So, true story. When I was in high school, I took Calculus. It was extremely difficult. The formula’s looked like puzzles, and the graphs looked like they mocked my grade. The teacher would write or put her notes on the board and read them to us. It was tough, but I was going to pass to say that I did Calculus. So, I worked hard, copied whatever she wrote, and spent hours on my homework. I only got a B in that class, but it was Calculus. So, a B was great and it was a win. I felt smart. I succeeded. The teacher had us watch a movie she liked at the end of the course. During this time, I was failing English.
My English teacher at the time, knew I could do better. She asked to get my free block, sent a note home to my parents, wrote and critiqued every assignment I turned in. I was so annoyed with her. I didn’t like the content, I didn’t like the homework, I didn’t like how dumb I felt. How each time I stared at the empty piece of paper or those questions with the deep chasms of emptiness between them, I drowned in the fact that I couldn’t, wouldn’t, do it right. So, what was the point of doing it anyway?
I hated failing and I hated English. Though, I told my mom I hated the teacher. Still, my mom (and God) pushed me to do my work. To keep going. To wait on the math assignment and write one more paragraph. My teacher praised and commented on every assignment even after I entered the passing range. At the end, I passed that course with a C. The teacher came up to me and told me that she hoped to see me again, with a genuine smile on her face. When I told her, I wasn’t going to continue because I barely survived this one, she recommended another course. Because I could do it.
Seven years later, I accepted a job teaching English as a second language.
Imagine my surprise when on June 23rd I found out that the company I was working for was shutting down and it was not the company I would miss. It was the actual work of teaching English to kids. Yes, I do plan on continuing to teach, it was just, at the time, I realized I went from failing at English to missing teaching it. This subject I loathed, I enjoyed teaching it. It was a simple form of English, but still, in high school I could never see myself even teaching the simple things.
In Habakkuk it talks about how even though things will fail, go barren, and go empty, Habakkuk will rejoice in the Lord. He will find joy in the God of his salvation. When I took English in high school, I failed, my homework was unproductive, and felt empty headed. If I didn’t have God to push me, there was no way I would have passed that class. Yet years later, when my classroom went empty, the workplace became bare, and the company failed, God saved my peace by reminding me that I can find joy again. I can teach English somewhere else. It’s not the end for me.
And for all the amazing people I worked with (from the sweet cleaning lady to my bosses who ate lunch with me) and the students I taught (the work in the picture was done by one of them and it was her first story whole page!), it is not the end for them either. They are still breathing. They survived this failing too. I’m not alone. They’re not alone. We can all find joy again if we keep going.
Failing is hard and it is even harder to get back up from it. It hurts us, it infuriates us, it reminds us that we need God. Succeeding lasts for a brief moment, but it is never as memorable as when you survive a failure. Because when you survive a failure, you’re not alone. You survived that failure with help. You came out worn out and relieved but also just a bit stronger. If you come out of failure with God, He can turn that failure into something you could never imagine, joy.
So, thank you Disney English for showing me how to have joy in failure. Thank you for showing me how to fail with God.
Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.Habakkuk 3:17-18 NKJV