Becoming Okay With Failure: My Mental Health

She’s wondering where the food is.

Readers, thank you for your patience as I have not been writing much lately. It seems like yesterday that I wrote to you all announcing the birth of my baby girl. Since then, I’ve been living in a blur of joys and poopie diapers. I was fortunate enough to have two months of paternity leave. That time has come and gone and now I have been back to work for nearly a month.

As I write this, I am enjoying my Thanksgiving break, or as I am calling it right now daddy daughter date day two (April went back to work yesterday for the first time in three months!). Sofia is sitting in her swing across the room, fortunately she is sound asleep (at least for now, but she’ll be awake and hungry any moment now), so I have a little time to share with you some of the things I have been thinking about through this current season.

Sofia when she found out I was watching her for the day!

I’ve been thinking about therapy. In October it seemed like everyone was emphasizing the importance of mental heath. Well, earlier this year I took the plunge. I finally decided to start going to a therapist. I think I may have mentioned struggling with sleep anxiety and I may have even mentioned going to a therapist before. But here’s the deal, it still feels like I shouldn’t be talking about all of this, especially at the end of my two month paternity leave.

Like why should I be bringing up how I am struggling when I have only worked six weeks since August and over the last 18 months I’ve mostly been able to work from home. Shouldn’t I be all refreshed? Through this time God has blessed me with more time with April, two cute doggies, and now the cutest little girl ever. Yet, I am sure you all can find common ground with me as fear has crept in. What if I fail at all this? What if I can only handle being home and going into work is too much for me?

April is the real rock in our family.

That is where the wisdom of my therapist comes in. Failure must be an option. I will be okay if any of my classes go badly, if I have a bad review, if someone at work says something offensive to me, or even if I am fired from my job. Yet, these are the fears that often wake me up at night. I will even be okay if I do not sleep well or at all.

So the other night as I was trying to fall back to sleep I decided to expect God to show up and take care of my day. It is clear I can’t make things work on my own. And the more I think about it, I am not supposed to. Somehow men have taken on the idea that to be a man we must be able to handle everything and never ask for help. That’s a direct slap in God’s face. He created us to need him. I have come to find that my days go better when I give up my desire to do it all on my own and ask God to show up.

Sometimes God showing up is something small like last week when one of my students brought me homemade Moroccan bread or when different coworkers and students have asked me about Sofia. Those small acts of kindness remind me that God is in my day. He cares about my joy. And if I know God shows up in the small things, then I know he will take care of me when the hard days come. So when I start to fear failing at my job or at being a dad, God reminds me that He will meet me there. Maybe that is what He meant when He said do not be afraid because he will be there in the midst of it all.

For me, that thought takes all the pressure off of me and it allows me the freedom to love on my baby girl which I need to go do as she is waking up from her nap. Pray that daddy date day two and three go smoothly or that if I fail at something with my little girl God shows up like he promised.

Teaching my little girl to read.

What Am I Becoming?

Five years ago I met a woman who has changed my life. Yes, I am talking about April! We met five years ago tonight on a Valentine’s Date. Do you want to go see Pride and Prejudice And Zombies I had asked. No pressure I had said.. That night I wasn’t thinking about what I would become over the next five years. I just wanted to watch a fun movie and maybe go on a good date, but I went in with an open heart and because of that God has helped be become more.

I am still in awe that April has stuck by me for the last five years. Her love for me makes me want to become even more of the man God meant for me to be when he first meant me. Because of April I want to spend the next five years being intentional with who I grow into.

I’ve heard it said that we become more like the people we spend time with, meaning we should spend our time wisely and be even more careful about with whom we spend that time. But after a year of isolation I don’t just want to become a random assortment of my favorite movie heroes, tv show personalities, nor my dogs. Yes, April and I spent hours together and I think we might start wearing matching clothes soon. Well, as long as she’s okay wearing sweats all day.

However we end up dressing, April and I did watch roughly 162 movies last year, that’s three a week, and several complete series on Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and Apple +. Like you, I enjoy relaxing in front of my TV and I love going to the movies, but I haven’t stepped inside a movie theater in nearly a year at this point. I miss it, but I found if April and I were purposeful with our viewing the movies and TV shows we watched really did add to my life. The best thing April and I did last year was set a viewing schedule which made for great spy movies on Thursdays and Hitchcock and other mystery thrillers on Fridays. It helped break up the monotony of being home and through it all I found many beautiful adventures. With my eyes open to the heart of each character in the movies and TV shows we watched I’ve decided I do not want to become like James Bond (we watched all but the Roger Moore Bond movies last year). James Bond might always save the day, but Jack Ryan is more of the type of man I would like to become (We watched all of the old Harrison Ford Jack Ryan Movies). He is not afraid to speak up for what is right, he takes risks, he owns up for his mistakes, and he would do anything to protect his family. But this year I want this year to be something more than a movie watcher.

As 2020 was a year I looked for a beautiful adventure in everything, 2021 is going to be my year of becoming.

I could become more like my dogs Gryffin and Phoenix and make sure I am planted in good soil. That’s right, my dogs! We brought Phoenix home on New Years Day! They are both so lovable. But if I were to become more like them, I would need to start relying on someone other than myself for my daily care which might not be a bad thing, but then I would need to nap in a crate for nearly 16 hours a day. I would also need to become way more interested in sniffing butts. My boys are also great at being joyful adventurers. When I take them for a walk, they stop and smell everything that attracts them. Maybe I need to become more like my dogs and open all of my senses to the world around me, especially the treats. Gryffin is currently sniffing out all of the treats I have hidden around the house. God has probably hidden a few treats around his world for me to find.

I could become more like my wife. April is direct and gracious. If I have accidentally hurt her she is not afraid to confront me. Because she is willing to lean into conflict with me, I know she loves me and it makes me a better man. She makes me want to be brave enough to listen to criticism so that I can grow into the husband she deserves. The other day she called me out for being short with her. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t perceive what I had said as short or that I had snapped at her. She took it that way, so I apologized. If I want to become a better husband I must listen to her. April is also the most thoughtful person I know. If I want to become more like my wife you all would benefit so much from it. This last weekend she decided to bake her coworkers homemade doughnuts just so she could announce some huge news. Who does that? When I have something special happen for me, I want people to lavish things on me. No, she is the opposite and because of that she challenges me to become a more giving man.

Yet becoming is a process. It is taking time to work on becoming better at something. It is taking risks and trying something new.

I want to become a better steward of my home. I want to become a better outdoorsman. I want to become a better listener, lover, leader, writer, warrior, healer, servant, teacher, follower, friend, uncle, and communicator. But if I want to become all of these things I need to take the time and go slow. So that is what I am going to dedicate to doing this year.

Especially in the biggest area that I am becoming, a father!

On January, 3rd April and I found out that we are expecting and so we are becoming a true family! I am scared, but excited too. I want to have this posture of becoming which to me means I am allowing myself to be under construction. God is going to help me become a father therefore I do not need to expect perfection at being a girl dad all at once. That’s right, we found out yesterday that we are having a girl!

So pray for me that I allow God to help be become a better man, husband, and now future father of an awesome little girl!