But failure is not a bad thing.
It's an opportunity to emerge, to grow, to learn, and to evolve into something more durable in this world. These words are easily typed; but, man, they are but a vapor of vanity amid the weightiness of failure.
My favorite thing about the Olympics is watching Walsh-Jennings and Ross play beach volleyball. They're like a well-oiled machine working with clock-like consistency. But they, seeded number two, had to play the number-one seed...for the bronze.
Their failure as a team was untimely. It didn't matter that Ross and Walsh-Jennings had done nothing since 2012 but devote their lives to winning gold in 2016. Failure didn't care how much work and time, sweat and exhaustion, pain and injury they had to endure. What does failure have to do with the future? What does it know of the tragedy that would result in being that "1" in a 26-1, twelve-year run for Walsh-Jennings?
Yet Walsh-Jennings knows that, as long as she's still playing the game, Wednesday's loss was not a bad thing. It was an opportunity to emerge, grow, learn, and evolve as a team into something that could do this:
That's why she and Ross are champions...who will wear a hard-won bronze medal back to America.
Yet Scripture warns us that failure can take us down a different path. The darkness and weight of the reality that we may not be, at the moment, as good as we'd like to be has to become our journeying partner and teacher. I know at times (let's be real: most of the time) in times of failure I engage in intellectual fight-or-flight when the adrenal gland poisons my body with wasted hormone. Fear and anxiety block the sun like a "Famously Hot" Columbia rain cloud that just won't produce, and I usually end up sporting a common cold or headache when the crash comes. It could be worse, though.
Do you remember the story of Cain and Abel? Sunday School probably taught us this story from the angle of jealousy. That's cool. But think of it from the angle of failure. Cain brought his offering to YHWH, and YHWH had no regard for his offering. Can you feel it? It was untimely and tough for Cain: untimely because his brother brings his offering at the same time, for which YHWH does have regard; tough because Cain's "countenance fell." The weight of that failure pulled down his countenance, and in that moment he became straight-up mad. You know the rest of the story, but don't miss YHWH's coaching here:
"Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well (succeed), will you not be accepted (there's a chance, this is an opportunity)? And if you do not do well (allowing this failure to become the final narrative), sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you (darkness is an energy vampire with teeth in our necks), but you must master it (learn the lesson from failure's good teaching, shine light on the wilted things)."