Parker Palmer, in his book, Let Your Life Speak, has something to say about failures. He identifies them as heralds of our limitations. In other words, our failures help us to know ourselves. The midlife journey is about knowing ourselves – our gifts, as well as our challenges, the pathways to fruitfulness and the roads which will lead us to frustration. Failure helps to steer us toward the path of fulfillment. Our failures also teach us humility – we can’t possibly be good at everything and we can’t possible do everything. When we accept this truth, we stop forcing ourselves into situations, jobs, tasks which are not a good fit for us or which do not reflect our gifts and allow ourselves to be open to that which is life-giving and reflective of our unique temperaments and gifts.
For me learning that I was not a concert pianist and that I might never fulfill my dream of being the next Stevie Nicks, helped me to concentrate my efforts and education on things I am good at like listening, learning, teaching and writing. Beating my head against the traditional publishing channels has eased me into successful self-publishing. Getting beat up in the corporate and institutional church worlds have taught me that I am not an employee, but an entrepreneur and to accept this as a gift, not a form of banishment or ostracism or a reflection that there is something wrong with me or confirmation of our family joke that “I do not play well with others.”
How have your failures steered you toward your gifts?