“You have the right to remain silent.”
Hearing those words directed toward you tends to bring an unexpected gravity to life. I knew I just might be in serious trouble and the day, as bad as it had already been, looked like I hadn’t come to the worst of it.
During my three years in the army, I served as a corrections specialist (the more familiar term is prison guard, but a specialist anything sounds better than not being special). On the day in question, I accompanied an inmate to the base hospital, left him with an x-ray technician then promptly immersed myself in a Reader’s Digest. Bad move.
The inmate skipped out the back door and I never saw him again until someone else caught him. I remember calling back to HQ (doesn’t that sound so cool?). “Dobbs, I lost Cantcatchame.”
Dobbs came back with this brilliant bit of advice. “Well, Tarver, you better find him.”
My response was just as brilliant. “If I could find him, I wouldn’t be calling you.”
A lot of years later, I worked in the lawn and garden department at Walmart. On occasion, customers exited through the back gate.
One such pair of customers carried a large cooler past me and out the gate. The strained look on each woman’s face, their bent-at-the waist waddle, and the two-handed, white-knuckled grip suggested the cooler was heavier than it appeared.
Mr. Sherlock Holmes that I am, and being the ready-to-serve-you type, I asked, “Do you need any help with that cooler?”
The one woman waved me off. “Naw, naw, we (heavy sigh) got (more sighing) it.”
“You sure? I’d be glad to help.”
The other woman said, “(Huff, huff) That’s (huff) okay.”
Their duck waddle pace seemed to quicken.
Someone figured out that the two ladies were up to no good but that somebody wasn’t me. I felt embarrassed and dumb as a brick.
Both experiences exemplify something I’m not—a German shepherd. I’m more golden retriever. I may bark a lot but I really don’t mean it. Just come on in and take what you want. I’ll even lick your hand as you abscond with the family’s high-def television.
If I fail at a task, does that mean I’m a failure in life?
The answer seems obvious to me and my guess is that it’s obvious to you too.
Failure can teach us a couple of things.
1) We need to work harder on a weakness or for a desired outcome. In a lot of life lessons, we experience an initial failure. Shoot, none of us started walking across a room with our first effort. And we sure didn’t go straight from walking to winning a blue ribbon in the 100-yard dash.
2) We aren’t suited for a particular endeavor. Thomas Edison tried a bazillion, three hundred and something different items before he settled on milk to pour over his shredded wheat. Well, you know what I’m alluding to. Most everything Edison tried for the light bulb thingy-ma-bob didn’t work. Each failed item just wasn’t suited for the job. And each failure got him closer to the right stuff for the job.
That last statement leads me to the point. Despite the embarrassment, I learned an important lesson about who I am and who I’m not. I’m not a skeptic, not overly cautious, and, unless betrayed in an overt way, probably will trust most people. Good qualities for some tasks but, if you want someone to guard the bank vault, I’m not your man. Which is okay because I’ve learned I’m better in other areas.
Each of us has special gifts and talents. Each of us is an individual work of art created by the ONE. And I believe the ONE wants some day to gather His treasures together in one place—HOME!
Learn the lessons offered by life’s failures.
Learn who you are.
Learn who you aren’t.
Then live as the ONE intended for you to live.
And when all has been said and done, be ready to go HOME.
Question: What have you learned from failure?