Failing Forward

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”
Theadore Roosevelt
“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

I love this quote.  I love it because it's true.  I love it because it's bold.  I love it because it makes me feel better about the many failures in my life.

In thirty-five years of living, I've managed to make quite a few mistakes.  Small ones.  Big ones.  Massive ones.  I've made all kinds.

And while the addage is true that I am not the sum of my mistakes, it is also true that I am the sum of what I have learned from them.

For, over the course of this journey of my life, there has been someone who loves me walking beside me, holding my hand, whispering in my ear.  He is not repulsed by my failures.  I think He may actually have chuckled at a few of them.  He is not put off by my humanity, my weakness, or my shortcomings.  Rather, He is proud that I have lived life in such a manner as to take enough risks to have even made mistakes.  And He will deal with the rest, slowly honing the rugged into the beautiful, gently wooing the stubborn spots into His hands so He can shape them with His goodness.

The only way I can truly fail is to leave the path where He is and strike out on my own.  And I've learned enough through the course of my life to know I will never reach my destination without Him.  On my own, I can't even choose the right check-out lane at Wal-Mart.  How would I live apart from Him?

At the end of my years on this earth, if I have stayed beside Him, with my hand in His, then all my failures will have been turned to work for my good.  They can't help but do it because He makes all things new and all things beautiful.