October 13, 2016

Afraid to Succeed

What if I fail?  What if it is hard? What if I am alone? What if no one loves me? What if I am always broken? What if I can’t find my way? What if I try and I ruin everything? What if no one sees my efforts? What if everything I do is for nothing? What if I succeed?

It often seems that just when we think we have life all figured out, something changes. And change is scary. For the most part, we are all comfortable where we are—because where we are now is familiar. Even if that place is toxic or abusive, it can still feel scary for something to change.  Failure is daunting, but in many of us—so is success.

So I ask you this one question: WHY are we afraid to change? Why are we afraid of the unexpected? Why do we panic when things don’t go our way—or feel insignificant and unworthy when they do?

Because stepping outside of what is familiar means letting go of our plan. And for most of us, that means we think we did something wrong—or something wrong was done to us. And many times when we succeed we still have doubts on if we deserved or can handle what comes next. 

So today I want to present a new thought. How can we become comfortable with living with the unexpected? How can we still find joy when our plans change? 

We must live with intention. How you ask? How can we live intentionally in a life that is constantly changing what we have planned? Here are some ideas . . .

We have to lose our expectations.

Too often we mistake what should be—or will be—with what we think has to be. We set unrealistic expectations for the people in our life, and for ourselves. And these expectations will almost always fail us. Because just like our life plan, when we expect a desired outcome out of someone else, they—more often than not—will not respond the same in real life as we had pictured them doing in our mind.

For example: Lets say today I spend all day doing the laundry and cleaning my house to show my family that they are loved, and have this image in my mind that when they walk in the door they are going to celebrate the efforts and time I put into a clean house . . . they are going to be loving and helpful and give me that same love in return. My thought is this—because I have made an effort and sacrifice in my love for my family—they sure as heck better come in with smiles and complements . . . or else all my efforts will feel like they were in vain. So I know how my love should be received and how I will receive love in return. Plan set. Ready go.

So with that expectation set in my mind, let me tell you how this kind of day really goes down . . .

I bust my butt all day. Laundry. Dishes. Beds. Toilets. Carpet. Dog poo. Water the bunny. Feed the fish.  Vacuum. Scrub. Mop. Plunge. Organize. Dust. Scour. Wipe. Sweep.

The house is shinning when the first child walks in the door. He is frustrated with the lunch selection that came from a pot of leftovers. Annoying, but we work it out. Homework. Art project. The twins are home before we know it. Remember they have homework to do. Fighting about who will use the computer first—mom is referee. Elementary kids get home. More homework. After school snacks. Breaking up small battles about Pokemon cards. Packing lunches for tomorrow. Cleaning up snacks. Soccer. Dance. Basketball. Scouts. Voice lessons. Home again. Send kids up to shower. Just then husband walks in the door from his own long day. “Hey baby. You look cute in those sweats. What’s for dinner?”

Dinner . . . I never forget about dinner. But I just did. Time freezes for a few seconds as I look around the house, hoping so desperately that he will notice all the things I did do that day. Knowing that his approval of them will help me feel important and loved.  I look around the kitchen, then over to the family room. Chaos. Messes everywhere. You would never in a million years guess that cleaning had been any part of my day. Not one square inch of the house looks like it had been touched in weeks. My heart sinks. Everything I had done to show my husband and kids that they were loved—was a waste. Nothing to show for it. Irritated . . . and hungry. Longing for just one of them to see my efforts.

Sometimes in this moment with my expectations so defeated, I have snapped back with a, “Dinner? Are you kidding me . . . do you not see everything I had to do today?” and then go about listing all the errands run and cleaning achieved. Other times I have silently—with an internal pity party, that no one had noticed my sacrifices—started heating up a can of soup. All the while feeling defeated, unloved, unappreciated, and invisible. Waiting around for someone to tell me that what I did that day was seen. As if that simple acknowledgment was my lifeline.

This is what I mean by living with expectations. And it can happen in literally every setting and any interaction we have with ourselves, or another person. Even simple things, like letting someone merge in front of us . . . expecting a wave or an acknowledgment of our kindness, can lead us to having a horrible day. Doing an extra project at work, and believing that our boss will notice and praise—is an expectation that will most likely lose.

Living with expectations sets us up to fail—because it puts power into a plan—our plan.

So how do we live intentionally, so that our own expectations do not become our very demise? How do we live so that we act and not react to life?

First off, we have to see others. Stepping outside ourselves does not take any expectations. Because when we are truly open to helping and loving another person, we don’t do it for ourselves. We do it for them.

If what I want to gain from scrubbing floors and cleaning up crap is a stroke to my mommy ego . . . then I am not serving my family—I am serving myself.  To live intentionally we have to do this life on purpose. Living with purpose does not require our own plan—but it does take a lot of faith.

