I Can Be a Failure: Thoughts on Christian Identity

by Holly Ordway

I Can Be a FailureI struggle with what I call the shadow: my name for that sudden darkening of my inner vision, the acedia or spiritual apathy, the gray and muffling pall of depression. Sometimes it is mercifully absent from my inner horizon for days or weeks; other times it is hovers, vaguely threatening, in my peripheral vision.

I’ve tried fighting back: asserting, in the face of crippling self-doubt, that I have so much evidence of my own accomplishments that the shadow is absurd. Unfortunately, the positive-thinking route does not work. It has been more effective to accept the reality of the feeling while intellectually recognizing that it is based on a lie, a distortion of reality. Better yet has been to also offer up my sadness to the Lord in prayer, and turn my thoughts deliberately toward gratitude for all the good things in my life, which are many – to be grateful, even if I don’t feel happy.

Today, I was ambushed by the shadow. As I came home from work, it fell without warning across my inner vision, and all went gray. What if my writing is not as good as I think it is? What if my colleagues don’t really respect me? What if my self-image as a good teacher is just that, an image, and the reality is that I don’t help my students as much as I think I do?

Interwoven with this self-doubt was anger at my own self-pity. What have I got to be depressed about? Even just a few days ago, I had been reflecting with cheerful gratitude on all the good things in my life. I hated my own weakness, yet I knew that I could not argue myself out of this mood. Whether or not the feelings were justified, I felt like I was a failure. And the feeling impeded my work – just as the Enemy intended, I imagine.

I felt ill and tired. I wanted to work, but knew from experience that I would not be productive. I decided to take a nap instead. I took a couple of Advil and crawled into bed. My mind wanted to fret over these self-doubts, pull them to pieces, but I resisted, and instead prayed: Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord have mercy… Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord have mercy

I drifted off into an odd half-sleeping, half-waking state. Not for long, really. But then I woke all the way up – totally awake – with an insight as clear in my mind as if it were a physical object placed in my hands.

It is not necessary for me to be a success – in anything.

I can be a failure…


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