“If at first you don’t succeed … try, try again.”
Or so we like to say. But do we really believe that? Are we capable of looking past multiple failures? It works in hindsight, when you already know a person has become successful. But if you’re watching the failures unfold before your eyes, it’s hard not to think, “enough already.”
There’s the girl who keeps dating abusive boyfriends, or the crappy band that just won’t call it quits. And our timelines and News Feeds are all filled with bloggers who border on spammers, hoping to strike internet gold with questionable content. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you shake your head, because in most real-life cases, we’re not very supportive of repeat failure.
Not in others, and not in ourselves.
Which is all the more reason a lot of times I’m feeling a bit discouraged these days.
A little over 3 years ago I got my third DUI. I used to have a drinking problem. I spent a lot of money on my alcoholism, both on the alcohol and the legal fees. After the first one, I had learned my lesson. But you know what? Not long after, it happened again. You would think I would’ve wised up. I struggled to fight off my addiction. A few short years later I got another DUI, and this time I was facing prison. Three DUI’s in Oklahoma is a felony.
I swear, I learned my lesson the first time. Only apparently, I didn’t. And it’s made me feel pretty low, full of regret and disgust. When you get a second chance, you’re supposed to get it right the next time around. If you dodge a bullet once, you learn to stop getting shot at, right?
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Pretty much everything we learn is enforced by our mistakes. That’s great in math class, but pretty brutal for life lessons. All trauma leaves us slow to learn, and so we end up needing a lot of second chances in real life.
So here’s my point. Failure feels the worst when you forbid yourself from failing. Expecting perfection from something as messy as life is setting yourself up for failure. So instead of replaying mistakes and living with regret, focus on the lessons these mistakes teach us. Let’s focus on things we can change, and learn to see successes along with our failures — in ourselves and others.
I never did serve any jail time. Nor do I have the felony. By God’s grace I was allowed to complete mental health court that took a year to complete. It’s due to God’s grace that I haven’t had a drink since that night of my last DUI. That was over 3 years ago. God’s grace gave me a second chance.