What is your first thought if someone were to tell you that the best thing that can happen to you is to fail? Our western culture, especially in the United States, is obsessed with winning, being right, or having the correct answer We have seen something of a movement to counteract this driven obsession to be number one where every kid who competes or participates is pronounced a “winner” and given a trophy, usually gold in color. This seems counter productive to pronounce something you really don’t believe is good; why not call every one losers and cerebrate that if winning is not important? The problem with this is that there really are others who are better than us at something; someone is faster, stronger, smarter, funnier, etc. than we are. Realizing and accepting that is only a problem if our identity, our sense of inner worth, is dependent on how we perform, or how much we possess, or what others think of us.
Most mature and responsible adults understand this, at least on a surface level. We hear this message all the time, in our churches, from our psychologists and therapists, even our sports announcers and broadcasters who talk about losing with dignity and grace, “ sportsmanship” they call it. Spiritual leaders tell us our that we find our self worth in the love of God and psychologists say it is in the love of our significant others. And this is true, but to hear it and to say it is not enough. Love has to be experienced in order to know, deep in our inner being that this is true.
So why might failing be the best thing that can happen to us? Because it allows us, better forces us, to experience suffering. It is painful to lose, to fail, but it also begins to open up the door to understanding that we, our self, our I, our ego, is not enough. I am not enough. You are not enough. When we fail, when we stumble, when we fall, we are vulnerable and if our self protective ego does not slam the door shut, we may realize our need to be comforted, accepted, understood, and loved; that it really does not matter what we do, achieve, or perform, that grace and love are enough.
Do you find this hard to believe? Does your experience tell you otherwise that what you do really does determine your inner worth? I would like to challenge you to turn off that voice in your head that is constantly evaluating, judging, and assessing and maybe you can hear that deeper voice that is always calling “I love you.” This is a trophy greater than its weight in gold.