Have you ever felt like a failure?
I mean the kind of failure where you just don’t think you can show your face in public again?
I have. More than once if you can believe it.
When I was in the fifth grade, I was desperate to be a cheerleader. It’s what all the popular girls did. The beautiful, smart girls. That’s who I wanted to be. A beautiful, smart girl who everyone looked up to.
Instead I was a buck-toothed tall skinny flat chested girl, who struggled to read, laughed too loud and could play football better than most of the boys. Since I couldn’t play football, I though I would try to do the next best thing.
Be a cheerleader.
I was just missing a few things. A chest of any kind and some semblance of coordination. I was a horrid jumper and off in my timing when cheering. But I was very determined.
So I stuffed my bra and practiced for hours in my back yard, cheering, jumping and driving my siblings crazy. On the final day of the tryouts, I was ready. In my too tight t-shirt and nylon enhanced training bra, I thought I had it made. Everything was going right and then…well…it all fell apart.
Or rather, it all fell out. As I was doing a series of cartwheels, my knee high nylons began to shift in my training bra and then one fell out of my t-shirt when I was upside down. As I righted myself, I heard the laughter and then I saw the nylon on the ground. My face turned redder than the reddest tomato and tears sprang to my eyes.
The cheerleading coach quietly picked it up as I stared down at my now lopsided chest and handed it to me. I quickly put it in the pocket of my gym shorts, said I wasn’t feeling well, grabbed my gym bag and went to the bathroom. I held it together long enough to take out the other nylon, grab a dime from my bag for the pay phone and call my Mom to come get me.
Humiliation, thy name is Mary.
Needless to say I didn’t make the team that year, nor did I look at any of my classmates in the eye for weeks and weeks and weeks. My teachers all knew what had happened, heck the principal knew. It lead to a lecture from Sister Frances Vernon about being as God made us and not giving into pride and trying to be different.
Oh yeah that was fun.
Middle school was not my finest hour. Not by a long shot. Somehow by the grace of God and the gift of true friendship, thank you Suzanne and Mary Beth M, I made it through that storm and many others of my own making.
The lessons of middle school have never left me. I got that chest I once dreamed about and let me tell you, it came with it’s own difficulties and insecurity. Time and patience was all that was needed. Time to allow me to prepare and be ready for it. Patience with myself in figuring out how to handle it. Time and patience. It’s what is required when we are learning something new or preparing for some great change.
I also learned that authenticity is where it’s at. I didn’t need to be someone else, I just needed to be me. I would figure out in time that big laugh would draw some pretty terrific people into my life, including my husband. Those buck-teeth would be straightened out and that tall skinny girl would not always be so skinny. She would learn to bake and cook and use those skills to entertain and love those closest to her.
Time and patience…in life these are precious commodities. Our Lady knew this. She patiently pondered in her heart each step along the way before taking action. She took her time and raised her son Jesus and loved her husband, Joseph all the while keeping her eye on the future and where God was leading her. In time, she told her son that his ministry was to begin. He turned water into wine and three years later he was hanging on a Cross for me and for you.
Time + Patience = Pondering (praying before acting)
I have learned this lesson the hard way but it is one that I will never forget. I can’t wear knee highs even all these years later. I am also not very good at cart wheels. I did make the cheerleading squad in 7th grade but decided I liked soccer better.
In the end, it’s all working out as it should. Today I ponder a lot and take my time when needed before acting. Other times the Holy Spirit prompts a quicker response but I have built a trusting relationship so I feel confident when I act on that calling.
Life is filled with lessons that require time and patience to figure out.
Pray with me won’t you…
Dear Mother Mary,
Thank you for being a most beautiful example of humility, always pondering in your heart before taking action. Thank you for your patience and trust in the Lord and his plan for your life. Thank you for showing me the way to prepare for making big decisions and surviving difficult times. May I always seek your counsel as I navigate this world. May my heart be open to the sound of your sons voice as he gently directs my feet towards him. May God the Father have mercy on me, Jesus guide me and the Holy Spirit prompt my actions, all while being surrounded by your mantle of protection and love.
We ask this in the name of your son Jesus,