good bit of hope. Both have made poor choices and attempted more than once to shut us out.

As Cory said, we seem to be just one rung above rock bottom.

You would think it wouldn't work this way, right? I know I saw it ending differently.

I remember sending out a heartfelt email full of encouragement and sap and the very next day, things turned around, for the better. I felt like maybe, just maybe, our love here was making a quiet little difference. It felt good to sit in that belief for a while.

But it didn't last long and it only made the free-fall a sadder one.

I'm a girl who likes results. I'm competitive and I keep track of my progress. I do most of my keeping track in secret, it's just for me. But I always know. I was good at sales, in the olden days, mostly because I liked working with something so measurable. Come election season, I watch the polls like a hawk. I'm a sucker for a come-from-behind-win, but that win - it's got to be there. I need at least a glimmer up at the horizon.

So this stuff with the kids? It feels like losing. It feels like an omen. If I didn't know better, it could feel like a strong "give it up", or a "why bother?"

Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you work your tail off at your job and success keeps hiding. Maybe someone else ends up with the credit - they grab your results and wear them as their own. Maybe you have a special needs child and the milestone shows up like a glittery grain and you have to strain your eyes to see it, or they say ADD and it feels like an assault on you, the Mommy. Maybe you have an adopted child and you're seeing everything in reverse. It could be a work of art that no one else appreciates, a bad review, six months of counseling but the marriage unravels anyway. It might be foreclosure. Dinner in the trash. Tipping the scales. It might be the best post you've ever written and not a single comment.

Every day, every day, we measure and we track. We hinge our joy and our purpose on that positive correlation - if I try harder, the trend ticks up.

But what if we embraced the big mystery, all of the places we were not meant to see - at least not for now? We say we believe that there's a reason for everything, that God never wastes pain. What if we lived that way? What if we believed that poor results are sometimes best, sometimes necessary? What if we opened our hand to the idea that God doesn't have time for numbers, that he measures success in the subtle shift of the soul, or in tears, or in heartbreak, or belly laughs?

I'm choosing to believe, beyond all that I see in front of me, that this thing we've been doing - this thing that looks like failure and inspires us to joke - I'm believing that it's a huge, confetti-specked success. I'm choosing to walk in what is true, and then, to keep on walking.

You with me?

*For the rest of the Letting Go series, click here.