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Failure is in fact an option

Have you ever heard the saying “Failure is not an option?” I get the sentiment, but is it actually an option? This phrase was made most recently popular in a film about Apollo 13 by NASA flight director Gene Kranz, when he famously said that we had never lost an American in space, we wouldn’t start on his watch, and that failure was not an option.


When I hear failure, I think of times when my team didn’t win at a sporting event, when I haven’t finished within a deadline, or maybe when I have tried to learn a skill and did not succeed. As a child, my mom wanted me to talk dance classes (jazz dance specifically), but I was not good at it. I have 2 left feet and I epically failed at it, throwing in the towel after a short time.


I get the inspiration of the saying and I can appreciate it, but if we are honest, failure is in fact always an option - you can always quit or stop short of success. Failure, in my mind, much like my jazz dance days, is when you stop trying. When you stop trying, you have truly failed.


Thomas Edison is considered the greatest inventor of his. He was responsible for over 1,000 different patents, some refinements of previous inventions, but many completely new ideas. Edison is famous not only for his inventions but also for his attitude on failure. In his mind, failure was simply another steppingstone on the road to success. But unlike the average person, Edison continued to try and try again. The famous story goes that Edison failed to refine the light bulb (one of the few creations he merely refined but did not invent) so many times it took him 10,000 attempts to perfect. Rather than accepting failure 9,999 times, he is quoted as answering questions on his failures as rather, "I have not failed. I have just found 9,999 ways that do not work."


Imagine with me if Ol' Tom Edison had stopped after 10 tries. Maybe 20? Or 100? 1000? We would potentially be living in a different world, without the refinement of the light bulb.


I think of all the times I fell short by giving into the sexual compulsions in my life. I know people who call a slip up a failure, and maybe in their vernacular it is a failure. I for many years called it a "fall.”


”for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.“ -Proverbs‬ ‭24‬:‭16‬ ‭ESV‬‬


”Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.“ -Micah‬ ‭7‬:‭8‬ ‭ESV‬‬


These verses above back up my thinking that falling is not failing. Maybe for the sake of encouragement we might say to someone that failure is not an option, but failure is, in all reality, an option if you choose to fail. I learned through real life experiences - sadly, far too many - that failure, when it happens, is an OUTCOME. The outcome of many mistakes and errors were almost always conscious decisions I made. In almost any “failure” I had it was the outcome of me giving in.


Take what you like and leave the rest. My name is Dean, a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, striving for moral and sexual purity.

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