There is no way we can save this. No hope that we’ll ever work out our problems. We’re too different. Too far gone. We just have to accept it as irretrievable. Unfixable.

One too many conversations and sessions of introspection during this end of year have brought an unexpected heaviness to the season of joy and light.

My year-in-review not according to Facebook would look more like this: Relationships that are irreparable, strained beyond salvaging, a personality that has regrettably aggravated those said relationships and grieved many others through my leadership.

It’s not a pity party as I lie in bed at night, drifting in and out of sleepiness and sombreness; I know it is grace to be given the clear second chance to rectify, improve, put right. But as my heart beats rapidly in my chest, the familiar anxiety ringing in my ears, I can’t help but feel like I’ve come to an impasse.

“You and I have personalities that are very disharmonious. We’ll never really get along.”
“Your style is very creative, but it’s too freestyle for those of us who need structure.”
“You are passionate, but you need to learn control, measure and discipline.”

On the mature side of things, feedback is neither positive or negative – it’s just an account of how others are experiencing you and it’s what you do with it that matters. But in a dark room with my energy almost completely drained from another demanding day, the chorus of voices on replay sounds more like failure.
A failure to lead. A failure to be a good influence. A failure of personality. A failure of responsibilities. A failure at adulting. A failure at friendships. Can so many things be wrong with one person?

Feedback is neither positive or negative – it’s what you do with it that matters.

What really kills me is the irreconcilable differences. That as much as there’s no excuses and always room for adjustments and middle grounds, I am me and other people never will be.

I will – and won’t – like things and methods and ideas that other people may not – or may. I will be too loud, too experimental, too emotional to some, even those who try their best to love me.

And so I have no answers to how I will ever be anything enough for anyone. It’s a stalemate, and the thing about stalemates is … It’s game over.

But despite the aching loneliness of falling short where others don’t seem to, I’m not alone. We all have stalemates – our impossibles – that we cannot reconcile for the life of us, no matter what we try to do or think or be.

More than in our relationships or in ourselves, there could be irreconcilable differences in our philosophies and faith, our beliefs and experiences.

The greatest failure of mankind was salvaged by the perfect salvation plan – Jesus Christ.

But what I find bubbling up amidst the despair of a hundred billion failures, especially in this season, is the message of Christmas itself, the hope of the whole Gospel: The greatest failure of mankind was salvaged by the perfect salvation plan – Jesus Christ.

It was the most severe of all irreconcilable differences – God’s holiness and our sinfulness. Nothing could have saved us from this inherent condition that meant eternal separation from our Creator. After the Fall, all men fell short. There was no restitution, no hope, no way.

Not on our end, anyway.

And this is the hope I cling to in the darkest nights of the soul: I’m a child of the God who reached out over the stalemate of sin and against all impossibilities, conquered death and reconciled us to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18).