Failure is a part of life. It is an inevitable reality of existing in the inconsistent world that we do. On a practical level, it is impossible to be successful at everything. On a metaphysical level, if not for failure, where would our trust in God come from? Hashem put failure into the fabric of the world so that we would learn the lesson of true Emunah – faith in God. Faith in this way means, recognizing that everything that happens to us is for the good, and that God ultimately has our best interest in mind. This is not to say that because of this our lives are destined to be perfect or even filled with ease. This we know, from the stories of those who suffer tremendously. The guarantee, however, of Hashem looking out for us, does mean He has our best interest in mind.
When we accept and acknowledge that this world was not created as our personal amusement park, but rather as our training grounds to being successful human beings, new light is shed on what we ultimately live for. It is not for our own personal enjoyment, but for our chance to grow. When we see life through this lens, every situation looks a little different than it did before.
There was a job I really wanted. I had gone through two interviews and created a workshop. I created documents and spreadsheets, put in hours of effort, presented to the whole senior class and spent several nights praying that I’d get the job.
After the presentation, I spoke with the principal and although she said nothing concrete, I had an inkling the job had slipped through my fingers. Over the weeks that had passed since my first interview, the other principal, whom I had never met, started having a change of heart about the position. The principal explained this to me, and as my heart sank, I felt the inevitable failure approaching. She said she’d let me know.
I wanted to cry, but as I walked the streets, I told myself, what I had practiced: whatever Hashem wants will happen and this is for the best. I assured myself that I would be okay and that I had done everything I could. Now, I had to wait.
Over the next week, I reminded myself of the many times I hadn’t gotten something I wanted, and how it turned out even better. By the time they sent me the formal email, informing me of my rejection, I had been so practiced in my belief that Hashem knows best, that I wasn’t surprised, just disappointed. Over the next few days, I would think of the failure, and remind myself, everything Hashem does is for the best, and I trust Him.
One day, I was brushing my teeth, and remembered my disappointing reality: I hadn’t got the job. This thought popped into my head several times over the past week or so, but this time, I had a response that shocked even me:
“I’m so glad I had the opportunity to fail that way.”
Over the weeks that followed my failure, I had learned the steps to failing successfully. Better I fail in this and grow as a person, than that I get the job, and remain the same. Failing gave me the rare opportunity to not get something I wanted and to trust Hashem anyway.
When we realize, that failure is not failure, but rather an opportunity to succeed, we create spaces in our lives to go beyond what we thought imaginable. We charge ourselves with the mission to accept that which we can’t control. When we see life this way, we see failure not as rejection, but as a conduit for creating a spiritual success.
My failure helped me to succeed at that which I actually wanted: not success in a physical way, but in a spiritual way, by becoming the best person I can be. Through my failure I succeeded. Who can ask for more than that?