“Failure” is not a pleasant word; not even close to something like, “Illustrious” (which was my favorite word as a 9th grade English student), or “Sublime” (not so much the band, but the adjective), or “Craftsman” (one of my former bandmates called me that referring to my approach to music, and it remains one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received… or could give).
Nope, “Failure” is a word we like to avoid.
It’s the “DNF” in the race (Did Not Finish).
I’m probably more familiar with failure than I’d like to admit.
It’s easy for me to focus on my “wins” and my achievements, especially over the last 12 months or so:
- Graduating Seminary (with a 3.8 GPA, even!)
- Running my first half-marathon
- Raising two pretty decent kids
- Becoming a better husband
- Wrestling with some long-time demons, and achieving some semblance of sanity for the maybe the first time ever
- Mentoring and teaching a variety of people in my community
Those things are all important, and I’m proud and grateful to have completed them, but I also have to admit that I have a pretty significant history of being someone who struggles to “finish.”
I’m great at starting.
But it’s that middle that tears me up.
I committed to blogging Lent. I did. I can’t take that back. I put it out there for all of the internets to see…
And then I failed.
I lasted what, two or three weeks?
I don’t even know. I don’t want to know, to tell you the truth.
And so the tapes begin:
“You see… you never finish anything…
… You quit. You’re a quitter.
… You bail out as soon as things get hard.
… You don’t have enough grit.”
Those are some tapes that play in my head. Lovely, isn’t it? We all seem to have them—little quotes and sayings that invade our headspace whether we want them there or not, and remind us off all the bad things we are and all the good things we are not.
But I also know that’s not the whole story.
It seems to me that there comes a point where you have to make a choice about what it means to be human: are we the sum of our actions and deeds? Are we “sowing a destiny,” so to speak?
Or are we far more complex than that? Am I more than a failure, even when I fail?
I’d like to think that I am, and I’d like to think that God thinks so too.
So yeah, I failed. I started, and didn’t finish. I had the best of intentions, and they didn’t pay off.
But here I am: Holy Wednesday. I will walk towards that Cross on Friday, and I know that Jesus died for this “failure”, mostly because He knows that being human means not getting it right sometimes (most of the time?), and that we all need a little help.