This is one of the major themes of Gregory David Robert’s experience as portrayed in the book (soon to be movie), Shantaram. Also in Tim Tebow’s book, Shaken. Although, one book deals with the dark realities of life and the other, mostly with those of a fallen football player, the lesson is the same; losing is often the win we need for the long-haul. Accept the pain of losing as it comes, and our character development and re-direction will have countless beneficiaries.
I was pleasantly surprised with that reality recently when my challenged nephew was invited to an event sponsored by Tim Tebow’s ministries; ministries that would not exist if Tim Tebow had not been kicked off of three NFL teams.
What I hate most about my past are the times when I was greedy, self-absorbed, or arrogant. Some of those hair-brained words and actions still cause me pain and embarrassment. Yesterday, though, those screw-ups kept me from…
- being a jerk to someone else
- judging another harshly for doing the same thing
- being oblivious and unaware
The best mistakes are those that help us see who we really are.
Said something that prompted 1) cringing, 2) lies and arguments, 3) someone else’s pain, or 4)”What were you thinking?”
If so, there’s only one way out: a big bite of humble pie topped with full responsibility.
Easier said than done, right?
I have way too much practice with these unfortunate scenarios, so can offer tips that help me recover productivity and sanity more quickly:
- remember how much I value apologies and respect those who give them
- realize that the offended party is ALREADY thinking about the offense, so “leaving well-enough alone” is self-deception
- admit that no one ever thought I was perfect to begin with, so, my reputation is not at stake
Notice that “Part 4” about how we justify ourselves is not on this list.
I didn’t recognize you
as the one who had been
crushed by the weight of living
not so long ago
diagnosed with the disease
victim of the accident
bereft of your work and love
children and dreams
so sure you would not make it
but here you are
more beautiful than ever
with seeing eyes
I wrote this thinking about the difficult and frightening things that people are forced to endure all over the world. Some deal with the terror of war, injustice, torture, and catastrophe, others with disease and all manner of sickening loss.
Even here, a mysterious and strong thread of resilience and redemption runs through each of our lives.
To retrace it is to make it stronger.
I was fourteen years old the first time a friend “no-showed” and left me stranded on a weekend night. I was stunned and wounded. My expectations had been high and nothing had prepared me for the possibility of disappointment. As dysfunctional as my family was, I had been taught to keep my word and that others kept their word when the stakes were high. A sibling maybe, but a friend would never no-show and act as if nothing had happened.
Later I would be disappointed when…
- clients, bosses, and coworkers told me they would advocate for me and didn’t
- employers failed to follow through
- employees no called no showed
- romantic interests betrayed
- and…I succumbed to being a no-show myself
But, at least I became wise to the why.
We over-promise because…
- originally, we had good intentions
- we were afraid to tell you the truth
- we didn’t know how to say no
- something better came up
- the cost of fulfillment was too high
- we were embarrassed, or didn’t know how to tell you our plans had changed
- we hoped you would forget about it
- it was always about us, not you
- we wanted to avoid an argument, conflict, or tears
None of us are strangers to the “no show” pain. That’s why I am amazed that we can still rationalize doing it to each other.
Not so long ago, I had to choose between keeping a commitment vs. fulfilling a major bucket-list item. I struggled with it for a day or so and decided I couldn’t let the opportunity pass. I became a no show for people who were counting on me (even though I called and cancelled the commitment before flying off to Alaska). I wish I hadn’t.
The trip, although beautiful, turned into a debacle, complete with painful misunderstandings and disappointments.
No-shows never win.
If I had the opportunity to acquire a superpower, it would be this ability.
How often have we uncovered the ugly root of chaos and found it to be an unwillingness to budge from hardened, bitter dogmatism? Even in our own lives.
That’s why the only place to start is with ourselves:
- Soak the mind in memories of mercies
- People who have shown us kindness
- Music that moves us
- Nature that calms us
- Awareness of our own miraculous existence against the odds
- Focus on listening and learning
- Read outside of our comfort zone
- Say yes instead of no
- Let others talk without interruption
- Delight in differences
- Love where hate has been
- Forgive as we want to be forgiven
- Forgive ourselves for being human
- Recognize the limits of our own knowledge
No matter how difficult our lives have been, how many dreams haven’t come true, or the friends and family who may have left us, we must still focus on the full reality of these three reminders.
Hope will die unless fed with a balanced diet of awareness.
It’s good to remember this when we feel our insides coming out:
And it feels like complete destruction too.
Can you trust like a gardener who brutally buries seeds under mounds of dirt and patiently waits for a long time, past the stage when nothing appears to be happening…to finally see sprouting miracles?
From one impatient person to another: it’s freakin’ hard to do!
But, failing to wait has proven to be harder.
No man…or woman…is worth the price of your soul.
When I am hurting so badly that nothing seems to help, I know it is time to get to work on my soul: on lifting it up to a place above this temporary life that has fooled me into thinking it is permanent.