I surprise myself sometimes. When I look back at my life, i find that there are a lot of things that I have done that I once thought were impossible. Or at the very least, improbable.
I have a bad habit of losing sight of the forest because of all the trees. I look at the myriad of little problems throughout my day and completely lose track of the big picture and how all these little issues are making me into a better person. There have been a number of opportunities that I have not been ready for and mucked up in the past. Yet, thanks to the grace of Spirit, I keep getting chances to try them again.
This really struck me last summer as I was camping with my son at his first Cub Scout resident camp. 20 years earlier, I was at a resident camp myself and had failed my swim test. I’ve never been much of a swimmer as I had a bad experience when I was very young. Since then, If I couldn’t touch or see the bottom…I was out. However, about five years ago, I decided to take some swimming lessons just to get the basics and be able to play in pools and such with my kids. It helped a lot and as long as I could see the bottom, I no longer had to touch it too. I never really expected to use this for anything other than pools and maybe a beach here and there. Flash forward to summer 2010. I find myself standing on a dock being told that all campers, adult and child, need to take the swim test. Panic, joy, fear, happiness… I was elated that I would have a chance to redeem my childhood failure. And completely freaked out that I might not pass and would look like a complete ass (or drown). My moment of truth came and into the water I went. After much labored swimming and a bit of floundering floating, I climbed out of the water. Victory was mine! At 32 years old I had finally passed the Boy Scout swim test. I could hear the angels singing! …well maybe not, but you get the point.
I learned a valuable lesson about myself that day. One that I did not hesitate to pass on to my son. Failure is never the end. As long as you keep your eyes open and look for ways to improve yourself, you will be given as many opportunites as you need to succeed. I’m still not a great swimmer. I may never be. But I also don’t care about that. I took the steps to improve myself and I passed a previously failed test. I am setting my sights on other opportunites now. Each day brings me new challenges and sometimes chances to retry old ones. With a little dedication and faith in myself, I am finally starting to see that there is nothing I cannot accomplish.
Don’t get me wrong, the fear of failure is still there. I just refuse to succumb to it.