In the course of blogging elsewhere about how to create a life’s to do list, I wrote the following words:
Failure is always an option. Your list may include goals that you never actually accomplish. Circumstance may dictate that your life takes you along a path other than the one you’ve mapped out for yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over it, don’t fret over what might have been. Instead, take a time-out to think about what you might do instead and add a new idea or two to your list.
I wanted to share those sentiments here in the context of how we think of our spiritual paths. So often, I run across people who are stuck in the mud and spinning their wheels because something, usually described as “terrible” or “catastrophic”, has happened to them. Perhaps a crisis has tested someone’s beliefs or perhaps a deity did not answer a desperate heart-felt prayer. The person becomes the epitome of the 8 of Swords in most tarot decks – seemingly trapped in their own bonds, fearful of the pain it would cost them to break free. So they remain stock still and no longer walking their path.
What we so often forget as we strive for spiritual growth is that it is not a question of if we will fail, but of when we will do so. More importantly, it is a question of how we will cope with these failures. We can fret over them, wring our hands, and stay still in hopes that no one will notice our failures. We can live in fear of retribution by our deities for our mistakes. We can throw ourselves to the ground, wailing and kicking at the injustice of it all, like a two-year old who has just lost a favorite toy. We can become so terrified of making another error that we abandon our paths altogether.
Or we can acknowledge our failures and glean what we can from them. We can take a spiritual time-out to catch our breath and decide what we need to do in order to again move forward. We can accept, no matter how unbelievable it may seem, that failure is part of healthy spiritual growth and that the path we find ourselves on is exactly the one we should be following.
In the end, it is only our choices about how to handle missteps and failure that we can control. What is it that you choose for yourself?