Failing Forward


Failure: it’s the F word we all dread. From a young age we’ve been groomed to avoid failure at

all costs. Understanding that failure equals disappointment. But what if I told you that failure is

just a part of life, unavoidable and unpredictable. In fact, C.S. Lewis said, “Failures, repeated

failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” 


That was my high school yearbook quote. I can't remember exactly why I picked it, but I do

know every time I read it gave me a sense of comfort around failure.


Failure isn't really a celebrated milestone, but maybe it should be. Failure redirects. Failure

refines. Failure humbles. Whether that’s a failure in school, in a career, or in a relationship,

sometimes it’s time to close the chapter on that experience, and move on to a new page.

It also helps to remember that you aren’t alone. The devil is really good at making us feel like

we’re all alone in our struggle and no one can understand what we’re going through. Then we

isolate ourselves which only makes things worse. This week I asked friends on social media to

share with me big things they failed at, and the responses were overwhelming. Here are just a

few of their answers:


“Due to not taking care of my mental health, I failed multiple courses in undergrad.”


“Residency. Fell into depression for a couple of months, didn’t know what I wanted anymore.”


“Failed my entire first semester in college.”


“Medical school. Didn’t pass my boards and now rerouting.”


“Failed licensing exam. Felt discouraged.”


“College. Had to repeat a class and switched my major because it was too stressful.” 


“I quit law school and went to social work school.”


“Failed at college, didn’t want to tell anyone because all my friends were excelling while I wasn’t.”


“Switched from an engineering major, made me extremely anxious.” 


“Called off engagement because he was verbally abusive. Now my parents don’t trust my decisions” 


“Broke up with my fiance because I realized we weren’t compatible. Now I’m having a

hard time with other relationships.”


“Ended a long term relationship and had to explain to everyone why.” 


There were many more similar and longer ones, but I think you can see the trend here. The

responses that really got to me were the ones about how people had to explain their failure to

others, enduring the disappointment, and even being labeled the black sheep of the family or

community. If we can all agree that failure is a part of life, a part that we are supposed to learn

from and move on, then why have we made it such a stigma? To the point of labeling others as “failures.” 


The only time I would consider anything a failure, is if we fail and we just stay there wallowing

in self-pity. The key is to move forward, to fail forward, to try something new, and not stay

stagnant. 


But that’s not the case in all these responses, I personally know many of them and I’ve seen

how God has blessed their lives and how successful they’ve become. Some are still in the

process of moving forward, but they’re not giving up. Others have messaged me to tell me how

this failure was instrumental in their life. So much can be learned from every single thing we fail at! 


Next time you're feeling down about a certain failure, no matter how big or how small,

remember that you're now one step closer to the path of success you’re supposed to be on.

Remember that there is Someone who already holds your future, who knew you before you

were fashioned in your mother's womb. Trust in Him, and lean on Him to redirect your steps.

Read this verse over and over again until it becomes engraved in your mind:


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,


And lean not on your own understanding;


In all your ways acknowledge Him,


And He shall direct your paths.”