Monday Morning Memo: Is It Failure, Or…?

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November 12, 2012 by: Margret

In the context of wanting to encourage, it’s been asked, “What would you do if you couldn’t fail?” Good question, really, because it allows the possible doer of [whatever] that pursuing their goals is a good thing and fear should not hold them back. Still, I don’t think the question is as broad-reaching as we may have been led to believe. Yes, we should definitely encourage ourselves and those around us not to give up before we’ve even started. We should also say, “If at first it doesn’t succeed, by all means try again.”

Same thing, right? Not at all. The person who’s afraid of failure may not take that first step, much less venture down that road towards what they envision. There’s also another group of people: those who don’t try because of the drastic consequences of failure. They cannot afford to fail. Resources are so limited they don’t do anything not guaranteed to succeed because they’ve no way to try again, no way to figure out by experimentation what was amiss and refine the process.

Make sense? If not, perhaps this photo will help. For brunch one recent weekend, I made spinach-cheese swirls, following the directions precisely. What I got was these, neither the photo on the box nor the identical one found on this Web site. Still tasted great, no doubt of that, and we’ll have some variation of the recipe again (maybe with more cheese and less spinach). But, essentially, what I got was not what I was promised.

Often, when I cook it’s an experiment. I have a “vision for it,” if you will. I choose the main ingredients, then open the part of the pantry containing spices and uncork them, smelling each one until the one(s) I’m looking for are identified and selected. When I cook like that, it’s nearly always successful. Only one meal per year doesn’t pass muster.

Other times, I flip through our four shelves of cookbooks until I find several recipes that suit my fancy, then either select the one closest to what I envision or, if they’re similar, blend ingredients from one with those from another. Having cooked regularly since my teens, I’ve learned there are so many variables (humidity, true oven temperature, brand of ingredients, even instructions) that it’s rare to have something turn out precisely as directed. When that happens, I settle for what I have and make changes in subsequent cookings.

Bearing all that in mind, what if the appearance falls far short of expectations and those for whom I’ve cooked are so ill pleased my life is a misery for a long time afterward? Worse yet, what if the taste is so unsatisfactory there’s nothing left but to start over yet there are no funds to do so, and my failure means my family will not eat that day? Phrased differently, what if there’s not enough to eat and there is no margin for error? What then?

In those circumstances, how likely do you think someone would be to try again to get something right? How eager would they be to push past their mistakes? Or would it be ingrained in them that if the first attempt didn’t work none others will, so one had best quit before things became even more costly.

I understand this: it was the reality in many of my formative years. Yes, the giving up was lack of trying but not from desire, but rather to prevent further hardship to the family. Frankly, it’s still a problem, even though I’ve walked with the Lord for more than two decades. I know to the core of my being that Daddy God loves my desire to learn. I also know He’s my provider yet I have a tough time thinking of that provision when I look in the pantry. “Can I be wasteful with these precious ingredients?” then I remember something I read…somewhere…of the extravagant wastefulness of God, who creates each snowflake individually…with a different sunrise and sunset each morning…. Then I wonder if I should classify these recipes as failures in light of Thomas Edison’s comment, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

So. Is it failure? Or success in a way you’d not imagined it?

Just something to consider, dear ones, as we continue to live and learn and grow, basking in all of Heaven’s best for us and our families.


 |  Filed under: Reflection  | 

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