Recovering from Failure

Olympic RingsThe opening ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia were nothing short of spectacular. Ceremony organizers estimated that 3 billion people world-wide watched the pageantry. Hosting the Olympics is a matter of national pride, and each year the opening ceremony seems more and more spectacular. The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee promised “the most technologically innovative ceremony ever.” But as the world watched the nearly three-hour extravaganza one of five giant snowflakes failed to transform into a circle, leaving the Olympic rings one short of their usual set.

Russian President Vladimir Putin frowned. Russian business leaders criticized. Russian citizens were just plain embarrassed. Global cynics snickered. How do you recover from such an epic failure?

It would have been so tempting to simply pretend that the event never happened, to simply move on. But that’s not what happened. Instead, during the Closing Ceremony organizers poked fun at themselves. A group of silver sequined dancers formed the iconic Olympic rings, but one cluster of dancers stayed “closed”, just like that one poor snowflake. Eventually the circle did open to thunderous applause. It was a brilliant move, transforming and redeeming the earlier failure.

We all experience failure, some of it epic. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from Sochi about how to handle it more effectively.

1. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Failure isn’t fatal.

2. When you blow it, acknowledge it. Guilt and shame grow in the dark, so bring your failure into the light.

3. Try again. Don’t let failure paralyze you. Grit is often the best predictor of success. Watch this six minute TedTalk to learn more about the power of grit.

4. When others fail let’s avoid frowning, criticizing, shaming and snickering. Empathy (because we’ve all been there) and encouragement can set others free to live light-hearted.

Proverbs 24:16-17 are words worth living by, “The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked. Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble. For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them.”

How have you seen failure redeemed and transformed? Leave a comment so that others might be inspired.

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  • Ken Walter

    How have you seen failure
    redeemed and transformed? Leave a comment so that others might be inspired.

    My soul counted me a failure as a father when my 20 year old son ended his life with an overdose of drugs about 32 years ago. I was looking at world and religious views from my soul of
    an angry accusing God. The too late helplessness of being with him as he went into a death coma, revived too late, and with three weeks of hope and medical opinions deciding to stop life support. The house shaking thunder and cackle in the phone upon receiving the message from the Hospital suggested that was a direct angry message from God.

    There was much more to this death than this brief paragraph. I grieved with guilt and shame. I felt craziness, which was reframed into normal grief. I gave up hope for my own life to have any meaning. Even years of counseling, classes, 12 step and suicide survivor groups did little more than day to day survival.

    However, God did not give up on me. First there were scattered dreams. Our Son sat up on his litter like the son of the widow of Naine. He appeared in a place of many rooms seen talking on a phone, as I looked past a door slightly ajar.

    About 8 years later when starting to attend Prince of Peace upon hearing a sermon related to God speaking in thunder, the house shaking thunder fear was turned into a loving God saying over that phone, “I have him now, he is forever safe”. We attended a family week at the Hazelden treatment center and starting talking
    this out with much sobbing and tears that were well cared about by staff and others attending.

    A couple years after his death we were on a counseled rock climbing outing, on the third day as I neared the top of a climb and thunder was rumbling in the distance I came to a smooth walled wide crevice, I could not find a next hand hold, hollered guttural sounds for all the Black Hills to hear and blacked out. In a next moment I found myself kneeling and sobbing on the top of that climb. God provided what I could not. Good fear seemed to wake up in me after this experience.

    I woke up one night from a dream, sat on the edge of the bed and gagged on a throat full of serpents rising up out of me, perhaps representing the lies that were in me being chased out by the Holy Spirit in me. Another time in fear I leaped out of the bed and landed on
    my tailbone and was sore for many weeks. I suppose that was some kind of reminder of what fear can do. This was followed three times by the devil appearing in my awakening from sleep and by a word of Holy Spirit power skedaddled.

    I had a dream of walking with my granddaughters with a bicycle, pumping up a tire (pneuma-Holy Spirit) when a black limo pulls up, gangster looking men got out and ran toward the large building across the street, I ran after the one going to the left, he ducked under a platform at the end of the building, I jumped up on the platform hollering and jumping for him to come out, and out of the back side a greasy waddling large rat like animal slinked away. The Holy Spirit revealed his power through me over that enemy in this dream.

    I decided to attend some seminary classes, but a couple months into it I was ready to give up, a mentor encouraged me to continue and with Holy Spirit guidance greatly lowered my expectations. Come January when I planned to drop out I instead went to the class silent retreat. I read Acts and sang songs in this remote somewhat primitive cabin. The second night I was awakened and seen a video screen at the foot of my bed, there is not electricity in this cabin, it showed a curtain or drapery closed, then a pencil thin stream of light came from it up over my shoulder and as I followed it over my head, it reflected off the head of a crucifix on the wall above the head of the bed. That seemed to say Christ is not behind the curtain but rather he came, lived and died on the cross for my sins. I was by that encouraged to complete the year of classes.

    There are more of these Holy Spirit presence signs and wonders, but this is more than enough to indicate my redemption and transformation. I hope it will encourage others to share and see they are not alone. I would be interested in a group that would take time together to study scripture, discuss, and share experience of Holy Spirit presence in living experience.

    I no longer need to try and reinterpret scripture to what my soul can
    believe but rather let the Holy Spirit reform my soul and easily believe
    scripture that used to need some reasoning or intellectual modification. Praise God. Amen