Do you have a friend like my Katie? You know the type – the luminous, marvelous ones somehow blind to their own light and heat? Everyone who knows her adores her. She is radiant and magnetic, and loves her friends like a mama bear. I wish so often she could see herself through my eyes just for a moment, and witness the beauty we all see, inside and out.
If I could put an emoji to our friendship (not counting the red wine glass), it would be that shocked-face emoji, hands slapped to the cheeks. We’ve spent so many chats amazed, exclaiming, “You do?? Me too!” We’ve shared our struggles with insecurity and broken faith and loneliness, learning from each other’s steps forward and, occasionally, steps back, but always seeking healing and hope.
Not too long ago, during one of these many conversations, it broke my heart to listen to Katie be so very hard on herself, beating herself up for a handful of perceived failures in her day. She spoke of the weight she felt day after day, one on top of the other, never succeeding at being the woman she wanted to be. I could just feel her dragging a pile of emotional scrap metal around, carrying each day’s disappointments into the next until it was simply too heavy and she want to crawl inside it and hide.
Having been there myself, and survived, I told her about the 51%.
“Huh?” Fair question.
The 51% – it’s the enough. The offset. The sweet in the bittersweet.
I spent far too many years of my life grasping for the 100% or emptying to the 0%, the all or nothing life. “Well,” I’d think, “if I blew my diet at lunch today, I just binge completely.” Or, “Well, if I can’t have the perfect relationship, I just won’t date anyone ever.” And a personal favorite, “Well, if I’m not flawless at this faith thing, I’ll just ignore God altogether.”
But the good life, it’s in the 51%. It’s making peace with the days when yes, maybe you fail yourself spectacularly. You snap at your family or spend money wastefully or let down the colleague who was counting on you to do your part. You look back over the hours and maybe find you just didn’t like that person you were today one bit. The scales tipped the wrong way today.
Don’t stop there. You are not only today’s you. Yes, that 49% is in your story, but put that day away, get some sleep, and mend your fences, because the secret to hope and growth is that you get to try again tomorrow, taking all your new wisdom with you and leaving the missteps behind. Groundhog Day, Bill Murray fans?
When I’ve had the very worst day can I recall, when I am exhausted or deeply disappointed in myself, I lie down right and sleep amidst all the unanswered questions and unfinished business, because I find comfort in the fact that the sun doesn’t need my assistance to rise or my permission to set. My failures didn’t stop the world from spinning. Life is bigger than today, and it’s bigger than me, and tomorrow is another chance to get a little bit more right.