“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” ~Mary Tyler Moore
I have learned about the beauty, power, and bravery of failure from my daughters and their theater friends.
Both of my girls are actresses. As part of their college application process, in addition to the usual requirements, they were also expected to perform an audition in front of a panel of theater department professors. During the busy senior year crush of preparing resumes, writing essays, studying for standardized tests, and gathering teacher recommendations, my daughters were also researching, memorizing, and practicing multiple monologues in preparation for our trips to each university for the audition process. Of course, every school expected a different length or type of monologue!
Theatre kids are tough. The very nature of the audition and casting process guarantees a firsthand familiarity with failure. For every yes in the business of acting, there are multiple no’s. At my daughters’ high school, it was routine for seventy-five or eighty students to show up to audition for a play with only twenty-five parts. In college, the odds have often been even more daunting. If success is narrowly defined as getting a part in the play, then the majority of students failed.
Yet these young people keep showing up. When they don’t get cast, many sign up to be part of the production crew and engage in the creative process in other ways. They listen, learn, and lean on the expertise of the directors and the older students and they prepare differently for the next audition. They conduct themselves with grace and compassion when they finally make the cast list, because they remember their disappointment and tears when the cast list was posted last time.
Since my daughters left for college, I have been trying to follow their brave example by taking risks, trying new things, and putting myself in situations where I might feel awkward and uncomfortable. Being a beginner and re-creating my life in my fifties feels equal parts terrifying and exhilarating, yet the unfolding adventure is worth any cost. In spite of falling flat on my face a few times, God has been faithfully uncovering the part he wants me to play in his kingdom as I lean in and listen to the combination of his voice and my passions.
God says we are brave and promises to be with us always. God has a plan for each of our lives and a role for us to play in bringing about the kingdom Jesus promised. Stepping out of our comfort zones and showing up intentionally in the world will sometimes be awkward, embarrassing, or even painful. We will likely fail a few times as we try new things, make adjustments, and begin again. Yet God is faithful, and he is creating a masterpiece with each of our lives.
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