The Gift of Failure
The months of April, May and June were particularly horrible for me and initially very bruising to my ego, emotions, physical and mental health. I found myself dissolved in many tears, dreading going to work and spending many sleepless nights tossing and turning. These were all manifestations of the way in which my pride reacted to failing to fully perform my duties in the planning of an annual T&T NGO Professionals Conference, in a timely and efficient manner. Many debriefing sessions after pointed to factors other than my own weaknesses that helped to cause the situation. Many times during that season I questioned whether or not I was the right person for the job, whether I had hung my hat way beyond my reach and most of all whether I should resign. However, each time I silently confessed this last option or shared it with friends and family, I was met with a resounding ‘No!” and the reminder of Who it was that opened up this door when I needed it the most. Beyond all of the stress I felt in the physical, I could not shake the immutable fact that I was placed in this job for a divine multi-faceted purpose and that purpose had not yet been completely fulfilled.
How could I describe this instance of failure as a gift? For there was no way of denying it. I did not do my part as expected and many persons within my organization, the US based planning partners and Funder were adversely affected; in some instances they had to take up my slack and add to their already onerous workloads.
It was a gift because as I increasingly let go of the misguided notion that I could do anything good in my own strength and leaned more and more on the One who put me in the job in the first place, I was able to move away from the typical human reactions that would have paralyzed me to a place of freedom and unshakeable peace. What am I saying? In the beginning of this saga, as I failed to meet the mark, my pride caused me to become defensive, passive aggressive and depressed. Yet as my spirit clung to the truth that the trials that beset us are not meant to destroy us but to cause us to be continually refined for His honour and glory; and as I let everything go and sank into utter childlike dependence on Him to help me make the next step forward, I noticed a glorious transformation happening internally which was eventually witnessed externally by those around me.
I moved from defiance to utter humility. My focus shifted from how my performance made me feel to having compassion on the ones I was affecting. In humility I was able to openly admit my mistakes and willingly work along with the team to get past them. I found myself developing a tenacity to see the project through, notwithstanding the effects on my body, mind and emotions. I worked hard to begin to pull my weight at every opportunity.
Whenever I would go to my husband for his insights and words of wisdom during this period, he would reiterate that what was happening was not about me alone but about what the Lord was doing in the lives of all the others involved. As He shifted my focus from my failure to His purpose I once again regained a joy for contributing to a Conference that positively impacts the well being of the Non Governmental Organisations that participated. Not only did I learn to lean on God, He gave me the willingness to reach out to those to whom He would direct me for spiritual and professional guidance. With decreasing defensiveness, I was able to hear truth and move towards a place of professional integrity and endurance.
At the end of the process, the greatest gift of all was the ability even through the failure and my stand in it to cause people to wonder. My bosses, the Funder, my coach all remarked in amazement at my openness, my tenacity to move beyond the low points. One said “You are a remarkable woman”; another “I am amazed at your openness to be coached.” The joy of hearing remarks like these did not rest in the fact that I was being praised, but that I was given beautiful opportunities to declare publicly that I could not take any credit for myself. That all the honour and glory for making something beautiful out of a potentially disastrous situation, belonged solely to the Lover of my soul and theirs, my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!
So at the end of it, I surmise that failure can be sweet, once embraced for the beauty that can be derived from it, in the life of one determined to lay it all at the feet of the Potter, whose delight it is to craft a vessel whose delight it is to bring glory always to His Name!