“Well, I guess we’re back to square one,” I told my husband as I scanned the items we needed to dispose of. We had invested time, money, and sleepless nights in a new business; but it had not gone well. It was clearly a disappointing time, and in the middle of clearing out some equipment, questions came to my mind: what are lessons from failure? If God ultimately wants us to be successful, why does He allow us to fail?
I was then reminded of our first week as husband and wife. We decided that Jeremiah 29:11 was going to be our scripture verse. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” is a promise we vowed to cling on to. Heavenly Father wants us to succeed – there was nothing to fear, right?
During one of the most trying times in our young marriage, I held on to the promise in Jeremiah 29:11. We prayed and worked hard for the business, and still, we failed. I knew for a fact that mistakes are part of God’s plan, but our experience – our own taste of failure – made me realize that failing is also part of the equation.
Our “epic fail” of a business venture helped us realize four important lessons about failure, and God’s plan for us. The Lord – because of His love for His children – will allow us to fail, to make mistakes. Here are some reasons why.
Failing Makes Faith Meaningful
Should failure mar our faith? If we allow it, it could. But if we try to see the role of failure in the bigger picture, we can begin to see how it makes faith meaningful. Not getting the results we have originally – and faithfully – planned can teach us lessons on humility, preparation, and holding firm to the Lord’s promises.
One of the biggest examples of meaningful faith was Nephi. He was faithful – he was sure the Lord would not fail those who follow His commandments. But when he and his brothers were tasked with getting the sacred records from Laban, they failed, twice. If Nephi had allowed those failures to overcome his faith, he could have walked out in a heartbeat. But he persevered. Perhaps through of their two failed attempts, Nephi was able to learn how to navigate Laban’s house and impersonate him – two things that could have contributed to their success.
Should failure make us question our faith? If we allow it, it could. But if we learn from it, and get something from it, failure can make faith more meaningful.
Failures Show Us That Heavenly Father is in the Details of Our Lives
When we decided to finally give up on the business, my mind was filled with questions. “Father, we prayed hard for this. We were so positive about this. Why did things not go the way we planned?”
Have you also asked that question? Have you also questioned the Lord’s plan for you? Have you ever wondered why – after preparation and hard work – things still did not work out?
Our experience with our failed business taught us something: that the Lord is in the details of our lives.
A few months after our failed investment, a new business idea came to my husband. One that continues to be productive and steady until now. Failing one business was necessary for us to learn and move on to a better one.
We were reminded of the Prophet Joseph Smith. After learning that the 116 pages of The Book of Mormon manuscript were gone, he exclaimed “All is lost!” But in the Lord’s bigger plan, it wasn’t. He saw Joseph Smith’s failure 2000 years before, and He was ready for it.
He sees our failures, He can turn our failures into blessings. He also knew we will make mistakes, so He provided us a Savior. The Lord is in the details of our lives. His plan for mankind, and His plan for each of us is perfect. He is true to His promise that He has plans for us to succeed. Those promises may not be evident now, but they will surely unfold in the Lord’s own time.
Mistakes Allow Us to Make Better Decisions
I still think of those bitter months time and time again. Although I remember the fear and worry I had to endure, I am better reminded of one of the biggest lessons on failure – our wrong decisions can help us learn to make better choices. Because we know well what happens when we make hasty decisions, we will know better to take time and ask the Lord’s will.
Of course, the Lord will not lead us to the paths of sin, but He will allow us, through experiences, mistakes and failures, to increase our knowledge so we can make better choices.
Lessons from Failure Make Us Realize that Success is One Faithful Step at a Time
“Lead Kindly Light” by John Henry Newman has become one of my favorite hymns about faith. When we experience moments of uncertainty and failure, it’s easy to desire greater light – an understanding to help us see what the future holds for us.
But in reality, enough light to illuminate only the next two or three steps is what we actually need– what we can put our trust in. Success in this life and in the life to come is dependent on what we do with the light provided for us.
We can’t always know what lies ahead, but the Lord does. As we bravely use that feeble light, and as we take one faithful step at a time, believing that the Lord will guide our way, we can move past our failures and find success.
Failing is never an easy thing to appreciate. But when we realize that moments of failure can often help us understand more, learn more, and do more, we begin to see why failure is part of God’s plan for us.