Thursday, January 15, 2015

Love and Failure

I was at a budget meeting the other night, and the elders were debating whether or not to fund one of my ideas. They were intrigued by its potential, but there was significant expense and a lot of unanswered questions. The discussion moved toward cutting the idea until more research was done.

When it was clear that my idea was headed for the round file, one of the elders spoke up and suggested we set aside the money for the idea, so that if the research found it to be unfeasible we could spend it on something else “creative and risky.” Without thinking, I agreed and said out loud “Yes. I am all about doing things that are creative and risky.” Every eye turned to me. Maybe it wasn’t the best thing to say at a budget meeting.

But I stand behind what I said. Most good things in life involve risk. And risk often results in failure. But failure and pain are part of the well-lived life. On page 77 of The Artisan Soul, Erwin McManus writes:
“In life I have found two kinds of people to be the most uninteresting. (Is it okay to admit that there are people who are uninteresting?) The first is the person who has never suffered. It is still surprising to me, but I have met people who have told me that they have never suffered, they have never failed; they have lived a life absolutely devoid of pain and disappointment. Living as long as I have, I have discovered that people who live these Teflon lives have only managed that outcome by living a life without risk, courage, passion, or love. We cannot love deeply or risk greatly and never know failure or disappointment. Not even God was able to pull that one off. Love never comes without wounds; faith never comes without failure.”
(Because I know that you are curious, the other most uninteresting person to McManus is the person who is so consumed with their own suffering that they cannot consider the pain of others.)

I love the thought that God’s love came with risk. My seven-year-old asked me the other day if God was going to kill Satan some day. When I said yes, he asked why, if God was strong enough to kill Satan, didn’t He just kill him in the garden.

Good question. He could have.

I have to think that in some way the story of fall-redemption-glory is in some way better than glory alone. In some way, the pain and the scars and the suffering are making a better world. (This doesn’t make them “good”; we still call evil what it is.) I confess, I don’t know how that will be, but I believe it will be.

What do you think? Is it possible to love deeply and never know failure?

1 comment:

greg krejci said...

Absolutely not. To truly love is to open yourself up to all sorts of things, including hurt, failure, misunderstanding, being deceived. Loving sets up the risk of losing,being taken for granted, or being set aside for other more exciting and glamorous things.
But it also opens one's heart to sweet, dear and tender things that may not have the courage to come forth, if we did not have the loving patience to wait for them. "You shall join me in my Kingdom," Jesus told the third.