Monday, March 27, 2017

Mr. Trump--Failure Goes with the Territory

photo by Mike / flickr

We're hearing a lot about failure these days. The failure of the Health Case bill to pass. The failure of Hillary to win the election. The longest war in our history is a failure.

President Trump loves the word winners. He despises the losers. And yet if I could talk to him today I would say: Mr. President join the club. We all fail.  And it isn't the fact that we fail--it's what happens after the failure. We'll be watching closely to see how Mr. Trump acts since this huge defeat.

We've already heard him begin to point fingers. It was the Democrat's fault. It was Comey's fault for bringing up these stupid Russian charges at the same time. It was Paul Ryan's fault. And if his daughter and husband had not been skiing in Aspen the results might have been different. Of course--the bottom line is that it was Obama's fault for getting us into this mess in the first place.

I've had my share of failures and defeats. And so have you. And it is so painful when you fall down and have a hard time getting up. But defeat and failure goes with the territory. And like Mr. Trump I have looked around and pointed fingers when I have bumped into failure. But when I settled down I began to see that it isn't always them that caused the trouble. Nothing happens in a vacuum. But one day after great pain I sat down and began to wonder: Just what went wrong? Slowly, ever so slowly I turn the finger from them to me. Oh, that hurt. I'm not into self-flagellation--but we have to take responsibility for our own actions. Maybe, just maybe, I could have done some things differently.

I've never had too many failure in my professional life--I'll not get into my personal life. But when the house shook and fell down around me--as I looked inside I began to hate myself. And what I learned from that time in the darkness is that self-hated is a terrible burden to bear. It took a long time but finally I began to forgive myself.

I love the Arthur Miller quote that came out of his broken relationship with Marilyn Monroe. In one of his plays he'd says, "There comes a time when you have to take yourself in your own arms." I think he was right. We don't get very far down the road by beating up on ourselves. And what I discovered was that we take that self-hatred out and point fingers at everybody around us. Except of course us. It makes us into miserable human being to be around. 

photo by Ray Krebs / flickr
The wisest people have learned from their failures. And that is not easy to do. But Leslie Weatherhead was a famous English preacher. He was Pastor when the bombs fell in England and destroyed so many and so much. And he said the most amazing thing. "Of course I love the sunny things when everything goes right--but I have learned more from the treasures of the darkness than I have ever leaned from success. " Dr, Weatherhead got those words from Isaiah 45.3: "I will give you then treasures of the darkness and riches hidden in secret places..." Those words come out of the Exile when Isaiah and his people were far from home and had lost everything.

This is no Norman-Vincent-Peale -whistle-while-you-work advice. Weatherhead went on to say that he had learned more from the treasures of the darkness that he ever learned from the light. Also my advice to our President and to us all is that we have to know that when we fail we might just learn something that would help us all the way down the road.

I remember that I have slowly learned that there's not but one Jesus. And we cannot beat up on ourselves for our stumbles and our foibles. I have learned the hard way that to be a human being is often to suffer and fail. So we have to give up the perfection malady.

I have tried and this has been hard to forgive myself when I have failed. This takes a long time--yet failure is not the end of the road. It's part of the journey. You get up and move on.

Of course we are skittish after failure. After a bad experience in a church when I moved on to another church I remember every time some little something would come up I would think: "Uh oh, I'm gonna fail again." Took me a long time to learned that lesson.

I have learned to look at others with grace and kindness and not so much judgment. We Baptists know a lot about judging and self-righteousness. To learn from failure is to join the human race with our fellow-strugglers. I hope this has made me easier to live with. Hope, I said.

I have learned, looking back that there is a whole of living to be done after failure. There is life aplenty after failure.

One of my friends that I don't see very often wrote these fine words. Maybe they will mean something to you as they have to me. His name is Al Staggs.

"It's good to fail sometimes
so that we do not grow proud of our illusions of 
It's good to fail in the dark
if it makes us look fervently for the light. 
It's good to struggle for reasons
if it prevents us from complacency of mind.
It's good to experience pain
to know that we can still feel.
It's good to cry
to be able to flush out the would's weariness.
Some of what is bad, evil, distasteful,
can be for good
If it causes us to keep searching 
and refining our faith."

When I went through one of my hard times I took up calligraphy. And I discovered this quote and I have given it out many times. No truer words were ever written.

--Roger Lovette /

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