I was playing catch-up in the Twitterverse today and came across a tweet by @gretchenrubin (of the The Happiness Project) that set me off in a totally different direction. Her tweet went like this:
I remind myself to “Enjoy the fun of failure”–study shows that “failure is often better teacher than success.” http://bit.ly/cya8k9
If you hit the shortlink you find yourself heading over to a University of Colorado Denver Business study that makes a case for failure being the better teacher than success. I hate to say this but it is nothing new, to me at least. In a previous life, or I should say, back in the day…when I was busy homeschooling my children and doing research on (slipping) standards in education and the self-esteem movement I was baffled by the fact that students were no longer allowed to fail. I remember one article that suggested that the use of red pen was stressful on the student and should be avoided. WHA? HUH? Oh, and correcting grammatical and spelling mistakes eroded a child’s sense of accomplishment if the assignment didn’t directly relate to those subjects. Again-WHA? OK, so it is pretty obvious I am ‘old skool’ (I prefer ‘school’ but in order to be cool I need to spell it this way) . Having established that, I would also like to state, for the record, that I am an advocate of failure. I love this Samuel Beckett quote about failure:
In fact, the commencement speaker for my graduation from college started with the sentence “I hope you fail”. I remember the dead silence that followed that statement! I also remembered that a good portion of the people I encountered following the ceremony hated her speech. They could not get past the idea of failure to recall that she also talked about understanding the sweetness of success better if you understand what failure can do. Learning from failure, or learning from mistakes-can have a lasting effect. This certainly rings true in my experience! If I try something and it works the first time well, then, yay for me. However, if I attempt a task and it doesn’t work out, my determination to figure it out kicks in and I end up learning way more than if it all came together on the first go. Even something as simple as auto correct on my computer-I love this feature because it has become a challenge for me to get through a writing session without facing the nasty little wavy red mark that underlines my misspellings! It has actually improved my spelling-proving that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
I really believe this applies to more than just grammar and spelling though. It goes way deeper than that-to that place where many of us return to but it isn’t something we want to admit. Failure has more to it than red marks on papers or flubbing an assignment. Failure can cut to the core and it can hurt-really hurt. A C+ on a spelling test is nothing compared to the crumbling failures in a relationship, or the sense of despair at the inability to find a job. This is real stuff.
I go back to scripture and think about all the failures that took place there. The crux of reality that plagued the stories-adultery, thievery, murder, disloyalty, disobedience, faithlessness. Failures. What I find interesting is that God used these failures, in many cases, to bring about the change necessary for the story itself to succeed. I will not-in any way-pretend that I am a biblical scholar, theologian, or any particular expert in these matters-not even a little bit. What I am is someone who learns from my mistakes, my failures and I recognize that this is a good thing. God has used my failures to continually show me-remind me-of the necessity of relying on Him.
I have spent a long time carefully sidestepping my faith. Having studied philosophy, contemporary theory and all manner of other -ologies and -ophosies that skirt or defy Biblical reasoning and the fact of God-I became schooled in the ability to talk a lot but never really saying what I should be saying. They should really teach a dance class at the upper levels and call it The Sidestep-and the course description would go something like this: Dance your way around any truth without actually ever saying anything. Impress your friends and colleagues with your working knowledge of how to discourse about anything without actually saying a thing. Snarky-ness aside, what I am trying to say is that I learned from my failure. I have spent a long time avoiding God’s tap on my shoulder. I have also learned it is scary to turn around and face him again. What grace to find that when I did turn around it wasn’t a scolding I was facing but an embrace. And, the opportunity to learn from my experiences…now I just need to determine what to do with them.
Whew-not something I ever thought I would be talking about on my blog! Pretty heady stuff and it’s not even 10 a.m. I am not going to apologize though because I am pretty sure my next post will most likely be on the lighter side. So, hang with me if this wasn’t your cup of tea because I smell cake-the “I’vedied’ngonetoheaven Mocha Chocolate Cake” and I’ll be writing about that too!