Failure: the dreaded outcome of a challenging endeavor. An undesirable finish to a grueling race. The absence of merit. To put it in fancy Merriam-Webster terminology, “the nonperformance of something due, required, or expected; a subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency; a condition of being bankrupt by reason of insolvency.”
To put it bluntly, failure isn’t an acceptable outcome in our society. In a nation of winners, we don’t do ‘failure’.
Yet not one of us will leave this earth without encountering failure. Some more frequently than others. If it’s part of the human condition, why are we all so loathe to accept it?
This is the theme I’ve set out to examine in the novel I’m currently writing, Love’s Sweet Melody. It’s about a baker who can’t really bake all that well, but she’s determined to succeed, because the death of her bakery means the death of her late parents’ legacy. Failure isn’t an option. Enter a handsome, All-American hero who thinks he can only be a barista, yet secretly is a fantastic baker. To make matters even more interesting, he desperately wants to change the world by writing a chart-topping country song. Somehow he keeps coming up short, in life and in love. Failure is the outcome he fears most.
The sweet, light-hearted nature of an inspirational romance juxtaposed with grittier concepts such as fear of failure and imminent death of our greatest dreams both excites and terrifies me. One minute, I’m cheering mentally because this is going to be sooo fun to write. The next minute, I’m procrastinating like crazy and wasting away my best hours of productivity scrolling through Instagram.
Apparently I’m afraid of failure, too. Much like my heroine, who can’t make a macaron to save her life, I’m worried what exploring this theme will reveal about my own shortcomings.
But maybe, just maybe, this is the joy of the journey. Much like the story of Joseph, who had intimate encounters with failure and rejection on many fronts, perhaps the Lord uses even these perceived slights and ‘insufficiencies’ as part of His sovereign plan.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. — Genesis 50:20 NIV
I’m watching The Masters golf tournament on television this weekend. The stakes are high. Winner takes home not only the much coveted green jacket and a place in the halls of sports history, but a huge financial payout, as well. Sergio Garcia, playing in his 19th Masters and 70th consecutive major event, is still chasing that elusive victory. As I thought about what to write in this post, his perspective in an interview resonated with me. “…I think I’m working on trying to accept things which can happen here and can happen anywhere. It’s part of golf. It’s not easy. It’s much easier to say than to do. But that’s the challenge we always have, you know, making sure that you accept the bad moments or the bad breaks with the good ones, and kind of move on.”
Wise words from someone who has lived the heartache of falling short numerous times. A seasoned veteran in this game of life has enough experience to know that good can come from bad. There are blessings in the midst of hard failures. I hope this is the journey I can plot for my new fictional friends, the baker and the barista/songwriter, and in the process, make it a life-giving truth I absorb for my real life, as well.
May your endeavors, whatever their outcome, be sweet, my friends.
Your turn: if you’re feeling brave, tell me about a time failure brought a sweet outcome you never anticipated but are now grateful for.