The days don’t change much—the ones we live with intention—but our fears do. Fear of being unseen, fear of being invisible and forgotten . . . those are what drive us to live for ourselves. But the love of another person, that is what empowers us to live for them. We act, instead of react to the environments we are placed in.

Sacrifices made become less of a need to be acknowledged and more of an acknowledgment of another person’s needs. 

We cannot set out to serve, expecting anything in return. God sees our efforts. He sees the love we have given, and understands how hard it is when we feel we haven’t received it back. We have to turn to Him for that approval—ask Him what is next in His plan.

I can promise you—you will fail, but even more—you will succeed. Both of these can be scary in their own way, because in both, things will change. Change means we are growing. Some changes are hard. Some are exciting. But to become the refined and beautiful person we must become—we first have to live with intention instead of expectation. Success and failure will begin to be gaged on how we treat others instead of how we are treated.

With a purpose of living for God, we can serve others . . . even those who do not see us. We can love, even those who do not love us back. And we can use our words and our actions with clarity instead of fear.

He sees you. He honors you. He respects you. Do it all for Him. Then at the end of the day . . . thank Him for the blessing it was to serve . . . and to love on purpose. Our lives were meant to be lived with faith and intention, directed by His plan.


Don’t be afraid of failure—it will make you stronger. But even more, don’t be afraid to succeed. It is why you are here. To find your purpose in His plan, and your worth in His love for you. 

You are enough. Today, yesterday . . . and for every tomorrow to come.







So what are you afraid of? What is it costing you? How would your life be different without it? What is your first step to achieving it?


6 comments:

carolyne b said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. When I am going through a challenging time, I remember I am enough, I am a daughter of our Heavenly Father, He has a plan.
2 years ago, my husband informed me he was not happy and he was leaving me. Although life wasn't perfect; is it ever. I thought we were happy. Fast forward 2 years. I had to sell our house as I couldn't afford the mortgage on my own and thank goodness there was enough money left for me to buy something smaller. Tender Mercies! In April I found out he had a girlfriend who has children of her own.....sad moment and struggling to now accept we aren't ever getting back together. Finally a divorce is near. Moving forward, towards the unknown, a path that Heavenly Father sees. A path and plan that is better. But Ashley.....I am enough! I'm afraid of what is ahead, but I have faith and trust. Thank you for being so open and honest.

Ashlee and Shawn said...

I love it Carolyne! You are enough. I am so thankful you are seeing that! Keep fighting girl! You are strong!

Dear Diary said...

I have read your blog posts many times. Like so many others, I discovered you through a Dr. Phil episode and have felt a crushing sadness through reading your story. I find your posts so incredibly insightful and very well written. I am someone who appreciates an open book approach, rather than masking the pain and trying to appear stronger than someone else. I got divorced 4 years ago, and although I'm the one that initiated it, it is an experience that has brought me to my knees time and again. I have struggled my way back from a desperate and dark place and, at times, feel peace with the way things are. My heart continues to ache for my three children who inevitably have to suffer from the lingering effects. I didn't have hate for my ex husband initially, but hate has slowly crept into my heart because of choices he's made since our divorce. I find that in the moments I'm most desperate to feel Heavenly Father's reassurance and peace, He is silent. And it has caused me to question if there really is a God that loves each of us. Or, why He loves others, but not me. I long to feel what others have felt...what you've described in many of your posts...a piercing to the very core of your being. Something that is unmistakably sent from God. This life is so hard. And I find that the moments of joy are so few and far between. Is it just a matter of perspective? Is it choosing to believe that God is in my life, even though I don't actually feel it? What is it? What is the answer? Because I feel so incredibly alone in this journey.

Ashlee and Shawn said...

I think so many times we dont realize when something is God's hand in our life...because it comes as a small glimmer of light at times that are so full of darkness. I think some people have the gift to be able to see that easily...and the rest of us have to fight for it. For me the darkness comes easy, but I want to find the good, the love, and the light. So for me, the challenge is to get rid of the dark so the light has room to shine. I promise you, this challenge is real. And there are so many opposing forces trying to stop us from fighting through its mists of darkness. Keep fighting! Keep praying for those angels to come and bring that light. Keep begging for that relationship you seek with God...keep fighting for grace to help you feel your worth and find your truths. God loves you! He believes in you. You email me anytime! I don't have all the answers, but I do understand this fight...as I am fighting it as well!

Dear Diary said...

Thank you for your reply to my comment!!! I bawled my eyes out when I read it! I would love to email you...do you have an email address?

Ashlee and Shawn said...

Themomentswestand@gmail.com

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