Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Success and Failure

Have I ever mentioned that Honest Abe is my favorite.
I mean really, he did it - He said, slavery is wrong, let's do this.
Let's end it and be a nation.

And yet, his courage and bravery and brilliance came in the face of much failure.
Our most successful president, faced defeat often. (Thank you google search)

•1831 - Lost his job
•1832 - Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature
•1833 - Failed in business
•1834 - Elected to Illinois State Legislature (success)
•1835 - Sweetheart died
•1836 - Had nervous breakdown
•1838 - Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker
•1843 - Defeated in run for nomination for U.S. Congress
•1846 - Elected to Congress (success)
•1848 - Lost re-nomination
•1849 - Rejected for land officer position
•1854 - Defeated in run for U.S. Senate
•1856 - Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President
•1858 - Again defeated in run for U.S. Senate
•1860 - Elected President (success)

And why would I bring this up. Especially right before Christmas, thank you happy happy joy joy. It's because on Sunday, I bit it hard. I had one of the worst sharing times ever.

Pause and rewind 8 years. BYU, I'm student teaching at a title one school with the urban education cohort.

Wait. I promise I'm not quite at dementia yet, rewind 20ish years ago when I'm in 6th grade. I have a reading buddy, Mary who is in 1st grade. She can't read. And yet with our time spent together she learns. Granted, was I the one who taught her, no. But I felt like I had. It was my first inkling that my purpose in life was to teach. I loved her joy as she learned a new word or could sound out a difficult word. It was so crystal clear to me, even then that teaching children would be for me.

OK. Back to the cougars. I'm student teaching and I have a boy who is bipolar, ADD, and prone to violence. And he disliked me. A couple lessons were rough and I always ended up in tears when I got home. It got to me and I vowed I would never have bad lessons again. I worked through it and ended up confident that one day I'd be a good teacher.

Fast forward to last Sunday. Chaos. 10 nursery kids coming in to see what primary is like, 1 eating the microphone on the pulpit. At least 3 children scattered throughout the room crying. 30 others were completely done with sitting. I have exactly 7 minutes to teach about the 2nd coming. We're doing pictures so children are in and out through the door.

Did I not pray? Did I not spend time preparing? What did I do wrong?

I tried to do too much with too little time. I tried to get too many children up and out of their seats. I was talking over the children/adults talking (who were only talking because they were trying to calm children) and trying to move on without everyone's attention. I was forgetting names.

I feel so peaceful about it, is that weird and strange?
I know I can do better, I know I can learn from my mistakes, I know I am far from perfect and most importantly... I know God loves me.

I've learned it's OK to laugh at yourself everyone once and awhile.

President Monson of course says it much better, "Our responsibility is to rise from mediocrity to competence, from failure to achievement. Our task is to become our best selves. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final." (Thomas S. Monson, "Never Give Up", New Era, Sept. 1994)

Now is it OK to cry. Of course! Failure can be so annoying and frustrating!!!! Our prophet continues on and says, "We are success-oriented, striving to become “wonder women” and “super men.” Any hint of failure can cause panic, even despair."

But you know what, at least we're trying. At least we're there and doing our calling to the best of our ability.
"U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena” (The American Treasury: 1455–1955, ed. Clifton Fadiman, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1955, p. 689). Unfortunately, too often we're our own worst critic.

The beautiful talk is ended with " Each of us is a runner in the race of life. Comforting is the fact that there are many runners. Reassuring is the knowledge that our eternal Scorekeeper is understanding. Challenging is the truth that each must run. But you and I do not run alone. That vast audience of family, friends, and leaders will cheer our courage, will applaud our determination as we rise from our stumblings and pursue our goal. Let us shed any thought of failure. Let us discard any habit that may hinder. Let us seek; let us obtain the prize prepared for all, even exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God."

So this post is for me and all my fellow sisters who have failed miserably. I'm cheering for us. We can do it, because God will help us! Next week will be awesome! Next week will be fabulouso!!!

We may not end up Presidents of a great nation, or freeing a noble people... but we are important. We are the instruments in the Lord's hands. We are His children who will help gather and usher in His glorious reign on earth. Life is good. Keep on truckin.


Melanie said...

Adorable. Thank you for your post on failure. It's just what I needed.

Mark & Ashley said...

When it's my turn for sharing time, I will pray and read the scriptures, read the sharing time lesson or your help (whichever I feel the Spirit prompts me to do) throughout the week and again Sunday morning as a final read-through...then I will begin my lesson and occasionally the Spirit directs me to a completely different path or a slightly different story to accompany the scriptures. Despite following the Spirit, I sometimes feel those "un-planned" lessons failed because I stumbled on thoughts or words as I tried to listen to the Spirit, or the kids were rowdier than usual, or whatever the circumstance. But, because the Spirit directed me and I listened, I have peace about it, knowing that someone in that room needed what I said/did, and that is enough for me.

Thank you for this blog!

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Sister Melanie- :) Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Sister Ashley- Thanks for your thoughts. The spirit works in mysterious ways... Merry Christmas!!!

Erin said...

That is exactly how JR Primary went for me on Sunday. So many kids so much talking, I just got so stressed! And I was combining weeks 2 and 3 with Singing Time. I just felt so frazzled by the end. But SR Primary went very well, so I came home feeling good. Thanks for all your help!

shannon said...

Thanks for this great reminder to not beat myself up and agonize over the times when things get dicey and I don't do so hot! I need to post this on my fridge!! Have fun tomorrow!

Kelly said...

Sofia, I love how much you love primary! Tell me how you do it! I have been called to primary presidencies almost half a dozen times in the 8 years since joining the grown-up world of callings. I love children, especially my own :)I pray for the children and their teachers and feel inspiration when I prepare lessons, but I just do not love primary like you seem to and I want to! Have you always just loved it so much?

Sofia's Primary Ideas said...

Sister Erin- Frazzle Me Freddie Fandangovich Fullhilda. Say 10 times super fast with a german accent and you'll feel better. Glad Senior at least went well!

Sister Shannon- You are great. You know what I need to post on my refridgerator... BUTTER IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. In all honesty, I one time posted a picture of a guy with frostbite up because my daughters were asking me why they had to wear their coats in the ice cold weather. Such a valuable tool.

Sister Kelly- Good question. Here's my opinion. You don't have to love it!! Just do your best, love the children and what you teach and don't worry about loving the rest. There are lots of things I don't love, for example meetings and "details". Gag me with a stick. But I could be totally wrong. Next time you're in Reno, we'll get together... I know a great Thai place we can mull it over. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts.