I remember being placed in the lowest level reading group in 1st grade.
There were four different groups, and they each had names. The best group was the butterflies--what little girl doesn't want to be a butterfly? But Miss Brian put me in the ant group--the ugly, brown ant. I worked so very hard to get out of that group, and at the end of the year I was supposed to get an award for my reading because I had improved so drastically. (I don't say this to give myself any kind of accolade because my mother worked extremely hard with me to help me with my reading.) However, politics won out, and because my mom wore pants and was probably not going to be allowed into heaven because of that, they gave the award to a church member. (You think I'm joking, but they really had issues with my mom wearing jeans!) To a 1st grader, all you understand from that is that you weren't good enough. Failure.
In 2nd grade, I can remember taking a math quiz and getting it back to discover I had failed it. I didn't even know what a failing grade was until then, and it embarrassed me so much. From then on, I told myself I was no good at math. Failure.
I begged and begged my parents to let me take piano lessons as a little girl, but they were told by someone that my fingers were too short and stubby to make a good pianist, so they resisted for quite some time on allowing me to take lessons. Failure.
But academics were nothing compared to my total failure at anything with athletics. To this day, I absolutely detest basketball, probably because when I tried to play, I was laughed at so much by the other players. I was completely humiliated. Failure.
In junior high, I decided I was going to become a runner. I remember some girls I was running with laughing at me afterwards and telling me how awful I was at running. Failure.
But quite possibly the biggest feeling of failure was when DH and I tried to expand our family. My body felt broken, as it was unable to do what it was "supposed" to do. Failure...
Well, though I'm certainly no book worm now, reading is no longer a struggle. I read constantly as a child and I think that's what helped me develop such a love for writing.
And no, I will never win the Van Cliburn, but the Lord softened my parents' hearts to allow me to take lessons, and through that gift I learned how to express myself through music.
There's no cinderella story for me to tell you about basketball. They say white men can't jump though, so I'll just blame this one on genetics;)
And running? People still probably laugh at me when they see me training, but I have ran 5ks, 10ks, and have completed several sprint triathlons. I would never consider myself an actual athlete, and I would be lying if I told you those girls' voices don't often haunt me when I find myself breathless during a run and having to take a walking break.
And as for expanding our family...the Lord had such better plans for that than our dreams could have ever reached for. When I look at my three children and see how The Lord brought each of them into our arms in such unique ways, I'm filled with such a sense of humbled awe that He would choose me to be their mother.
I don't share all of this with you to portray a "woe as me" attitude or to try to get a bunch of compliments. I share this with you to give you a small picture of how I have often lived my life with an attitude of total defeat. I have found myself feeling so "less than" from everyone else. I have so often felt not good enough. But you know what finally helped me turn my failure into victory? When I stopped trying so hard to succeed. You see, I AM incapable, but I am so thankful now that I'm incapable! Because when I realize how weak I truly am, I finally can begin to take the focus off of ME and place it on the One who is more than capable. "When I am weak, THEN am I made strong..."