Failure, my teacher
Sometimes the greatest successes come through the hardest moments.
“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.” CH Spurgeon
Ever failed at something?
An exam or project? Failed to get home on time? Failed a friend?
We all have. Failure is familiar to us all, with some of us feeling like we experience it more than others. That was definitely the case for me. During Grade 11, I was working on a Maths project with a friend. I have a creative type personality, and I'm somewhat distracted most of the time, so my strength was never in completing set tasks by the due date. And this particular project was no exception. I failed to hand in the project, and consequently I failed my friend. Double whammy!
I owned my failures. I wore them around on my sleeve, my heart dripped with them. I lived on a roller-coarser of performance driven self-approval. When I did something great, I thought I was great. When I failed, I sunk deep and dark.
After years of living this way, I’ve realised that failure doesn’t need to sit heavy on us at all! It’s not something that defines our character or worth. Not one bit.
Is failure always negative?
It’s easy to believe that failure is bad and something to be ashamed of. There’s an assumption that it signifies weakness. We’ve all been laughed at for failing, and we’ve held our breath and thanked God when the person next to us failed and we didn’t.
Why do we run from it? Why is it so shameful?
I get it, I do the same. If 'failure' were a profession, I’d be a billionaire.
But what if our failures and failings, our hardships and challenges didn’t mark us as weak and inferior? What if they made us strong? What if they opened up new opportunities and levels of creativity for us?
I’m not saying that failure is an awesome experience, to earn its name it clearly isn’t. It’s horrible. But pain has a way of unearthing our beauty, pearls buried deep within our hearts and souls that can only be found while digging deep.
Those pearls look like resilience, hope, love, determination, the will to survive, the strength to stand, and the ability to dream. Learning. Growing.
The positive side of failure
Granted, embracing seasons of abundance and hope realised is much more fun and enjoyable than doing so in moments of humiliation and error. But often our greatest ’successes’ are born in our darkest moments. That's why the well-known Bible techer Charles Spurgeon says, “I have learned to kiss the wave (the hardship, circumstance, failure, challenge, heartache etc.) that throws me against the Rock of Ages (the God of endless and eternal love, faith and hope).
JK Rowling said in her speech at Harvard in 2008, “you will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships, until you have been tested by adversity.”
As painful and hard as it may be, embrace the waves - the turmoil, the failure - because they are, after all, not the end of everything, but our greatest and most patient teachers. And when the season is over, I hope you get to the point where you can look back with a thankful heart and kiss it fondly goodbye knowing that it has served you and your future well.
Romans 8:26-28 (MSG): "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
Lizzy Milani is Co-author at PktFuel.com and the DVO app - Beautiful Daily Pictorial Devotions and Inspiration.