What I’ve Learned Through Success and Failure

I remember reading once how Americans like to cheer on the underdog but once the underdog becomes a success, they then work to tear that person down. I wish that statement weren’t true but it has been true for me.

The first time I started out in business I did have detractors (and you can always find those) but more than that I had an intense drive to succeed and move past the modest upbringing I had grown up in.  I found once I started telling people my plans a lot of them encouraged me and some even took that a step further, and made phone calls on my behalf or referred me to people who might need my services.  Those kind souls were undoubtedly what helped me reach a certain level of achievement I didn’t think I could get to–and couldn’t have if I tried to do it on my own.

I found with cheering from others and the steady stream of projects and checks coming I became more confident and that helped propel me further.  I really was sending myself into the American dream I had always wanted–The big house, the designer clothes and car, and friends to match. It didn’t even seem to matter that I had gone through a divorce and I barely noticed people taking advantage of me–Sometimes only hanging around because they wanted to be a part of this upswing I was quickly shifting into–I was having too much fun to notice, or so I thought.

The kink in this so-called dream life would show up whenever I slowed down a little from the normal busy routine I kept.  I knew there was a spiritual element in my life that was missing and I thought I had found it in learning how to meditate and get spiritual guidance through practices I was learning.  I believed I could make my intentions known to the universe and would be granted those desires if I asked.  And, a lot of the time the practice worked. The problem was that no matter what I received, it wasn’t enough.  I wasn’t filling the hole that was in me so I kept seeking.  I didn’t even know what the hole was, I just knew I wanted more.

More problems came though.  The first one was when I lost a main business account.  It was a hard hit but I could still maintain a pretty good lifestyle with the other projects I had going on so I didn’t worry too much.  I just downgraded from a planned bicycling trip to Switzerland to a road trip to Colorado’s Ouray, America’s Switzerland.

During this time I was still seeking spiritually.  I had connected with others who called themselves spiritual but not religious.  Some of the people I ran into had really wild ideas that I thought were going too far.  One discussion I had with a man who was living “off the grid” in a mountain cabin talked about a “spiritual” conference he went to where they were calling up women on stage to cat call them names I won’t mention here. Let’s just say it was degrading and I had no idea how they could categorize that activity as “spiritual”.  So, then the question I started asking was where do you draw the line?  I seemed to be wavering in what I thought was right and wrong and the other spiritual but not religious people were all over the map in what they thought was OK.  So, were we all just supposed to be fine with our own ideas on how to navigate life and be good with others who didn’t share our ideas?  I saw a lot of bumper stickers promoting this Coexistence.

The questions in me still weren’t answered though.  I didn’t really like that I kept changing my views.  What really were my views, anyway?  They seemed to change with each new class or modality that came through town.  Sometimes on Sunday mornings I would watch Joel Osteen but didn’t go to church. I had given up on what I thought was no life in the church services I had been going to. One day though, I learned Osteen would be in San Diego so I purchased tickets and persuaded my then-boyfriend to go with me.

During that service, I whispered the prayer he asks people to say at the end of his program “Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins, come into my heart, wash me clean.  I make you my Lord and savior.”  I said it with the idea that I’d see if it would work or not.  I didn’t notice anything change after that and it took me another couple of years before I went back into a church service.  I was still practicing meditation and intentions but my life was also still unraveling.

My business, too, was continuing to downward spiral. Clients were cutting advertising budgets. For the first time since college, I started worrying about my finances. Was I going to be able to meet all my financial commitments?  I started to worry and stay home more. I wasn’t as much fun to be around. The constant phone calls from friends were turning into dribbles.

The economy was in distress and so was I. I got a roommate and started working a part-time evening job.  I was exhausted but cut out a lot of the excess in my life and felt that with hard work I could turn things around.   I had stepped into church numerous times by this point and there came a time when I realized all my own efforts weren’t working.  I knew I couldn’t keep managing my life on my own and asked God to take it over.

I became consumed with passion for God and couldn’t stop reading the bible, listening to sermons, singing praise music, and talking to people about my experiences. I hunkered down even more and learned about God’s principles and way of living. All my previous ideas about Christ were so wrong. This was love like I had never experienced before. Why hadn’t anyone ever told me about this?  Why did He have such a bad image?  But being a Christian was a whole new way of living and it was hard.  It still is hard.  By this point, most of my friends were out of the picture and it was me and God and a lot of interaction with people at church.

Unlike the quick upswing I had with the meditation practices and intentions, God’s groundwork has taken time. He works on foundations of things and wants strong roots and healing on all levels.  It takes a lot of patience–one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit–probably one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn.

So as I enter into four years of working on foundational principles and what has appeared to be little outward growth, I now believe that I can start climbing up that mountain of success. It’s a different mountain than I climbed before, but I’ve got a partner this time that won’t let me down, will guide me each step of the way and will never leave me regardless of who is or is not cheering me on.

Coffee-for-Your-Heart-150Coffee For Your Heart is a weekly challenge with Holley Gerth. Click on the heart to the left to find out how you can participate in this challenge too.

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