Friday, April 1, 2011

the cake is a failure, but surprisingly sweet

Fail.  Fail Again.  Fail Better. -Samuel Beckett

After considerable hoop-jumping application efforts and fire-breathing, I've been asked not to join the circus.  This means that, Lord willing, I will be returning to Cincinnati in exactly one month from today.  I will return without much to show for myself.  As I've mentioned before, the devil speaks in halfsies, and today it sounds a lot like this: you are a failure.  When I hear this, I cry to the Lord to defend me.  I expect Him to combat the lie with its opposite, you are not a failure.  But He hasn't.  If He did, it would allow me to keep the label to apply again to myself later on or worse, to others around me after I do "succeed."  Nor is it a simple matter of re-defining failure or saying naively that there is no such thing.  

failure: a person or thing that proves unsuccessful: He is a failure in his career. The cake is a failure.

success: the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.

I think I could do some fancy deconstructive or re-framing footwork.  For example, I succeeded at loving some children, my neighbors, making a few friends, finding a path that I 
didn't want to go down.  And that's true.  But the truth is that there was not a favorable termination to my endeavors on multiple levels.  I failed.  And I've found a sweet sliver of peace in not fighting that but realizing that when it comes to who I am or who God is or the spinning of the cosmos, it really and truly doesn't matter.  And somehow the word is virtually obliterated by taking away its sting.  It exists but only as a shadow of itself.  

There are so many commandments we try to smuggle into the cannon.  Thou shalt succeed at all thy endeavors.  Thou shalt not live in thy parent's abode past the age of 18.  Thou shalt make the name of thy Lord great by being awesome.  Or interesting.  Or by using all your potential to the last dripdrop.  There are more important commands God has given us to obey, to live into and out.  Sometimes these extra credit commandments actually hinder us from true obedience and abiding and receiving the quiet gifts of humiliation.  

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