You Are Not a Failure
You are not a failure; you failed. There is a difference. As long as you don’t let it define you, or your life, there is hope.
Page 58, The Promise, by Darlene Gudrie Butts
Personal failure is an unpleasant companion. It taunts you until you believe you have not only failed, you are a failure and the future is hopeless.
There have been times in my life when I have had such a close relationship with failure that I believed it was a reflection of me. Then I learned the lesson, you are not a failure; you failed.
In 2010, my friends were planning a trip to Africa and I had originally planned to go. I had also committed to raising funds for the group by donating half of the proceeds from the sale of my book, Lessons from the Depression, for the whole year. I envisioned a check of $10,000 thinking that the previous nine months I had sold thousands of books. I was on a roll. $10,000 would be easy.
Then, my sister Deb was diagnosed with cancer in March and everything changed. There was no spare energy, focus, or time to plan such a major trip because once her illness took her strength and independence, my brother-in-law needed help. I was the one with a flexible schedule and children old enough to fend for themselves. I was the one who could help. So, I did. The two commitments collided and selling books lost. My focus was on Deb’s miracle. In September, she passed away and I was left to pick up the pieces of me.
In January 2011, I got an e-mail inviting me to present the check from the books to the group. No one knew the full extent of the challenges I had face in 2010. They believed in me. They trusted I would deliver. They didn’t know.
I couldn’t breathe as I added up the lonely sales figures scribbled in my calendar that were days, sometimes even months, apart. I had only raised $960.
It took a few days to have the courage to respond to the e-mail and reveal my failure. Nancy, I am so sorry were some of the most difficult words I had ever written.
The reply came back within minutes. I hesitated, steeled myself, then opened the e-mail.
Darlene, you are not going to believe this…
As I was sending my e-mail apologizing for my failure, someone was sending an e-mail that turned it into a miracle. God’s magic. God’s grace. God’s miracle.
The organization that was sponsoring the trip to Ghana was looking for money to buy bibles for the graduating female students who had overcome slavery, poverty, and hopelessness to fight their way back to a life that now included an education,a life skill that would support them, and a resounding faith in God. They needed $960 for these bibles and were wondering if Nancy’s group wanted to purchase them since they would be attending the graduation ceremony as part of their trip.
My failure was the exact amount needed to buy bibles. Exact. To the penny.
But, it gets better.
My sister always wanted to go on a mission trip to Africa. She didn’t get to. My sister’s passion was ministering her faith to women. Her voice was now silent. An idea surfaced. What if we put a tribute in each bible to Deb so that she would have her trip to Africa and her spirit would continue to minister to these women who needed it the most?
The check was sent. The bibles were bought. The inscription read:
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (Psalm 119:105)
May God’s Word bring comfort and strength to your heart.
This bible is presented in memory of Deborah Gudrie Pugh
who found peace and love in the presence of God in both life
and in death.
At the graduation, one of the group took a photo of the women, head bent over their own bible, a prized possession in the world of few.
I thought I was a failure. I had only failed. There is a difference. I had failed only by my calculation as God took that and made it into one of my most prized achievements. I took my sister on a trip to Africa and touched the lives of women I will never meet, yet have felt the ripples of their lives spill over the ocean into my own
Some people have ribbons and trophies to signify their triumphs, their victories. I have a copy of a check for $960 to remind me that sometimes our highest achievements come disguised as failures.
Only God can do that.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.
If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world, our faith.
1 John 5:4