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Failing or Failure?

Someone said, “No one ends up where they aim…not even God.”

Really? Not even God?  Surely, this person was not suggesting that God sometimes fails?

Yes, come to think of it, I suspect God does. From the beginning, didn’t creation become one colossal failure?  And, centuries later, Jesus shows up. Even if you believe that he showed up on this earth as one sent by God to take on himself the failure of humanity and so die in your stead (something I once believed and many in the Christian community still do), I have often wondered how I could look at his life or study his teachings and draw any other conclusion than that his life, too, was a colossal failure. He once said of himself, “I have come to seek and to save the lost.”

Well, did he succeed? No and yes. What do you suppose his agony was in the Garden on the night before his crucifixion? A celebration of his successes?  Wasn’t it the agony of defeat, even death…his own?  But, of course! He knew this. The tide of popularity had swelled into a drowning wave of pain and rejection. He was in sheer agony. He, too, had failed, having not achieved what he hoped.

Or, was it a failure?

I have learned something important in a grace-awakened state of consciousness, which I describe at length in The Enoch Factor. There’s a difference as wide as the Grand Canyon between failing and being a failure.  Most of my life, I have lived with the feeling of being short-changed, as if I was just one step away from achieving whatever the ego in me had imagined was necessary to award me fulfillment, a sense of completion, a kind of endless personal satisfaction.  I don’t know how many times, for example, I’ve had an ingenious idea only to pick up the paper and read about some wag in Utah who had beaten me to the draw, made his fortune, and all pertaining to the same damn dream I had.  For much of my life, I have lived, not only the reality of failing, but the feeling as if I am a failure…even a loser. Unless you’re like me, you can only imagine how awful it is to live your life standing as it were at the precipice of success while the ego taunts you like a teenage bully, “Failure!” “Phony!” “Loser!”

Seems hard to believe, doesn’t it? Oh, I know some of you read my musings, look at my websiteand think, “Wow, he’s made it!” Made it? You don’t know what haunts me at night.  You have no clue the profound feelings of inadequacy that dog me day.

Gratefully, I have learned what it is–it is the ego in me. And that’s how the little monster himself beats you up almost continually. Living with him can be, in the words of St. John of the Cross, “the dark night of the soul.”  I would be insane today were it not for the fact that in my spiritual awakening I have seen in Jesus’ own failure a glimmer of personal hope…a pathway to my own destiny.  Yes, I suppose, in one sense, Jesus failed, as did the Buddha. For years, he searched, sacrificed, and tore at his soul to find solace, serenity, satisfaction. Then, unexpectedly, one night under the Bodhi tree, a miracle happened. Liberation from the internal monster was its reward.

In the miracle that is the Universe, what I refer to as God, to fall is to find yourself in a destiny you never dreamt of before. On such occasions, failing could only ever mean you’re fragile…you’re human…and, you’re in need of something, or Someone, grander than yourself to do in you what you cannot do for yourself–transform you into that which you truly are, not a trophy case full of forgotten accomplishments, not a “success” with the cars, or houses, or Oscars to prove it. No, but someone infinitely more wonderful than anything that would award you pleasure today and pain tomorrow. No, where Grace takes you is to a finer destiny indeed.

And where is that?

You’ll see. Just wait. You’ll see. Or, maybe you’ve seen it already. That little place deep inside you that begs exploration.  You’ve been listening to the degrading voice of the inner ego long enough. And when you tire of him–and, you can be sure, YOU WILL tire of him–then your journey will begin.  For as one spiritual teacher put it, “When the search for God ends, the journey WITH God begins.”

This voice that calls out, ever so lightly, is unobtrusive…almost inconspicuous. It is, in the words of the Psalmist, “a still, small voice”…waiting patiently for an opportunity.

There is no judgment in her voice, only joy; No criticism in her tone, only encouragement; no failure in her plans; only a future.  YOURS, as a matter of fact! Blessed holiday, my friend!  Grace is born!