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Sound lessons to learn from life’s failures
We are nearing the exciting and glamorous graduation season, when five years of hard school work pays out its dividends.
It is also a time of serious reflection as so many students prepare to enter the world of work while others push on to further their education.
So you have valedictorians and you have guest speakers at the various ceremonies.
Valedictorians will recall their happy school days and their cadre of friends that are all set to go their separate ways and the guest speakers will, in their speeches, advise the graduates of the importance of their next step; the jobs or careers they choose; how to behave and so on…delivering speeches that reek of materialism and, of course, upward mobility. But there is hardly a word about God.
And this reminds me of a journal I read years ago when a graduation speaker, the president of a large corporation in the United States, in the middle of his speech, told the students, “If I could have one hope for you as you go out into the world, it would be this: I hope you fail. I hope that you fail at something that is important to you.”
He did not stop there.
Continuing, he told the graduating class about his personal experience.
He said that his early life had been one of failure after another until he learned to see failure as an effective teacher. It may sound very strange, but it is linked to that old adage—if you fail the first time, try and try again.
Many of the songs we sing today have come out of trying and really hard times, in the many cases of desperation which led to the cry as sung in Psalm 42:1-2 which says: “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
A listener of that graduation speech commented: “Sometimes we are not ready to see the wonder of God’s wisdom and strength until we are gasping for breath in the exhaustion of our own strength.”
He concluded: “A recurring story of the Bible is that mountains of faith rise from the valleys of failure.
“Before discovering the high ground we are looking for, we may need to see the failure of the dreams we hold in our heart and trust instead in the love, wisdom and guidance of our God.”
This little story tells us a lot about failure.
“We must understand that failure is an integral part of life as it was yesterday, today, and will be tomorrow.
This simply means that failure is part of life and must be treated as such so that the success we so religiously crave in life will be punctuated with many failures.
The message to all graduates is that life is not a bed of roses but is littered with many failures and as such the young people going out into the world MUST expect failures, but your insatiable trust in God will guide you to your life’s goal.
VERNON KHELAWAN is a columnist for Catholic Media Services Limited (Camsel), the official communications arm of the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain. Its offices are located at 31 Independence Square • 623-7620
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