I always notice abandoned shopping malls while I’m driving. You’ve seen them before—giant eyesores that announce the failed dreams of business people and investors. They’re monuments to remind us that sometimes our plans don’t work out the way we want them to.
I drove by one this morning. It was a sprawling strip mall, with boarded-up store fronts, graffiti everywhere, and an enormous, trash-filled parking lot. I try to imagine the conversations that took place on the once vacant land before it was even constructed.
“It’s a prime location. Very promising for the growth of this area. People will come from all over to shop here. It will be great for the local economy and a turning point for our community.”
The investor nods approvingly but still wonders in the back of her mind how this will pan out. No risk, no reward, though. You have to take calculated chances to grow in life, and sometimes they end up as massive failures.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of failure, not just in the sense of setting out to do something and falling short, but in terms of really giving up, whether that’s as simple as quitting your job or as tragic and complicated as giving up on living.
I heard someone once describe Proverbs as wisdom for right living. That same person described Ecclesiastes as where you turn when you did things right, and it still turned out bad. “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Translated literally from the Hebrew, vanity means “mere breath.”
So what’s the point?
When your circumstances exceed your ability to cope. When you realize there are no rules to the game, and nothing is predictable. All is chaos. When you realize the Law of the Harvest doesn’t always prevail. Many reap and never sow. Many sow and never reap.
Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a tweetable answer for you? 140 characters to conquer the problem of pain. A nice quip to solve the world’s brokenness. I’ll leave you with a song I’ve come back to by a guy named David Ramirez,
“Deal me in
Deal me in
This is the life that I choose even if I lose
I'm slowly learning just what it means to love
I don't think I have it down I just know what it's not
It's not leaving you
So question life, question the sky
Don't be okay just letting days pass you by
Find out the truth, Find out what lies
Above the Blue”
Keep participating. Keep choosing to live. Keep searching. Lean into the pain. Truth will find you, in the highs and the lows, the successes and even in the failures. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m still here with you, too.
I don’t say it enough, but I’m grateful for this small community. The comments, text messages, emails, and conversations around these topics gives me life, and I hope it continues to do the same for you. In a few short months it will be three years. It’s hard to believe. Thanks for sticking around.
Books I recommend: