A Facebook note I wrote to a few close friends last week:
Monday, July 25, 2016
I just failed. Big time. And it’s too overwhelming to even have feelings yet. So I’m typing it out to you in the hope that it’ll trigger a big fat ugly cry, or some other emotional outburst, because my brain is in overdrive spin mode to protect my heart.
I rode my bike for 15 of 420 miles of RAGBRAI yesterday. I was overcome by heat exhaustion, anxiety, and under-training in the first 3 hours on the first day. Now I’m home in my own bed. Done for the week on Monday night.
I know where I can and want to land on this epic failure. I have sermons and blog posts in my head already about failing and learning and stretching far enough to find your limits.
But by jumping right to that place I skip the pain, embarrassment, and disappointment, which is nice but not real.
I want to be afraid of other people saying, “I told you so. I knew you couldn’t do it.” But truthfully the loudest voice shouting that right now lives in my own head. (Oh good. It’s working. I’m crying now.) It’s ok. I’m going to be kind to myself. It’s ok to be disappointed and sad. And I’m still lovable that way. Even when I fail. Even if my failure isn’t inspiring to do anything different tomorrow and it just is what it is. Welcome to grace.
God and I are still working on a few things in light of my experience of RAGBRAI 2016. I want so badly to tell you all about how hilly it was, how hot it was, how awful my 2+ day migraine was, and on and on and on about the reasons why I went home on Monday night after only 15 miles of pedaling. (See what I did there?) But, then I miss out on the grace. Oh my goodness, God’s grace is amazing, but it’s also hard to receive sometimes.
The Truth is, that God loves me regardless of how many miles I did or didn’t pedal. God loves me whether I tried hard or not. God loves me when I get excited about new things. God loves me when I am disappointed and embarrassed about things. God loves me even if every single person reading this blogpost is at home laughing and pointing their fingers at me. (I know you’re not. You are good, loving, supportive people who are actually thinking about all of kinds of interesting and important things, not about whether I rode my bike a long way last week.) God loves me. Grace.
God loves you.
I have more to learn and say about failure from this experience. But, that is for another day.
Today, there is just grace.
Brigit Stevens, Associate Conference Minister