The short version of this post could be: do it, fail. Obviously, however, I wanted to elucidate my thoughts a bit.
It’s no secret, if you’ve lived in our house long enough, that your dad and I have a few flaws. One of mine, is my propensity toward making projects and schedules and then failing. Perhaps you’ve heard your exasperated father bemoan this? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, and I can’t imagine you don’t, I’ll give you a short list of my most noticeable failings: the cleaning schedule, the homeschool schedule, the exercise schedule, daily prayer time, anything Advent prep, potty-training regiments…I could probably go on if given more time. In short, I often have a lot of big ideas that don’t go far.
Dad knows this about me, and often laughs or sarcastically receives any excited proclamations I lay down. This usually happens at dinner and sounds something like this (I’m sure this will sound familiar!):
Me: So I was thinking, since I’m having trouble getting the kids to (insert current dilemma here), I thought I’d try setting a regular time each day/week/month for us to (insert fix to said dilemma). This way, instead of just kind of addressing it, we’ll constantly reinforce it and it will become a habit.
Dad: Ah yes, a schedule. That works well. I mean, I can think of so many of your schedules that have worked. There’s the…wait, no…well there’s the…no, not that one either, well surely it will work this time!
Me: Shut up.
Dad: No really, make the schedule, I’m sure it will work this time.
Me: I hate you (said with love!).
Sound familiar? Well, it probably does because I do it all the time. Your dad will ask sometimes why I keep setting myself up for failure like this. Why I don’t try a new approach since this one isn’t working. I never have an answer for him other than, this will work eventually. Often I’m essentially forcing the square peg into the round hole. I’m destined for failure.
I could react to this with despair and just give up. Indeed, sometimes I have (I’m sure you can see this when it comes to cleaning the house). I could react to this by changing my ways. I’m sure I’ve tried, though I always fall back on what’s comfortable. Or, I could keep trying. That’s what I’m known for and I think that’s a good thing!
When your oldest sister started watching Yo Gabba Gabba, she would sing a song: “Don’t stop donk-a-butt.” It took about six months before we finally got what she was saying: Don’t stop, don’t give up (obviously we didn’t watch Gabba with her…we turned it on while we did something else–sound parenting, kids!). It’s a nice and inspirational Gabba hit (sorry for the terrible quality, but it’s what I could find). I’ve taken to singing it at times to motivate you, but I’m getting away from my larger point.
Why is it important that you don’t give up? Why keep forcing the square peg in the round hole? Is it so that you can eventually be successful and make all your plans work? Well, I hope you’re successful, but no. Is it because if you keep trying you’re guaranteed to succeed? No. Is it because eventually you’ll learn to do it right? No, that’d be nice, but isn’t always possible or guaranteed. So why? Because if you don’t give up, you’ll continue to fail and failure is good. It is necessary, it is why we’re here.
You see, I work hard to get it right and I sometimes do a fantastic job. So good, in fact, that I start to think a little too much of my plans and provisions. Then WHAM! I fail. Often the failure is pretty tough to take. But what it usually does, is knock me down and make me…PRAY! It helps me see that God is the only path to my success. This doesn’t mean I pray and then my cleaning schedule works. That thing will never work until I learn to get off my butt and actually embrace the idea of cleaning something regularly, even when it doesn’t look too dirty. It means that I need God’s help making plans and provisions. It means it’s not about what I want and I can do, it’s about what I’m called to do for Him, what I’m called to do for others. It’s not about me at all. Failure teaches that. It makes us turn to Him instead of to ourselves.
Everytime I fail, I eventually learn this. Oh sure it’s a process that usually has me mourning a bit over my loss or my lack of success, but in the end, I’m turning back to Him and asking for His help, His guidance, His know-how. Ultimately, that’s what’s so great about failure, it’s what’s so necessary. It’s also why, when you look back at your life, I hope you see there were many times when I allowed you to fail, when your dad allowed you to fail, so that you could do the same.