Failure is ALWAYS an option

I hate failure. With great passion. Admittedly, I hate it so much I fear to start something just because I could fail. Looking back over the years, I know I have missed some amazing opportunities because I fear to fail.

The world has made me fear. It’s definitely not God’s doing. God wants to push me over the edge because he knows my wings will make me fly. Fear does not have God’s flavor on my tongue at all, it’s acidic and has a nasty back-taste. Where God and his promises are full bodied and effervescent.

I have been contemplating failure a lot lately. Part of the reason is that I am nowhere near where I would have thought I’d be by now. I had this amazing life planned, working in a hospital and volunteering with retirement centers around my community as a chaplain. Perhaps finally doing a little bit of traveling. I never thought that life would be taking the look of what it is right now. I never thought God would place me where he did when he seemed to fill my mind with such dreams.

My life is not bad. I am very blessed to have the job I do, taking care of a lady who is just a few short months away from turning 100. I’ve learned a lot taking care of her. I am an active member in my church as a Sunday School Superintendent and teacher, which still surprises me since I grew up in that church. To think that these people are trusting me to teach them God’s word is daunting and occasionally nerve-wracking. The responsibility is big and I am still learning. Just because I have a piece of paper that says I satisfactorily completed Bible studies in a graduate level school, doesn’t mean that I still don’t have a lot learn.

Sometimes, I desperately miss school. I miss the constructed learning environment where I could fail and learn without it it necessarily making a huge impact on my life. I miss the drive that I had to succeed– not that I don’t still have it, but it seems to be missing a focus on a set goal. Now my drive to succeed sometimes just feels like getting to the next paycheck. Not that inspiring.

Life is about failure. It’s about coming at a situation and finding a way through it. Most time, if we are honest with ourselves, it rarely takes one time through a situation. We usually have to stop and reevaluate our tools and knowledge before attacking it again, perhaps at a different angle.

God gave me dreams for a reason. I think he has given me the ways to put them into action. I just need to learn how to trust him more than worrying about my bank account.

Failure in the science world is seen as a success in many ways. Albert Einstein famously said, “I have tried 99 times and have failed, but on the 100th time came success.” Scientists don’t give up when they meet with resistance. They take notes and then tweak a variable before attempting it again. Their brains- their hypothesis–says that it should be possible, they just need to find a way to make it work in real life.

To live life as if it was a hypothesis. A possibility that could be made reality. To know that dead ends and sudden twists are great adventures that mean it could still be an amazing discovery. To know with certainty that what you know to be true still has the ability to amaze you when you discover that there is more than that certainty.

It’s interesting. I view my theological inquires- my study of the nature of God and my religious beliefs– as a human hypothesis of God. I have long believed that if I held my beliefs as such, I would be able to be willing to let God show me his true self. My feeble human words can never accurately and completely describe the Divine. The Divine cannot be contained in the failing words that I use. To believe they can, is to shove God into a box, and he cannot be contained. I read all theologians’ writings with this thought, it is their very human attempt to explain an aspect of God that they see. They are bound to make mistakes just like I am. If I have a prayerful heart and ask God to continually show me who he really is, I am less likely to be led astray by theologians whose own prejudices influence their definition of God and salvation.

Perhaps this seems to be very childish view at God from someone who has a Masters Degree in the Bible. But, then again, Christ exhorted the disciples to come like children to him, which is to say, humbly and without artifice. When those who call themselves theologians and have the degrees to back them talk of God, do they do it humbly? Or is it with a certain arrogance that says they know it all? Listen and learn from them, but make sure you always have a faith that is open to God’s guidance. When you speak to others about the God you follow, be honest, say you don’t know everything but what you do know has changed your life.

I have been blessed mightily by the theologians that God has placed in my educational/spiritual life. But, I know that they don’t know it all.

I will always need to learn more about God. And I will never know everything about my faith and salvation until he calls me to his side and explains what it really is. My human hypothesis will then be put to the test, and I much rather hear him say, “Close, but let me show you what you didn’t understand.” Rather than, “Wrong! That is not what I was doing!”

I am attempting to live life as a hypothesis. There is nothing stopping me from trying again, but myself. It’s hard to put into practice though. Human constraints whether real or imagine seem to wrap themselves around me and I hesitate. Why am I willing to do it with the most important aspect of my existence- my faith- but I’m not willing to do it with this very human existence? Failure seems to be knocking whenever I think of going off script.

Makes me want to pull a Mythbusters and blow something up before trying again.

Here’s to living life without fear! May I seek it with a full heart, because God gave me wings and is encouraging me on.

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Why Are There So Many More Disabled People Now?

