Archives for posts with tag: failure

Garth Brooks is the  best selling solo albums artist in the United States, ahead of Elvis Presley, and is second only to the Beatles in total album sales overall. He is also one of the world’s best selling artists of all time, having sold more than 170 million records.

In one of Brooks’ songs, The Dance, he reflects on a failed romantic relationship. One moment “all the world was right” and then it was over. Dancing underneath the stars he remembers feeling that “Holding you I held everything.” He felt like a king but then the king would fall.

In spite of this negative experience he does not bemoan the fact of failure. Instead he suggests that although it was painful, he was glad he “didn’t know the way it all would end, the way it all would go” because if he had missed the pain he would have also missed the dance.

I have heard it said that there is no gain without some pain. Most often this comment is related to physical fitness. The premise is that the harder you work your muscles the greater the reward will be. The principle also points to a spiritual lesson. In the 2nd Century Rabbi Ben Hei Hei said “According to the pain is the gain.” The suggestion is that spiritual growth (gain) is accomplished by enduring the “pain” of doing God’s will rather than following one’s own desires.

The message is simple but not easily achieved. In Psychology Today, Romeo Vitelli says that there are three primary factors to what he calls psychological resilience- the ability to survive and grow from difficult circumstances. The first of these is self-regulation (control), or the ability to control impulses, manage difficult emotions, and being able to carry on despite setbacks.

Vitelli goes on to say that it is very helpful in dealing with traumatic life events or emotional distress if a person also has supportive relationships of family and friends.

The third component to overcoming traumatic experiences, Vitelli calls “meaning-making.” By this he is referring to the ability to understand and to explain what someone is experiencing.

I agree with Dr. Vitelli that all three of these components are essential for healthy response and survival of difficult and traumatic experiences. But I would add that he has missed an important element, especially in what he calls “mean-making”- faith in God.

While humans are incredible creatures endowed with remarkable abilities, we are all fallible beings. It has been said that into every life some rain must fall but how we respond to circumstances determines whether we gain or lose from that experience. Heredity, environment and many other factors impact every person. Our ability to cope is impacted by a multitude of things but there is one promise that is equally accessible.

Jesus said, “trust in me and you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world” (John 16:33, The Message).

Jamie Jenkins

Dinah Washington won a Grammy Award in 1959 for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance with a song entitled What a Difference a Day Makes.  It was originally written in Spanish by Maria Grever. The English lyrics were written by Stanley Adams in 1934. The most successful early recording, in 1934, was by the Dorsey Brothers, although it was first recorded in English by Cleveland crooner Jimmie Ague.(http://www.songswithearlierhistories.com/what-a-difference-a-day-makes/)

What a Difference a Day Makes

In the song things changed dramatically in a twenty-four hour period. Lonely nights and dreary days are transformed into sunshine and flowers. A rainbow appears where once there were stormy skies. According to the song, all of this changes “Since that moment of bliss that thrilling kiss.” Romance!

Aileen Quinn in Annie (1982)

The idea of drastic and instant positive change is also sounded in the song Tomorrow from the Broadway musical production of Annie. The title character lives in a miserable orphanage run by the terrible Miss Hannigan. But good fortune comes Annie’s way when she is given the opportunity to spend the Christmas holidays in the home of billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Annie repeatedly sings “Just thinkin’ about, tomorrow clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow, till’ there’s none.” The song pronounces an optimistic view of life as she continues, “When I’m stuck with a day that’s grey and lonely, I just stick out my chin, and grin, and say, ‘Oh, the sun’ll come out tomorrow so you gotta’ hang on till’ tomorrow come what may.”

It is true that things can change dramatically overnight, or in the blink of an eye. Adversity can be overcome. Failure can become success. Defeat can be transformed into victory.

But all change that comes quickly is not positive. Health can deteriorate. Fortunes can be lost. Relationships are destroyed. Lives can be snuffed out. In an instant!

It is important to maintain a positive attitude. But things do not always work out like we hoped and planned. When positive thinking comes up short, when the difference a day makes is devastating, what do you do? Where do you turn?

Wisdom of the ages suggests that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present[a]help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). David, the King of ancient Israel gives good advice: The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer. My God is my rock. I take refuge in him! He is my shield, my salvation’s strength, my place of safety” (Psalm 18:2).

Jamie Jenkins

Kenny Rogers - 337 x 450

Kenny Rogers is best known as a singer-songwriter who had more than 120 hit singles and was top of the country and pop charts for more than 200 weeks in the United States alone. Two of the 79 year-old retiree’s albums have been voted as one of “The 200 Most Influential Country Albums Ever”. He was voted the “Favorite Singer of All-Time” in a 1986 joint poll by readers of both USA Today and People.

In 1983 Rogers purchased the Smithsonia Farm near Athens, Georgia and developed the 1,000 acres into a lavish estate he named Beaver Dam Farms. The property includes a 12,000-square-foot mansion, five guesthouses, two clubhouses, an equestrian arena with 44 stalls, two swimming pools, and an 18-hole golf course where Rogers and pals used to play charity tournaments.

The singer sold it in 2003 to a Las Vegas real estate investor who died in 2011. The property was for sale by the investor’s for five years. It listed in 2011 for $20 million and decreased in price several times over the years. It was purchased in July 2016 for $3.5 million just prior to public auction and six months later was put up for auction with a starting bid of $3.9 million.

The Gambler

In 1979 Roger’s best-selling album was released including the title song, The Gambler (You gotta know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em).” The second single from that album “She Believes in Me” was a song written and first recorded by someone else.

“She Believes in Me” is the tale of a songwriter who has a beloved who supports him, although he sometimes wonders why. In one line of the song he expresses his belief that “I could change the world with my little songs.” Then he acknowledges “I was wrong.” Nevertheless, “… she has faith in me, and so I go on trying faithfully. And who knows maybe on some special night, if my song is right I will find a way.”

The singer-songwriter expresses clearly the naivete of an individual thinking that he/she could change the world and then the self-doubt that shows up. However, it is not left there. The realization that someone believes in you can provide the spark needed to continue trying to make a difference. Knowing that someone has confidence in you can be the inspiration to counter any thought of giving up.

Three days after Jesus was crucified and buried his followers were scared for their lives and had gathered behind locked doors. Later that day the resurrected Jesus came to them and assured them that he still had confidence in them. They had deserted Him at His most critical hour and one of them had even denied knowing Him. Nevertheless, Jesus had so much faith in them that He said, “In the same way my Father sent me, I am sending you to be my representatives in the world” (John 20:21).

At their point of greatest failure, Jesus left the future of His cause of world redemption in the hands of those who had let him down. He believed in them. And He empowered them by the Holy Spirit for the task (John 20:22).

There is much said about the need to believe in God but I think it is also important to know that God believes in us. The task to live as God intended is not easy. When we face the cruel realities and temptations of the world it is easy to think that it is impossible. That we are so flawed as evidenced by our many mistakes and failures to be of value to the Cause of Christ.

But He believes in you (and me) and so we go on faithfully doing what we can with what we have in the Name of Jesus.

Jamie Jenkins