I remember the moment I opened the letter. To this day, I can still visualize every detail of the memory down to how the paper felt in my shaking little hands. I was standing in my bedroom, alone, my parents anxiously pacing in the kitchen just down the hallway. I took a deep breath and sliced open the envelope.
It had the college emblem scrawled across the front. It had the official address and the official letterhead and it was officially addressed to me.
It was also officially a rejection letter, saying I was denied acceptance into the program for which I had applied.
That’s it. They didn’t want me. I wasn’t invited. I felt “that feeling” rush over me. You know, when you feel like the smallest person in the entire world, completely rejected from society and doomed to never accomplish anything of importance ever again. And you want to crawl under a million blankets and never come out.
I remember re-reading the words over and over thinking I had to have misread something. This couldn’t be happening. How could I have failed to get into the college I was supposed to go to?
Just like that, my nice, neat little plan for my life post-high school changed…signed, sealed, and delivered.
Perhaps you can relate.
That “I need to crawl under a million blankets” feeling of failure seems to spring up at our most vulnerable of times. The times when we’ve put our heart into it. The times when we’ve already visualized the victory. The times when we had our fork ready for the celebration cake, but instead got handed a comforting pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. To eat. Alone. With our fork.
There’s no way around it—on the surface, failure ain’t fun. So, what’s the point?
What if, instead of labeling a moment or an outcome or a result as a failure, we instead re-framed the situation and looked at it from God’s perspective?
Because, from God’s perspective, it wasn’t a failure at all. Instead, it was a moment that challenged you to become stronger. It was an outcome that led you to redirect your life. It was a result that gave you a chance to lean into your faith, step back, and say, “I trust you, Lord.”
When you look at it that way, it doesn’t seem so much like a failure, does it? In fact, it seems “failures”—as we like to label them—are actually more like building blocks upon which God’s grace, mercy, and love shine brightest.
“Failure” isn’t a word in God’s dictionary.
I can honestly say that my so-called “failure” of not getting into the college program that I had originally decided upon was a blessing in disguise. I ended up attending and graduating cum laude from a different university, and to this day I have nothing but wonderful things to say about every aspect of my college experience. That was where I needed to be. That was where I needed to go.
I needed to “fail” in my plan in order for God to shine in His.
And if you’re wondering…yes, I still have that rejection letter. Sometimes we need the physical reminder that God’s plan is far better than our own.