The older I get (I just turned 48 years old at the beginning of November…yikes!), the more I truly understand that failure is a gift from God. I am also realizing that the longer I live and journey, the more I need my ‘spirituality’ to reflect and teach that truth. My historical experience has been that Religion tends to speak more to the “shame” of failure and not to its Giftedness.
The foundation of my spirituality is that I was created BY God FOR God – that everything about me and my life is about being in relationship with God. And with God not only are all things possible, all things are redeemable. It is a powerful thing to learn from failure. It is a transformative thing to learn and experience that failure is a gift and a necessary tool for our journey with (and towards) God. Failure is the twin sister of ‘success’ much the way doubt and faith are inseparably linked.
One of the foundational ‘tenets’ of Alcoholics Anonymous states that the journey of sobriety is about “progress not perfection…[for] we are not saints.” Imperfection and failure are two of the tools God uses to draw me in closer; for by embracing imperfection and failure, I am reminded of the glorious truth that I am indeed human and I remember that all of us were created in the image and likeness of God. In my being human, nothing is drawn away from God and his relentless love, in fact, I find that if I embrace that truth, I am more so fully alive.
My failures prove only that I am not a saint, they do not take away from any goodness that God has placed within me. I am fond of saying if there is anything in me you find good, then you can give thanks to God and my mother, but if you find anything in me that is not good, well for that I apologize.
As I look over my life I see a wreckage of pain, failure and broken hearts and trust strewn across the path. I feel regret, and rue some of the poorer choices I have made. But God is eternally good, forgiving and loving so that in his hands my past wreckage becomes malleable clay to be remolded into a shining example of divine love blended with my utter humanity.
And like or not, that is indeed good news.
I am but a jar of clay, cracked but valuable when surrendered fully into God’s hands. My failures become familiar scars, gentle reminders of the power of forgiveness and choice all held by the urgent compassion of God.
Here is the point of this and what makes it a Gift is that God does not judge my failures; only I and other people do that. God’s love is a merciful cauldron burning away the dross of my failures turning them instead into divine gifts meant for service, compassion, healing and justice.
God’s grace is greater than any failure I have ever experienced.
God’s love is greater than any human perspective, judgment, religion, or persuasion.
In truth, God embraces my failures as a vital part of me and my journey back Home, to myself, to God and to others. And if God embraces my failures, I certainly can do no less. So today, I embrace all my failures – all of me, surrendering them over to the hands of God, asking not for them to be removed but rather to be transformed into loving gifts of service, gifts from a merciful God.