Why Are There So Many More Disabled People Now?.

A wonderful article looking at the hard history of asylums and the entrance of those with disabilities into the public experience.

Education is power

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This week, the Nobel Peace Prize was given out to two people: Pakistani child education activist, Malala Yousafzai and Indian child rights campaigner, Kailash Satyarthi “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

While I admittedly have not heard a lot about Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, I have heard about Ms. Malala Yousafzai’s struggle and courage in speaking up for the right to education for children in Pakistan and ultimately the world. She has made her stand against the Taliban and was attacked because of her convictions.

It all started because she wanted to learn. She wanted what was a given for free in America, and she was willing to put her life on the line to get the chance at an education. Due to her very vocal advocacy for the right to education, the Taliban put out an assassination hit against her. A hit man boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, then proceeded to open fire. Malala was hit with a single bullet that went through her head, neck, and shoulder. Two of her friends were also injured.

It was a miracle that she lived.

But, her conviction was so strong, that she refused to be cowed by the Taliban. She continued to speak out regarding the need for all children to have equal access to education. She also continued to attend school.

It got me thinking about how Americans regards our education. We have the ability and the means for every single person in the United States to have a well rounded education. We even offer Running Start where high school students have the option of attending community college for free and so many students don’t use it. They could graduate with their high school diploma and an Associates of Arts degree which would jump start graduate school degrees.

We live in a world where children are being doused with acid on the way to learn their alphabet. We also live in a world where those who have the privilege to get homework, find excuses to never complete it, and accuse the teachers of wanting to sabotage them.

We live in a world where:
66 million girls are out of school worldwide.
Every 3 seconds a girl becomes a child bride.
4 out of 5 Human Trafficking victims are girls (malala.org)

And why is that? Because those women do not have a chance at education. Education is power. That is why Malala was attacked. She had gained power because she was learning the world and her place in it.

I remember going through school and how I struggled for my education. I was surrounded with children who school came rather easy to, but because of my various ‘disabilities’ and ‘IEP’s’ I had to work hard for every good grade I got. I appreciated my schooling. No A needs to be given easily, neither does a B or a C. Grades need to be given out for the work given. The last two years of my high school, I was in a private school, I will admit it freely, I did NOT do the work needed.

At the end of the semester, my parents and I sat in front of the principal and I was asked to give myself a grade. I gave myself a C. The principal said that that was too harsh and that I needed at least a B+. What does that teach a student? How does that prepare them for life? It doesn’t. My parents, but more importantly, I, stood firm that I deserved a C because I didn’t do the work that I was capable of.

Do you know what I regret most in my education? Those wasted months where I didn’t work hard. I had all of this power at my fingertips and I didn’t take advantage of it.

I love school. I love learning. I love education. I wish that love could be instilled in every student who has the privilege of school.

Where we live in a world where students are taught for free under a bridge in India because they can’t afford school fees, American children can’t keep their eyes open through an hour class. What are we missing?

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We have allowed the government to put their fingers in our schools so that history, math, science, literature–all have been affected by their dabbling.  What can happen when a governing body uses their politics to control the populace? Education is always one of the first things suffer. What do we hear during tax hikes? “We can’t afford for this class to continue.” “Music classes need to stop.”

We allow sports to have more money and power in a school than something that can actually further the ability to learn. Music has been scientifically proven to help memory as well as teach retention and problem solving, but it is almost always the first ‘extracurricular’ class to go when money is tight. We always have the money though to fight for our football teams…

There is something very wrong with our priorities.

What can we learn from women like Malala? Can we learn to love our education? Can we learn to give our teachers their power back? Can we learn to protect our schools from greedy politicians? Can we fight for the right to learn as much as we fight and support our rights to throw a ball?

Malala Yousafzai says something that really is struck me, “I want to say to the world. You must try to get an education because it is very important. If the new generation is not given pens they will be given guns by the terrorists.”

How do we break deadly ideologies? How do we create a world where racism, class-ism, and sexism do not have any power? By teaching of the bigger world, by teaching history and science, and the ability to think for ourselves. By giving the power to be able to have both sides of the argument and being able to see them honestly.

Americans are compliant to their own educational downfall. There should be NO reason for such a large number of illiterate children in our nation when we have free schools. If we had to walk ten miles for the chance to learn numbers, would we love school more? If we had to sneak into school to avoid protesters and assassins, would we study harder? Would we stop spending thousands of dollars in college for the chance to party and get drunk, if we had the chance to bring in a little money to our family because we got to learn how to read?

Fight for your right to your free education. There are people out there dying for the chance to learn. Literally.