"Failure is not failure unless we make it so." - Joan Chittister, Following the Way
After a particularly devastating disappointment, when I was both grieving and at a loss as to what to do next, I came across a quote from the author Ann Lamott that I taped above my desk.
Remember God is in charge.
Do your inner work.
Be of service.
I couldn’t pretend that I wasn’t hurt. I didn’t feel that what had happened was for the good. I simply had to put my trust in God’s ability to bring life out of what felt like death.
In time, I realized that Lamott’s Plan B had become my new Plan A, an approach to life with multiple possibilities for personal fulfillment. There was more than one right answer, more than one path than the one I had set my heart on, which was not to be.
Looking back on that tender time, I remember it now as one of invaluable learning and important growth. It doesn’t feel like failure anymore. In fact, in the mysterious workings of grace, I can now be grateful for all that I gained through disappointment and pain. “Following the call within,” Joan Chittister writes, “demands deep faith that there is nothing that can happen to us in the process that will do anything other than teach us more or bring us closer to our true selves.”
Our younger son, who is an aspiring actor, has become remarkably adept in his young life at bouncing back from rejection and disappointment. That is is a great relief to me, as I watch him make his way in such a high-risk profession. Over the summer, a friend of ours asked him if he had a Plan B. He said, “I don’t want to think of what I’d do instead of acting as a Plan B, because that would make it seem like something I settle for, rather than the door that opened and where life was leading me.”
“Clearly, failure may, in the long run, be the only real key to success,” Chittister assures us all, “the real test of what it takes to follow our real call.”
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