Failing our Way to Success
As I have mentioned Leah was devastated by Mrs. Clinton’s loss. As we continued walking from the Javits Center mostly in a heavy silence every once in a while she would say, “what a difference a day makes”. I am certain she was thinking of the significant role that she would play in the Clinton administration. The Clintons had/have a great love and respect for Leah and her abilities. Mrs. Clinton would have been appointed her to a special Cabinet position and a special advisor and confidant and now in a few hours, it all vanished.
She went home and stayed in bed for days. I wrote her expressing my approach towards losses and defeats. In my eighty-five years of life sixty-five of those years in ministry and sixty-one years as a pastor, I’ve known bitter defeats and losses. Following is my letter to Leah which contained my reaction to defeat. I shared the letter with the hope that it would be helpful to all who have known great loss, defeat, and failure. Hopefully, the experiences will be utilized in achieving greatly which achievements could not have been done without the lessons learned from the defeats.
What a difference a day makes?
To My Daughter, The Rev. Leah Daughtry
CEO, 2008 2016 Democratic National Convention
History Maker, Miracle Worker
I know you are still hurting and reeling because I know how I feel, and you must feel far worse. I would like to share with you my approach to devastating loss and/or unbearable pain. There are seven attitudes that I strive to adopt:
Face the whole worst of it
I try to look at loss squarely in the eye and grasp the depth, length, and width of the loss. Dr. William James, the noted American psychologist said, “Acceptance is the first step in overcoming the consequences of any misfortune.”
Feel the hurt
I allow myself to hurt, cry, sob, and feel disappointment. I don’t want to be immediately comforted until I say I have had enough. There is no time limit. I take as much time as I want- although not too long. Feeling hurt can become a way of life. Thus, what God intended for momentary survival, we can turn it into a permanent escape and a plea for sympathy.
Learning and Applying the priceless lesson of the experience
I try to learn and apply the lessons of the experience so that I might be better and serve more effectively. There are lessons that only pain, hurt, and loss can teach us. For me, I learned a long, long time ago that there is comfort, joy, peace, excitement, fulfillment, and all the wonderful things of life in being a student of life. I practice being a student, ever disposed towards learning. There are five areas of major realities that I study:
I am a student of myself.
I am a student of life. I am a student of this marvelous, magnificent, mysterious, and miraculous being that God has created. I am in perpetual oar, gratitude, wonder, and euphoria when I contemplate who I am and what I’ve been called to do.
I am a student of my neighbor.
In so many ways we are all the same. In so many ways, we are all different. Thank God! A few things are more fascinating and provide material for study other than human beings. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Everybody I meet is my superior in some things, therefore I learn from them.”
I am a student of the human world - the events and issues of war, peace, events, their nations, beings, and activities.
I am a student of the natural world.
I am curious about everything that Mother Nature creates and protects. After all, she is in charge of God’s earth.
I am a student of personal events.
I bring every personal event again, especially those that cause me great hurt, pain, and disappointment into a kind of laboratory to be studied. Everything that happens to me especially losses and defeats, is brought into the laboratory to be dissected. I confess the years have taught me that I am really ignorant as to what is good and what is bad, meaning, of course, events. Things I thought were bad turned out to be good. Things I thought were good turned out to be bad. Thank God that God saved me from the consequences.
Again, dealing with my attitude toward pain and loss, I try to think of and act on behalf of others. Here is the greatest and most difficult challenge of all- its of life itself. Yet, it is the one thing that brings the greatest comfort, release, peace, and fulfillment- in a word it brings the greatest blessing. It is what I told the many mothers whose children were killed by police or community violence. I tried to get them to think about other mothers, and to act in some way to prevent other mothers from suffering the same pain. The mothers who heed my counsel find the greatest release and comfort.
Remember we called Jesus a “wounded healer”. He endured unimaginable suffering yet, he was the ultimate healer. I call you Leah and others “superstars” because you and others have been able to perform and do your job with a high degree of excellence even while all of you were in pain, hurting, or disappointed. You know, what makes a superstar is not only because they can perform hurt, while others' incomparable positions falter. It’s because superstars think of others. I got this idea from watching the football players. Those who could perform hurt were superstars while others have a low tolerance for pain. The football superstars play hurt because they believe their team is depending on them, their family is depending on them, the fans are depending on them, and the owners are depending on them. They dig down deep so much strength and tolerance from within themselves and do their jobs. When you’re in pain think of others! Everyone can be generous, loving, and outgoing when things are going well for them. It’s another thing to be generous and helpful when things are going bad. I noticed that even in Hillary’s statement she had concern for others- for her family, staff, supporters, etc.
Be a superstar! In a real sense, I don’t need to tell you that. You have been a superstar. Even down to the last, you have always thought of others. I have been a beneficiary of your generous, thoughtful spirit. At the Javits Center, you worry about and made preparations for the family. “Where is Dan-Dan? Did I have extra tickets?” Once inside you were concerned about the comfort of everyone, especially sending someone into the crowded place to bring me to where you were sitting comfortably in a suite.
Lean on Faith
My fifth attitude is to lean on my faith, to believe in my experience and Scripture. What I have learned from my experience is that God has brought me through hard times and difficult seasons. I have been made better because of all of it. In a word, God didn’t bring me this far to leave me or see me fail (and I’ve come through many dangers toils, and snares…) Secondly, and equally important, perhaps more so, I trust the Scripture. I trust it, and my mother trusted it. In Romans 8:28 it says, “For we know that in all things, God works for good to them that love him and to them that are the called according to His purpose.”
An Attitude of Gratitude
The Bible says in all things give thanks, give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you. The Bible has not said that we should understand everything or know everything but we should give thanks. We believe that God is working for the good in everything. Remember Job said, “when I am tired I will come forth as gold”. So be grateful for all things.
If, at all, find some humor- something to laugh about. Get a video or DVD or watch your favorite comedian. Remember the last joke that made you laugh? In the severest crisis, somewhere there is humor. The Bible says a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. There is healing in laughter, there is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing in laughter.
So these are the seven attitudes that I bring to defeat and loss and failure. As I have studied them in the lives of others and as I have applied them in my own life I guarantee they will help you to overcome every situation and make you a better person accomplishing greater heights.
To be continued...