Richard Rohr has a book called Falling Upwards, and I love that title. Why? Because it just flips the whole “failure” thing on its head.
“Failure” is a funny word. It seems to indicate that there is some standard that we are supposed to live up to, which in turn forces us to struggle with the acceptance of what is, right here, right now.
It creates a god that stands there waiting for us to be something we’re not. In other words, the idea that we have “failed” forces us to suppress the truth.
If you look at porn, stay in a bad or immoral situation, if you over-eat, use drugs, abuse alcohol, whatever the problem might be, you didn’t “fail”–instead, think of it like this: you did those things because some part of you wanted to. So if you can accept that some part of you wants–and even feels it needs–these things, then you can ask a much more helpful question: why do I want this? Why do I need this?
So if you want to call that failing, then I think you should celebrate your failures.
This is what the mission of the cross was all about: “It is finished” – the system of this God standing over you has ended and you can now stand in your truth and ask the important questions, which ultimately leads the core human question: what do you want?
So, with that in mind, here are three reasons why you can celebrate your failures:
1) When we fail, it shows us that what we’re doing to get free, or what we believe about freedom, isn’t true. That’s the awesome thing: you are free to judge the truth of your spiritual beliefs and practices based on whether they work or not. If they aren’t bringing about transformation in your life, then it’s time to let them die….or at least be willing to look at them in a new light. Because you shouldn’t have to adopt some system of control and slap a “God” label on it. If it’s real, it doesn’t have to be believed in; it can be experienced.
2) Where you are weak, God’s grace rises like a flood plain, covering you in a truth about the nature of God. Your failures exist only in your conscious and unconscious. The nature of God is that “nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.” Nothing. That’s the nature of God. And how would you ever discover this if you didn’t have to occasionally look up from your pig-pen? I’m serious – we can actually find joy when we discover that any illusion that God ever disapproved of us or “hated” us was just that: an illusion/lie whispered in our ear by our ego and the nasty energies that feed it.
3) Failure allows us to see that the world is a community of broken people. And we can perhaps finally live at one with that community. Dietrich Bonheoffer wrote from his Nazi prison cell that “perhaps a Christian instinct is to live in the world as if God does not exist, at one with the suffering of the world.” What he was getting at was that Jesus declared that the system of the gods ruling over our consciousness was “finished.”
We didn’t need to keep trying to please God. God wasn’t pleased or displeased. God is love. GOD IS LOVE. Think about what that means for your failures. Now you can look around you and find that there are a zillion people suffering like you….and there is something beautiful in the midst of that suffering. Can we embody that beauty as we seek transformation?
Now you can get some space to ask the real question: what do you want? That, my friend, is a path to walk, one step at a time. Blessings on that road where God is the beautiful ether surrounding us as we walk as opposed to some ghost haunting us. See you on the road, where we can all celebrate our failures