This I BelieveA friend suggested I submit something to this ongoing NPR project: This I Believe. Here's what I wrote:
I believe in failure. Every mistake I’ve ever made has informed my life. In fact, I can’t imagine my life without my many mistakes. Who would I be if I hadn’t become an alcoholic? What would my life look like now without my friends in recovery? Without the relationship with a God of my understanding that I’ve only gotten through struggling with addiction? What if I had married that guy at age 20 and had that perfect, curly headed child? Would we be divorced by now? (I can almost guarantee a Yes to that question.) Who would I be as a woman if I hadn’t loved and lost and loved and lost? Would I be more whole or less? Who would I be if I hadn’t taken a risk and left my career to try something new? Would I be more successful as a human being or less?
I observe those whose lives seem to clip along at an even and steady pace--graduated on schedule, married on schedule, 2.5 perfect children on schedule, promoted on schedule, and so on—and I wonder how they do it. Members of my own family fall in this category. I am the lone ‘loser’. But it’s all the many losses in my life that have defined me, have cultivated all my better qualities—and a few of my more negative ones, I’ll admit. My faith, my strength, my vulnerability, my openness, my trust, my acceptance, my willingness, my honesty—all are a result of stepping forward in the face of fear, continuing to hope in the face of doubt, and always believing in the good—despite all the bad.
I was told once that there is no right or wrong decision in our lives—there’s only spiritual growth. So, I believe in failing; because if you’ve never failed, you’ve probably never tried. If you’ve never lost love, then maybe you’ve never really taken the risk to love in the first place. If you’ve never lost your footing, then how can you be sure you’ve found the right path after all?