Failure

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It was not that long ago.The email had been received, the interview scheduled. The day had arrived and I stood in front of the mirror in my black suit. I had been given money for a new suit for Christmas. After mad sales shopping, I was able to stretch that money to include a blouse and new pumps as well. Yet standing in front of the mirror I felt like a fraud.

My resume sounds great. I mean, I have a solid education, wonderful previous internships. All my employers would likely give glowing recommendations. Yet I stood in front of that mirror and looked beyond the nervous 20 something staring back at me. I looked inside and saw I was far less than that puffed up resume made me out to be.

I distinctly remember 5 years ago, as I sat down with my background investigator with Missouri Stat Highway Patrol. After a month of intense interviews, with everyone I had probably ever looked at, he stared me down and said, “I couldn’t find anyone who could say something negative about you, but I’m concerned, because I also couldn’t find someone who could tell me a time in which you failed. So I do not know- how will you react when you fail?” I walked away from that meeting annoyed. Yes, I had failed, many previous times, I thought, but people tend to remember successes. I pushed it out of my mind.

As I looked myself in the mirror, I heard his words again and this time I had a visceral reaction. I had failed recently. That failure was burned in my mind and seared me down to my core. I didn’t realize this at the time. See, I had tried out for a police department, the very first test was the physical- I failed miserably. The dead dummy drag killed me. I could not for the life of me drag that 180 pound beast. For the first full minute I heaved and grunted and cried in my throat as I tugged at that lifeless dummy. He mocked me and laid still, not even giving me the satisfaction of an inch. After several minutes of deep grunting and searching the deepest parts of my physical limits, I finally drug him past the mark. Everyone cheered for me to sprint to the finish line. As I turned to sprint, I fell. Not a delicate fall. No, my legs were not responding to my brains directions and my body twisted and my legs stayed put. I fell hard. Embarrassed, I pulled myself up quickly and lunged forward. My legs did not follow, I fell again. Again and again, I pulled myself up and made it a step or two,  before my legs would stop responding and head first I would plummet towards the ground and ugly embarrassment. Once I crossed the finish line, I had to sit down for several minutes before the blood finally returned to my legs and I was able to walk without looking like a drunkard stumbling home. With a pat on the shoulder I was dismissed. Head hung low, I tucked my tail and went home.

I had failed. I realized as I looked back that I could not recall many times I had failed. The things I had called failures before were not really failures. I hadn’t placed  high in my league- but I still placed. I didn’t make the position I wanted, but still was part of the team. This was one of the first times that I had put myself out there completely and had the results labeled as insufficient. I had failed. Hard.

As I begun the process of applying with this new department, I quickly recognized the lady who was administering our tests. She was the one who administered my physical for the last department. My heart jumped into my throat. I can honestly say, I thought about walking straight out of the written test she was overseeing that day. My failure was seared in my memory as something impossible to overcome. Eventually, I would have to face that dummy again. Eventually, I would fail again. Why not save myself the embarrassment?

But I stayed for the test, I went to more tests, and then the interviews. I had forgotten my pumps in a different country, so I was forced to wear my mothers. They were too big. I had to stuff them with cotton balls. It was the perfect picture for how I felt inside. Like I was wearing big kid clothes and going to big important meetings, but inside I was just a kid wearing her mothers stuffed heels.

I have made it to the final steps. Conditional offers are being made Tuesday. If I am given an offer, I have to go face my fear, and do another physical. I have invested thousands of dollars in airplane tickets attempting to get this job. My heart is on the line. Adrenaline surges through my fingertips. I am terrified I will choke and fail again. I am doing two-a-day workout and flooding my body with more nutrients than it has received at any point in time in the past four years. Yet, I do not know if it will be enough.

So, as I reach this point, where my body is physically exhausted and my brain is still racing, I have to cry out to God as David did. I read and pray through the Psalms and I can feel myself screaming the same words:

Save me Lord
Let me not be given over to the enemies
Strengthen your servant
I cry out to you in desperation, in fear, in turmoil
Forget me not
Hear my desperate pleas
I will cling to you- you are my refuge
I will trust in you- especially in my Darkness
Leave me not, please, don’t turn away from me

And slowly my heart rate returns to normal. The adrenaline dissipates. My breath is let out in a deep sigh. I do not know if my effort is enough, but I have a God who is. A God who is powerful in my weakness. Who strengthen me. Who, for some reason I cannot understand, loves me beyond recognition. And He cares. Legit cares, about what worries me. So I unburden myself and spill it all out on His feet. Like a best friend I can whisper my darkest dreads, I whisper, Papa, I am terrified I will fail. Please, please, please Papa, don’t let me fail.

“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
 “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you,”

Psalms 91:14-16

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