A crack. A break. A defect. Imperfection. Busted. Broken. Early in life, we are positioned to see what is wrong and to prevent failure. When coloring with crayons, we are encouraged to stay inside the lines. When learning to ride a bicycle, we’re instructed to place both hands on the handlebars, so we don’t fall. Don’t run too fast, or you will fall. In elementary school, I remember easily crumbling a half-dozen loose-leaf notebook paper because I’d made a mistake and couldn’t completely erase my error.
The average student frets earning an “F” on a school project, a weekly quiz, a unit test, or worse, failing a class. In my late teens, several times, I failed a required written test for Rickles. Rickles was an 80’s version of Home Depot. After a week or two of training, I could handle the register with ease, however, at the site of the exam, my heart raced like I had completed the 100-yard dash. Although I knew the content, I repeatedly froze and performed poorly on the exam. To get the job, I needed to pass the test.
I legitimately did my best. But my best wasn’t good enough nor was it meant to be. My mother saw my failure as a significant blemish on my young work record and a potential hurdle to future achievements. I was chastised as though my failure was intentional. I was laughed at. Inside I felt like a failure and questioned my intelligence. On the outside, I masked my shame and humiliation with laughter. I didn’t know that I would fail. Naivety convinced me that effort would always prevail.
Looking back on my experience, I am confident that failing Rickel’s exam was the best thing for me. The failure was painful, but it changed the course of my life. My little hiccup temporarily derailed my confidence. I let it go and moved on. I discovered grit and tenacity. I grew stronger.
I wish I knew about The Wisdom of KINTSUKUROI
Kintsukuroi is a Japanese art that meticulously mends broken ceramics with gold. The repairs are made by hand using urushi lacquer, and the seam is highlighted with gold or other metals. The technique is designed to enhance the beauty of the flaws and is said to be made even more beautiful than it was originally.
With the tradition, beauty is derived from the broken and flawed pieces. We’re all scarred just the same. Some scars we display physically. Other blemishes are hidden and packaged neatly like a beautifully wrapped Christmas gift. We are scared from failed relationships, failed businesses, wrecked finances, chronic illness, battle scars from cancer, low GPA’s in high school and college, foreclosed homes, and more. Cyndie Speigal’s book of daily inspiration, wisdom, and courage reminds us:
You will fail.
You will fail.
You will break.
You will stand up and dust yourself off.
You will repair yourself again and again.
And eventually, though you will be different than before, you will again become whole.
You will be even more beautiful precisely because of all of this.
You will be a better person because of your imperfections, not in spite of them.–Cyndie Spiegel
It’s 2019! Surely we will experience successes and failures in the New Year. Make a commitment today to allow yourself a moment to feel failure but to get back up and start over.
I will NOT be shakenPsalms 16:8