It would be easy to call myself a failure. I, who value love above all things, have failed in my marriage of eight years. I am 30 and single for the first time since college. I am getting by, but my not-quite-two-year-old daughter has more money in her savings account than I have in mine. I am drawn towards friends who have other priorities, and I want more than they can give me. I am pining for the soulmate I’ve yet to meet. My heart is full of love, and I have no one to share it with but my young daughter who can only understand the edges of it right now. I am overweight (as I have been my whole life) and growing more and more gray hairs, and I frequently feel mediocre and unremarkable, despite my talents and passions. I don’t have a lot of hopes for career advancement because I have already arrived at my professional target, which is unfortunately in the rather underpaid nonprofit sector. I recently learned that I am the target of derisive gossip—by at least one member of my church, no less—and that people are sitting around speculating about my love life (or lack thereof). My friends are constantly warning me not to do anything that will cause me more heartache because they know how impulsive and openhearted and frankly foolhardy I tend to be. I have plenty of reasons to feel like a loser.
It would also be easy to call myself a success. I have recently been promoted to the job I’ve been working towards my entire career, and I’m doing very well in it. I’m handling responsibility in tough situations and have gained the trust and respect of my colleagues. I am using my musical talents to contribute to my community. I am a good mother who enjoys spending quality time with my beautiful daughter—even when she’s having one of her stubborn toddler days—and I feel that I have really learned to slow down and appreciate moments with her instead of always being in a hurry. I live a pretty sensible and responsible lifestyle, I spend lots of time with my friends who care about me, and I have the chance to do good things for the people I love. I am challenging myself to acquire new skills—like learning crossovers in my ice skating lessons—and there are many days when I feel truly happy when only a year ago that was rarely the case. I am smart and resilient and learning to live alone for the first time in my life, something I used to be terrified of but am handling remarkably well these days. I’ve been getting lots of compliments these days on everything from my appearance to my choir solo audition to my performance at work. I have plenty of reasons to feel pretty good about myself.
The truth is that I am both broken and beautiful. I fail sometimes and I succeed sometimes, but in the end I am simply me—a remarkable yet flawed creation of a loving and forgiving God. I am both a stumbling sinner and a saint walking in the light of God. I have doubts that bring me to my knees and faith that makes the sun shine brighter. I am full of love and sometimes fear, and I am well-known for both falling and stubbornly getting back up again. You can count on me to both despair in the night and sing with joy in the morning. Sometimes I shiver in the rain and sometimes I dance in it. I am weakness and strength, flesh and spirit. I will never be so broken that I am beyond God’s love or so beautiful that I do not need God’s mercy. I will never be such a failure that I am ashamed to look my friends in the eye or such a success that I think myself above them. I will just be one more person trying my best to follow God and use my gifts to His glory. One more girl trying to love and be loved. Sometimes I won’t succeed, but, oh, sometimes I will. And that hope is worth holding on to, no matter how many times my heart breaks. Praise be to the God who simultaneously humbles my pride and makes my scars lovely to behold.