One of my favorite people is Howard Thurman. Howard Thurman is dead now. In fact, I’ve never met him. He’s a friend through the text. I encountered him for the first time in a class where we read about half of his published writings. He wrote something about failure in The Inward Journey. “No man likes to fail. But it is important to remember that under certain circumstances, failure is its own success” (p. 64).
Think about success coming from failure.
It doesn’t make much sense at first.
Then it takes more sense onto itself as you think about the actual failures in your life. No one likes to think about failure. It makes us see ourselves soberly, doesn’t it? The fact that we can and do fail stings, even bites.
I’m writing this post and one of the most recent failures I experienced was in snapping at someone who, well, deserved it. But that’s a failure for me–I almost wrote a small failure for me–but it’s a nice-sized failure because I am trying desperately to live into a growing faith in a man who ate his words for the people who deserved worse. So, when I released my opinions of this young man, no matter how careful I tried to be, I failed.
I didn’t fail at communicating. I didn’t fail in relieving myself of irritating feelings. I failed at something like being a different me.
Now, had I wrote this post two days ago, or five days later, perhaps I would write something different. Indeed I can still edit this post. Perhaps I would write that the young man failed. Yes, that he failed me because of what he did or didn’t do. Perhaps it’s worth me justifying my statements some so that you don’t think bad of me. But today the failure is mine. And that’s just a recent one.
If you spent five minutes thinking about your last failure or set of failures, I’m sure you’d find something. But let’s not spend too much time considering those things. Let’s go back to Thurman. What’s possible because of failure? What’s ahead if failure or missteps or mistakes are behind us? Can you think of any good that came from a failure in your life? A moment of grace perhaps or a space where you felt like a better version of yourself? No need to be more specific than you’re comfortable. Were there any successes which followed from your failure?