Probably because I was at a high school graduation for my niece a couple of weeks ago, I’m reminded of a commencement address I heard several years ago, which the speaker entitled, “In Defense of Failure.”
The idea behind the speech is not new; you can google “In Defense of Failure” and find articles from Time and The Atlantic, along with some information from National Public Radio on the subject.
For all of us in the Pregnancy Help Community however, we need to be reminded that failure is not an end, but can often be a beginning for new ideas, new initiatives and new ways to impact our culture.
In my life, failure opened a lot of doors. My failure as a professional golfer is a great example.
And boy, did I fail. For one, I was never a top college golfer. While I played for a good program, I was never a star but was more of an also-ran. I tried professional golf because I had an opportunity handed to me to give the big-time a whirl. Within six months, I had made next to nothing in small-time events and went looking for a real job.
Oh, I could call myself a professional golfer (anyone can do this, actually—it’s just a matter of declaring, “I am a professional” and you’re off and running). But when people ask me, “What big tournaments did you play in?” I don’t have an answer except, “None.” My trip to the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament started well, but the wheels fell off on my second round and I’m still looking for them.
Failure. Abject, absolute failure. But . . .
Today I have stories to tell in front of audiences, stories that allow me to be transparent, opening the door to questions like, “How did a golfer wind up in pregnancy help ministry?” and reminding me that while professional golf is an attractive occupation, serving in the pro-life community is a calling beyond anything golf could offer.
Recently I got an email from a friend asking how I got involved in serving pregnancy help centers. The answer begins with a failed effort to begin a publication for our ministries. Within a few months of starting the publication, there were too few takers to make a living for my family. To keep the publication going, I took a job at my children’s school as the Director of Development, teaching me many principles I use today in serving our centers, homes and agencies.
Failure. And from failure, opportunity.
All of us have failures in life (if you don’t, call me and let me know your secret). Some in our ministries feel a sense of failure over a past decision to end a pregnancy. Others have seen failure in relationships, in ministry work, in business. All of us carry regrets over something.
Failure allows us the freedom to be real with those with whom we come in contact, whether a client, a donor or simply someone wanting to know more about what we do. In a sense, failure opens doors for true, powerful interaction with others.
Tweet This: Failure isn't the end, but a fresh start for new ideas. #prolife @KirkWalden
While it is not necessary (or even prudent) to open a conversation with a listing of our regrets, we don’t need to hide from them, either.
If we want to know why we in the Pregnancy Help Community, as opposed to the abortion industry, are becoming more attractive to those facing challenging life situations, our transparency is part of the reason.
Think about it: Will anyone in the abortion industry ever admit to regret over abortion? No, because to share any second-thoughts would undermine the entire construct that abortion is somehow a wonderful and freeing experience.
Or will those in the permissive, “Do what feels good at the moment” culture ever talk seriously about the benefits of holding off on a sexual relationship until marriage? Absolutely not, because denying oneself immediate pleasure is anathema to the entire idea of self-worship.
In the abortion-promoting, sexual revolution society, there is no room for self-examination, for regret, or for admitting a failure in any area. But those who need us most realize this is not real life.
In real life there are second thoughts, regrets, pain and struggle. In real life things aren’t as easily shrugged off as they are in the theoretical fantasyland the abortion lobby wants to create.
And because we are transparent and open enough, when the situation is right, to talk of our failures, our clients and patients see us as a place of reality where hope and strength can be found in the midst of trials. The abortion lobby doesn’t see this.
They have no idea what they are missing, and this is good news for the Pregnancy Help Community as we continue to gain traction in reaching those who need us most.