Failure precedes all success. So many times we get caught up in the big “aha” moments and having this complete finality to all things, that if it is not impressive enough, or not worthy of social media, then we do not think of it as success. We get caught up in the failure and we give up all too easily.
I would argue successes and failures happen everyday. Sometimes nobody else but you and the dog may see them, but they happen. The word “success” has different definitions, in fact: “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”, “the attainment of popularity or profit”, “the correct or desired result of an attempt”. We, especially as a culture in America, get so caught up in the next get rich quick schemes or are swayed by the rags to riches stories, that we narrow our view point, by actually focusing on only the big picture.
You see, a picture is made up of thousands of details in a thousand different ways, such as light from a photo or from different means of art (eg, Pointillism, Impressionism). These images are all made from a thousand different brushes, points, lights, or takes. What you see in the end is the result of many approaches, many attempts, and many failures.
My three year old son came up to me the other day, and said, “Mommy, I went potty!” Now before those of you who are not parents click away, hear me out. I said in response to him, “Great job buddy!” Then I thought to myself, why am I praising that!? He has actually been potty trained for some time, so this was not a new accomplishment. He just thought it was noteworthy at the time to inform me that he actually did what I told him to do.
How is it that I can praise my three year old for something so mundane, but that I am so hard on myself? I can praise my friend for losing five pounds, but am distressed that I have not lost all the weight I want. I can praise my daughter for reading the word “because”, but I can’t praise myself for my bachelor’s degree?
On the day I wrote this original draft I accomplished the following things: I took my daughter to school, went to the grocery store, got my son to actually sleep during nap time, managed to do a little laundry, work on this blog post, fed my kids ( I will not tell you what it was), put up a Facebook page, and put my kids to bed. That is a lot, and normally I would just chock it up to a day’s work. But that’s just the thing, whatever season you are at in your life, sometimes just getting through the tasks of a day should be considered success. Some days you will be lucky to complete one thing off of your task list. That is okay! All these mundane tasks lead to greater things.
I don’t praise the above because they are great accomplishments in the long scheme. I praise them because they are just one of many little successes that lead to a bigger picture of success. We do not freeze these moments in time, because we often brush them off as insignificant. But I may argue, that these are just as significant, if not more.
When you actually look at the past of someone you think of as successful, you will often find that they failed so so so many times. Success is often defined by our failures.
I was failing my organic chemistry class in college, and I mean failing, but it was that failure that allowed me to pull that grade up to a B. It was not easy, at all. I studied constantly, asked my teacher multiple questions a day, I stayed over and worked extra after class, and I took whatever bonus points I could muster. I was so ecstatic about that B. Which is saying something, because I was valedictorian of my high school class. I’m not saying this to boast, but to point out that B’s were not historically great for me.
Have you ever read the story of Hosea and Gomer in the Bible? (In the book of Hosea) Hosea basically entered a failing relationship multiple times but he kept trying and ultimately had success. (For a great non-fiction re-telling on this story, check out Francine River’s Redeeming Love**, one of my all-time favorite books.)
David, a king for heaven’s sake, failed countless times. He had an affair and then had the husband killed and then made it look like an accident! Talk about making some bad choices! (2nd Samuel 11) But no one looks back on David’s life as a failure. In fact, he is considered one of the most important characters in the Bible.
Michael Jordan was once cut from his high-school basket ball team. *
Stephen King’s first novel was rejected 30 times. *
Albert Einstein once was thought to be mentally handicapped. *
My point is that we cannot let our failures define us. It’s all those little failures, or maybe the more postive word would be attempts, that led you to where you are at today or where you are going to be.
Do you think that God does not know your future!? That our God, who made the winds and the waves obey him, who walked on water, who caused water to turn to wine, cannot take your failures and work them for the good.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28
Each little success and each failure has it’s place in your life.
What do you consider to be some of your failures and how did you overcome them? Share in the comments below!
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