I experienced utter and complete failure one recent Wednesday night at 10:59 PM. The pain was acute, piercing, intense, deep in my gut. It unhinged me for a minute; left me feeling limp and in need of support. Suddenly, I realized I had that ally in the most unlikely character as a result of Netflixing the latest season of Once Upon a Time!
I know, right? Well, bear with me for a second (no spoilers)....
This season weaves in the character of Merida from Disney/Pixar's 2012 movie Brave. Merida's story line features a witch who gave her father a magic helmet when he asked for something "to ensure the continuation of his kingdom." In the category of 'be careful what you ask for,' he thought the helm would work because its power would make all the clans follow him into battle, no matter how deadly the foe, or hopeless the cause. Suffice it to say, that's not at all the way the magic worked! It took some time to see how that helmet created the outcome of ensuring continuity in the kingdom and, for quite a while, it looked as if it had failed its purpose...and not just failed but Fuhhhh-Ayyyylllllled, on a Very. Grand. Scale.
I'm sure that I am sometimes annoying in the extreme to my friends and family members, when I express my core spiritual belief: everything that happens is for my greatest good, your greatest good, the greatest good of the world. Even when the present circumstances appear negative or painful, hopeless or enraging, I know this is true.
I firmly believe this version of reality! In fact, I can honestly look back on my life and find not one so-called awful occurrence that didn't, eventually, turn out to be the right thing, the best thing, the thing that shaped my journey in a uniquely perfect direction. Not one. And my life has been blessed by some pretty awful-looking occurrences!
Okay.... So, this past week: months of work, hundreds of hours of effort by multiple people, and a pretty substantial investment in my organization by a foundation, all came together at a moment of truth. The federal grant proposal we'd been preparing, with the grant writer paid by the foundation, had to be submitted by web upload no later than 10:59 PM. A variety of circumstances that created delays throughout the summer were topped off by a HUGE delay during the last 48 hours before this deadline...and we missed the deadline. By minutes. Technology glitches at our "11th hour" race to the finish prevented us from uploading the proposal.
And so we failed.
Or did we? If I hold to my spiritual truth, then this apparent failure was for the greatest good: both my good and that of the organization I lead. We failed to submit a $22 million, 4-year proposal that was SO competitive surely it would be funded.... And that's a good thing...? Not just a good, but an event that leads to the greatest good???
Okay, first? OUCH! This event hurt. A lot. We were going to be able to change the lives of a lot of people with this project, including 160 infants and toddlers in some pretty challenged neighborhoods. So, I felt that pain...and I let the emotion move through me, filling me up for a little while and then draining away, as e-motions should.
Only then could I get my spiritual belief legs back under me and look at the whole experience from that perspective of knowing that life unceasingly unfolds from an abundant, generous, and joyous creative source. It wants nothing more of me than to experience life abundantly, generously, joyfully, and creatively. It does not punish me with pain and bereavement.
Only from this perspective can I begin to look back and see some of the signposts along our recent journey that gave hints we had strayed a bit, reached an elevation where the environment was challenging beyond the tools we'd brought to the hike. Like novice climbers scaling Mt. Everest without oxygen tanks or polar fleece layers, we'd hit some cold, rarified air and had experienced a few mysterious effects. Not yet attributing the signals to a mismatch of ambition to resources, we soldiered on up the ridges before us, climbing, climbing, climbing....
We might have seen a few signs of warning along the way, but failed to recognize the messages.
My little magic-helm story of that recent Wednesday night, at first, plunged me deeply into the perspective that this event was an epic failure. That was when that witch character who conjured up the helmet suddenly became a hero to me! She noted that she prided herself on satisfied customers and Merida's mother wryly commented that her ways were a bit complicated. Right now, I'm thinking, "She ain't even begun to see complicated! Take a look at what a Divine Plan can look like...."
Apparently, Divine Plan for me right now has this event--this seeming epic failure--squarely in front of me to cope with. I am the one offering apologies to all those individuals who were let down in some way by our lack of submission. I am the one, over and over, "fessing up" that we didn't make it to the finish line after engaging their time, effort, and passionate commitment behind our banner.
And so I keep soldiering on again, but differently. I soldier on in the confident faith that there is a higher purpose for this event. Someday I may see that higher purpose and recognize it for the long-term outcome it is. Perhaps not.
Watch this blog for news of her weekend intensive this fall, Live a Sovereign Life with the 7 Childhood Treasures. She expects to publish her book of the same name in 2017.