I took a French language class last year. That’s because in my wildest dreams I see myself spending a week in Paris eating croissants at a little neighborhood café and awkwardly practicing my French as I greet shopkeepers: “Bonjour, madame! Bonjour, monsieur!” This is probably a pipe dream, but I thought I’d try to prepare myself just in case.
My French teacher told me that music is a great tool for learning language, so I bought two French CDs, one of them of children’s songs. I laughed out loud at many of the songs but was particularly drawn to one called “Wonderful.” It surprised me because it was sung in a light, lyrical way but dealt with such a complex subject. The singer sings, “I wish I were wonderful . . . so that you may finally appreciate me.” Ah, I said to myself, I can relate to that!
If you’re anything like me, you may suffer from some insecurity and feel, at times, that others don’t value you. Perhaps you feel that you’re not good enough or smart enough or successful enough or charming and likable enough—or “normal” enough.
I’ve tried for many years to be wonderful but I just can’t seem to get the hang of it. So when I read the book The Awakened Heart by Gerald May I was consoled. May says, “Functional people are organized and disciplined, and able to get what they want out of life. . . . I’m so dysfunctional, I can’t even figure out how to become functional. And it is alright.”
All right?? May goes on to say, “It has been more my failures than my successes that have opened me to love. . . . Grace is love happening, love in action, and I have seen so much grace in the midst of so much brokenness in myself and others that I know we are all in love. We are in love, within love, as fish are in the sea and clouds are in the sky.”
By focusing on what I thought my culture expected of me—a “successful” life—I concluded that there was nothing I could do to make things whole or healed but to do my best, be honest about my failures, practice forgiveness and tenderness toward myself and others, and yield to divine providence.
I am increasingly convinced that I am living in love despite my failures because God “has loved me into existence.” I still don’t consider myself charming or successful, but I am now more at peace with my own life, more accepting. And gratitude is growing inside of me like some kind of wild bush planted in rich soil. I feel like I’m in good company with other “dysfunctional” people like Jacob, Sarah, Jonah, and the woman Jesus met at the well—people without an ounce of efficiency to bail themselves out of terrible spots but who ended up on their knees, bowing before the great love that engulfed them.
So now I roll down the windows in the car and practice my French by singing with gusto, “Je voudrais être extraordinaire pour qu’enfin tu me considères.” You never know what the future holds. But I’m sure that no matter where I find myself, love holds me.
We are put on earth a little space, That we may learn to bear the beams of love. —William Blake