failure and how it gets used

It’s weird how failures from a decade or more ago can still hang heavy around me. Ok, failures is not accurate. There is a one failure in my life that comes back on me over and over again. I’m not sure why, but it has had a profound impact on me.

I haven’t had to many things in my life that were out and out failures. Lest you think me arrogant, let me also say I haven’t had many things that would be deemed out and out successes, at least by worldly standards.

The glaring exception is my entrance and eventually dismissal from the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (Quantico, VA). After making it through the first half of the first summer school I was NPQ’d (Not Physically Qualified). I had worn quarter size holes in my heels with boots that didn’t fit, developed a nasty infection and achilles tendonitis. I left on crutches and would heal physically over the next six to eight weeks, but more than my legs had been wounded.

It might seem trivial to some, but I go through periods in my life when I really struggle with this failure. I struggle thinking that I wasn’t man enough to make it and it causes me to wonder if I’m man enough to be a good husband, father, pastor, etc. It leads to a lot of self doubt and a reluctance to step out and take risks, to attempt bold ventures. A short while ago, summer of 2007 I think it was, I was so bothered by this that I actually considered going through the OCS program again just to put it behind me (and no, I’m not too old. The recruiter told me so). Lynn got mad, real mad, when I even mentioned it and Caleb cried. Oops.

This isn’t the typical kind of posting from me, but I want to think aloud how this failure in my life has been used to shape me into the person I am now – for good and for ill – and think about how failures can be used by Satan to destroy but by God to sharpen. It’ll be a much more existential than biblical, but hopefully helpful, at least to me but maybe to other as well. Stay tuned…