Many of us will avoid failure at all costs. We sacrifice our relationships, health and dreams just to not appear like a failure. We avoid risk and doubt our abilities. Instead of relying on faith and hard work, we work and worry. I know I did. Last school year, I wasted countless days avoiding and worrying about failure.
Nearing the end of the past semester, I worried myself sick about scoring a summer internship. Not having one made me a failure. I preoccupied myself with getting one. My anxiety was so bad it negatively affected my health.
I lost weight and sleep; and developed stomach ulcers, which caused acute stomach pains. Some days I'd lie in bed and miss class, meals and rehearsals, because I was in so much pain. Stress had taken over my life.
Aside from my regularly scheduled counseling sessions, I often kept my anxiety bottled up. Though my loved ones reached out, I wasn't completely transparent. I adopted the all too familiar facade "I'm alright." And sure enough, my friends and family followed suit. They assured me that everything would be fine, but my gut said otherwise. I knew I was losing control.
I was frantic. Classmates couldn't speak to me without hearing how I'd applied for yet another internship or had another interview scheduled. I applied, hoped, prayed, and (sometimes) fasted. Yet, to no avail did I land any of the coveted journalism internships I'd applied for.
On April 26, I visited the college's chapel and heard a riveting sermon from Reverend Reginald Sharpe, Morehouse '13 alumnus and The House of Hope Macon campus pastor. The message was titled "The Faith to Fail". In the sermon, Rev. Sharpe detailed Jesus' journey to the cross. He was spat upon, ridiculed, whipped, and bruised all the way to his death. To the world, Jesus was a failure.
There I was inside the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, and like Jesus, I felt like a failure. I had no impressive internship, study abroad opportunity, or extensive vacation lined up for the summer. For the first time in my life, I was completely without a plan. I would be returning home defeated.
"Jesus was an ostensible failure in the Jewish culture," Rev. Sharpe shouted. "He was nailed to a cross, adorned with a crown of thorns and satirically labeled the King of the Jews!"
Hearing the death story of Jesus the Christ, I couldn't help but wonder how He felt dying before an audience. Did He wonder if He'd done all He could do? Did He feel like a failure? The world certainly did at the time.
Rev. Sharpe believed Jesus' thought otherwise.
"Jesus knew His gospel would be one of success through failure," Rev. Sharpe preached.
Rev. Sharpe taught from the protestant narrative. In the protestant faith, Christ died; resurrected for all transgression; was exalted by God to the highest place; and was given the name above all names (Philippians 2:9). Christ had the faith to fail.
Now at home I reflect on Rev. Sharpe's message and center my faith. I now believe and have the faith to fail.
Though I am not where I want to be, I believe and know I am exactly where I should be. I am growing, learning and yes failing. I am acknowledging, accepting and forgiving myself and others for our mistakes. No one is perfect and stress certainly doesn't produce perfection.
In my mind, I would intern for a media company in New York for the summer. That was my dream. The idea I could work hard and still lose never occurred to me.
And that's a sad truth, you can lose. You might lose and you certainly will lose if you never try. I learned that we don't fail when we try, but we fail when we never attempt nor learn from our mistakes.
One of my mistakes was believing my faith couldn't be expanded anywhere but in New York. I thought my potential summer there would be a test of my faith. There I would have to rely solely on God. Yet, little did I know that my greatest test of faith would found at home.
At home I am forced to step out on faith daily believing that things must, can and will get better. And better than circumstances, I will grow stronger, wiser and better. Ready for whatever comes my way. I suppose, Sometimes our greatest walks of faith are found in our very own backyard.