Blessings from Failure:
Back in 2011 and prior to my discovery of dyspraxia, my boss tried to help me rectify my overloaded caseload. We worked together and I tried hard to please my manager. I never could. I fell down constantly. He was trying to manage me better. In the end the chronic stress was too great and I was signed off work for 5months with severe anxiety and medium/severe depression. It all happened at the beginning of Holy week.
This was not the first time I had been off work with stress. The first time was March 2002. This is when I had asked a previous manager whether I could change my hours to work part time. Even then the reason for my wanting to go part time was that work and the chronic stress surrounding it was taking over my life. On this occasion the manager had set up a meeting to confront me as to how I would manage my outstanding list of final reports, especially when working part time. The stress and inability to perform had made me ill. On this occasion I was signed off with work related stress but managed to return after three weeks. The stress I had suffered was not mentioned again in that work place.
This second time in 2011 was even more damaging than the first because a series of life events also had added to the mix and my depression was more entrenched. Still unknown to me was the real cause for work related difficulties. This was dyspraxia and a poor working memory and slowing than average ability to process information.
It was a picture of Jesus that rescued me. Literally!
In 2011, I had been avoiding Church services. We had moved house to the town where I had been born and brought up and I had never settled back into Church life. Despite this I was still loosely affiliated. Later that year there was a prayer day on a Saturday at the Methodist Church I had attended as a child. I decided to drop in. I came across the picture at a point of the prayer walk. It is a picture of Jesus crouching on the ground looking directly the person viewing the picture. His eyes are gentle and he is reaching out his hand. Behind Jesus people are standing. They stare with a mixture of expressions, some hard judgmental, openly hostile; others curious; some indifferent. The picture was placed above a bowl of water in which you could place stones symbolizing the burdens you were carrying. I placed my burden to be washed by Jesus in the water. This helped. The picture helped even more.
A few days later I asked the Methodist Minister if I could borrow the picture. She let me keep it. Over several weeks I found myself gazing into the eyes of Jesus, quiet and on my own at home. The picture reminded me of the story of the woman caught in adultery, naked and exposed. I was that woman. The shame I felt was a physical feeling in the gut. Yet Jesus’s eyes did not condemn me. I learnt to look at Jesus and forget the rest. If he did not condemn me, no other person’s views mattered.
Today, I know that our Divine Three- in- One God loves me. I know that deep down. Yet old habits die hard, and old worries and feelings of inadequacy get in the way, especially as my failings are found out yet again. I don’t want to fail, and let people down. I suffer from a stricken conscience when I fail.
Despite this I recognise blessing in failure. I have learnt worthwhile lessons because I fall down. It has taught me a measure of humility. It is hard to be proud and self-righteous when you know that you make mistakes and could be wrong. Failure teaches me to accept other people’s mistakes. Sometimes I think I accept other people’s mistakes more easily than I accept my own. I have discovered that being merciful and forgiving is an on-going process, especially if you have emotional scars. These scars, though unseen, are as real as physical ones and hurt when touched. Falling down has taught me empathy. Because I know what it is like to struggle I think I am a better therapist as it helps me to relate to my clients and their struggles. Finally, when I am less stressed and in a happier place, I have plenty of laughs at the daft things that have happened to me because of my dyspraxia.
I will end with the treasured words of Brother Lawrence in conversation and published back in 1692:
“That he had no qualms; for said he, when I fail in my duty, I readily acknowledge it, saying, I am used to do so; I shall never do otherwise if I am left to myself.
If I fail not, then I give God thanks, acknowledging that success comes from Him.”