07 December, 2005

You will fail this test.

Here are some thoughts I wrote out on Saturday. Warning: this is a bit self-involved and dramatic, more of a journal entry than anything. If you’re not into that kind of thing, consider yourself informed.

I have embarked on a journey, and have started a race. I have entered into a test, one that spans the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional realms. Starting out, it was clear that it would be challenging, even perilous. Undeniably, various mistakes, missteps, and stumbles were expected. But I knew that it was possible to push through the brambles and rough spots and come out victorious and strong in the end.

And I was wrong. 3 months in and 8 to go and I am spent. I wish that someone would have sat me down in the beginning and slowly and sternly stated “You will fail this test.” I would not have believed this or understood it- I still don’t understand it. But maybe if it were repeated again and again and again it would have started to sink in.

There is no possible way that I could have NOT come to this point. And I’m not talking about normal, “small” failures and mistakes- like an unkind word or poor decision. Things like that trip you up and take some clarification, backtracking, or apology, but in general can be repaired or let go of.

What I mean by ‘failure’ is not so much an event, but more of a state. Total, complete, I’ve-fallen-on-my-face-in-the-mud-and-am-having-a-nervous-breakdown style failure. The type of malfunction that is irreparable, inexcusable, seriously noticeable and disastrous. The sort of thing that you can’t explain, ignore, or recover from alone. Some helpful thoughts from the dictionary on the concept of failure are: to be unsuccessful in trying to do something; to be incapable of doing something, or choose not to do something; to fall short of the standard required to pass an examination or course; to stop working, or not perform or grow as expected; to let somebody down by not doing what is expected or needed, or abandon or forsake somebody; to lose strength, loudness, or brightness. Pretty much everything written there describes the state that I am in.

Why was this inevitable? Why must I have failed? And so spectacularly? Because this year isn’t a game I can win. It is only a journey that can be experienced, and I think that coming undone is an essential part of it. It’s not so much about falling down and getting back up as it is about absolutely falling apart and being remade. And I have come undone.

The weekly schedule needs to be revamped. We need to come up with a campus plan or something for this year. My monthly letter is late. I have hurt or offended or pissed off or annoyed every single person on the team at some point in the last week. I haven’t even thought about my Croatian language homework. There are literally hundreds of emails in my inbox to reply to. Taylor, Michelle, and I are sleeping in one bed and the ceiling is leaking. We don’t know how to pay our electric bill. There is a mouse living in our kitchen. There are dozens of students I still need to meet with. The team is exhausted and disconnected and certainly not refreshed. Andy’s birthday is tomorrow and Taylor’s is on Wednesday. Three people are going to Zagreb in the morning, two or three more have to go to Trieste on Monday to get a prescription filled before our tourist visas expire, and the remnant will limp along here.

And Katie died today.

In all of this, the Lord my God is Good and Just and Sovereign and Majestic and Holy and Compassionate and this is truly where hope is found. As Paul says: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
And when I am here in this place, I hear God saying to me:
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

Praise Him.


sarah may said...

I know this is a hard time. And it will most likely not ease up for a while. I would recommend Pastor Mark's sermon from this past Sunday as it hits where you are at in a very real way.
It's the one titled "Jesus Died as Our Example"
Take a moment to listen to it.

Please know that you are always welcome to come take a break and stay with Will and I in Zurich.

Much love to you. You're in our prayers.

Kathryn said...

Hang in there, Alexis. Your old community group is praying for you as well, and for your team.

Romans 15:5-6
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Your journey in Croatia is a witness to us here in Seattle, a blessing and an inspiration to know your experiences and your trials. We are so encouraged by your strength and your turning to God in this difficult time. Please keep us updated.

pete zagorda said...

Alexis is cool!

Amie said...


I always think that anything worth doing is going to have mistakes and wrong turns and failures. I also think attempting and trying is more than half of the actual "doing." I know you well enough to know that you are hard on yourself and I'm sure that all of us see you and see what an amazing person you are and what an amazing thing you are doing.

As for Katie, the only thing I keep coming back to is to trust God. There are no explainations that we on earth can come up with. We are too small to understand. But He does. And he's in control.

You, everyone in your group and Katie's family is in my prayers.