I was sitting in church this weekend and the topic discussed was failure. I thought it was a great topic because so often so many of us feel like failures in many areas of our life.
The pastor speaking made a lot of great points but the overall message was that God expects us to fail, and that is okay. He loved us before we failed, and he will continue to love us after we fail. This is true! In the Bible, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times. Although Peter didn’t believe it, it was true. Jesus knew that he would fail, and was okay with it, and still loved Peter anyway.
As the pastor went on, he spoke about Michael Jordan. We’ve all heard much about Michael Jordan and his life. He is one of the greatest and most famous failures in life! Along with many others.
As we go through life, we can’t learn unless we try new things. We can’t learn unless we fail from time to time. As much as failing at something, or making mistakes, can hurt, it’s also necessary to learn boundaries and paths of knowledge. Thomas Edison stated that he did not fail, he just learned 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb. Had he quit after the first few tries, where would we be today?
Failure is not final, it is a platform for our future. It gives us the opportunity to learn and see what needs to change to grow. In order to grow, we have to learn. We aren’t perfect; none of us can be. In order to keep growing to get better and better, we must learn from mistakes and make changes. It’s hard to accept, but we have to understand that failure is a part of life.
I’ve had many failures in my life and I’m really not afraid to admit many. For some reason, when it comes to treatment, I thought I couldn’t fail. When I first entered Partial Hospitalization I said I would NOT be a frequent flyer when it comes to treatment. I said this is going to be a “once-and-done” type of thing and that would be all. Things just didn’t happen that way. I didn’t gain all of my weight and had to go back into treatment (IOP) last winter to finish gaining. I felt like a failure not being able to stick to the meal plan and do it on my own, but I also always knew that dinner was my most difficult meal, and it still is.
Failure has been a part of my life in different forms. I didn’t want to accept it, but truthfully I am not perfect at many things:
- Teaching – sometimes lessons just flop!
- Home projects – how many times have we had to start over?
- Sports in high school – can’t win every game!
- Sports in college – can’t win every title.
- Coaching – you can’t teach everyone everything.
- Treatment – sometimes we just need more help, and that’s okay.
- Meal plan following – hey…. we aren’t all perfect! That’s a hard thing to do!
Failure is for learning – we aren’t and we can’t be perfect as much as we hope and try to be. We know in our hearts that we aren’t perfect because we are made this way. When we learn to accept that, we will accept our mistakes and failures. Trying to pretend to be perfect is incredibly exhausting, and not worth my time anymore. I’ve come to find that each time I’ve failed I’ve learned something. Not winning every game playing hockey taught me so much about how to be an effective coach. Now winning every game as a coach, helped me to become a better coach.
Going through recovery, Ed often makes me feel like a failure as an anorexic because I’m eating and I can’t maintain a low body weight. Let’s be honest, the only successful anorexic is a dead one! As tough as it is at times, I’m glad I’m a failure at being anorexic because it does feel so good to be healthy. It also feels so scary at times, but the “good” feeling trumps the fear.
When we fail at something, we learn – we learn what didn’t work and what we can do to be right. We might find the right way to do it, or like some of our famous failures, another wrong way to do it. Either way, we always learn something of value because, in truth, all knowledge is of value. My mistakes as a player have helped current players learn. My mistakes in treatment have helped others feel like they are “more normal” and my mistakes in life have made friends feel connected.
I had a fairly large “failure” lately when I found out my weight and I decided to weigh myself. I have worked so hard for 1.5 years to not know my weight, and a little slip has caused me to begin weighing myself again. Sure, it feels like a failure, and maybe it can be considered that, but I can learn from this. I can learn that I can’t let my guard down at all and that at any moment Ed can creep in fast and win.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we don’t know what the reason is, but I do think there is a reason. Our unanswered prayers are often purposeful. If everything happens for a reason, I think failures happen for a reason too. I think they happen to teach us something more. Each time I have “failed” at recovery and resorted back to restricting I have come to realize that I hate Ed more and more, and that this eating disorder does not do what I thought it would for me. Those “failures” and going back to the eating disorder were necessary for me to see that it is not serving a purpose in my life, and now, when something big happens and I want to restrict, I know that it is not going to work for me.
So, as hard as it is, I am trying to see failure as a learning experience.