Several years ago, when I was in college, I made a feeble attempt at starting a jewellery business. I made the pieces myself out of beaded crystal, glass, pearls, and other stones. I went to a few small boutiques around town to show my work and hopefully make some sales. It was a flop. I never sold more than a few pieces and those were to friends. Most of the pieces ended up as a gift to my mom. They’re still displayed on her dresser and she wears them frequently.
This morning, just a few minutes ago in fact, I was getting dressed, looking for something comfortable to wear. I pulled a black cotton dress out of my closet and was immediately hit by a wave of memory. I had worn this dress while in labor with my son. As I pulled it off the hanger I questioned whether or not I really wanted to wear this today. I don’t think I’ve put it on since he was born. The labor was long, excruciating, and in the end I had an emergency c-section, something I struggled with for a long time. It had not gone according to plan. It was unnatural, traumatising, and left me feeling like a failure.
The dress, the jewellery, and so many other reminders of past failures confront me every day, especially here in this house where I grew up. Most of the time I ignore the scars that time has softened, but today they seem unavoidable. So, I’ve decided not to avoid them.
Sometimes when my morning coffee has yet to take its full effect I have moments of lucidity. I think maybe part of my mind is still in the world of dreams and so allows me to consider things that my fully-awake brain can’t handle. This morning, as I was remembering my failed jewelery business, a question came to me: What might my life have become if I had succeeded instead? I followed this train of thought and considered where I might be, what I might be doing at this point in my life. I saw a bored business woman who gave up on college, had no husband or child and certainly no time to write.
How many other “failures” ultimately led me away from a path that wasn’t what I truly wanted?
After K was born I had a lot of recovering to do. I wasn’t able to care for him at all for the first few days which meant Ray had to do pretty much everything for him. He gave him his first bath, changed his first diaper, dressed him, everything. I was distraught with disappointment and the guilt clung to me for a long time afterwards. But then one day I started to notice something: K absolutely adores his Daddy in a way I’ve never seen in any other child.
I am somewhat of a control freak, I admit it. If K’s birth had gone as planned, I would have insisted on doing everything for K myself. I would have prevented the bonding that took place between father and son that is so precious to me now.
My time in Arab culture has taught me some things. One of the most valuable is the idea, the perspective of life, that we are not in control of our destinies. They are decided for us by forces beyond our comprehension. This could make for it’s own lengthy post, but I’ll keep it brief for now. How might our lives be different if we saw our failures through such a lens? I can’t take complete blame for those things that didn’t go as planned because they were never meant to be. The other side to that coin is that I owe any success to the destiny God designed before my existence.
I’m wearing the black cotton dress now as I write this. I am wearing it in celebration of my failures which have ultimately led me to success, neither of which I can take full credit for. I am wearing it with a sense of gratitude that I have been kept from my own designs, and thankfulness that despite my best attempts, I have been led towards a life of joy and fulfilment.
What is your black dress?