Show Me Your Struggle

Show Me Your Struggle

It's 8:15. The show starts at 8:30 but doors were at 8:00. Besides us three performers, there are seven people in the room. Three of them work here. Two more are related to me. The soundman asks when we want to start. "8:30", I tell him. His eyes shift around the empty room (the big empty room), then back to me. "So, 15 minutes?" he asks with a tone that states the obvious. "Yeah" I answer, my confidence rapidly leaking out onto the just-swept floor.


This story is hard for me to tell. It gets at the sick heart of my weakness. I am telling you how I feel failure

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I Am Not Winning

Can I offer you my weakness?

This morning I wear a five a clock shadow from a few days in the future. I am unkempt. Outside proof on inside struggle. 

I am not winning.

This Sunday at church, a woman both years and heartaches ahead of me in the faith tells me she is not winning these days. Those words. Not winning. They resonate. I know exactly their meaning. I know them like I know my own holes.

Amen, sister.

Not winning means life feels like a game. With odds. With opponents. With an outcome. With judgement.

Today I am barely holding the pieces of my little house together in a hurricane. Little winds, from every angle. Blowing and testing. I am full of holes and my weakness is whistling. But maybe the tune is beautiful. The storm has gotten a little too loud to hear my own music. So let me play it for you. Maybe the tune is familiar?

Last night I drop my daughter off at gymnastics. I leave no margin of error in my timeline and hit the Oilers crowd head on. Our route inches through that traffic like molasses through a sock. Then I make a wrong turn. I hit a closed road. We are late.

Far too often, I am late. I am that guy. I know this. I hate this. I am working on this. But I am not winning.

I leave to get gas (the light is on) and return to watch her. She is walking towards the car, holding back tears. No. Crying. She is too late and they won’t let her take part. She’s been waiting outside the gym for my return. Alone.

My crying daughter is the mascot of my team. I am not winning.

Life has become a circus act this past few months. Impressive to watch but exhausting to maintain.

A new art space launched. That takes some serious work. Body work and brain work. More work than I have time for. I’m grateful to have a team, but still there is plenty of work. We tore up our basement over the holidays so my house is in disrepair. Everything covered in a thin layer of drywall dust. No place to put a room full of disloged possessions. Days of work still ahead. 

There are the cars. More cars, more problems. Car number one has a battery I resuccitate only to watch it die again. 3 boosts in 2 days. Car number two–the one worth something–is damaged. We lent it to a relative who crashed it into another car. So that happened. The insurance adjuster will come today. There is a deductable to pay. Our rate may increase. We’ll have to take it in for repairs. All of this takes time. 

I don’t have time. I don’t have margins to deal with dead batteries and hockey traffic.

Time is at a premium today. My wife is waiting for a call about a job interview. I’m not sure how its going because she is working odd night shifts this week and we haven’t talked for more than 10 minutes. I am transitioning roles and schedules at work, made more difficult by the fact that I cannot actually get to work with a dead battery. Unless I walk. Which takes yet more time.  

A circus act is impressive, but you cannot stay on that wire forever. My plates are wobbling. The crowd gasps. I fall into the net.

I am not winning.

But this is life, not a zero-sum game. Enter grace.

I awake this morning with the pieces reset. Another chance to live in the balance. Maybe to win or maybe, by the grace of God and friends, to give up the game altogether. To stop keeping score. To simply be here, now, where I must be for a time.

That takes a lot of art, faith, hope and love. Good poetry to read. Good friends to visit. Prayers to pray and promises of care from my Bible. All help. All ringside recovery before the bell rings in the battle. Or the dance.

Lord, make this a dance. Make me a dancer.

We come home last night after my daugther’s tears have dried. I make the best of failure. We play Yahtzee and eat ice cream. By the end my kids are laughing silly. It’s all OK.

There was no final score. 

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