During a recent men’s bible study session, a friend shared a statement that resonated with me:

For me … it’s important to remember that there was darkness before the light came through.”

It was profound and impactful, especially when I consider the many ways it applies to my life.

Falling Short with High School Award

During my senior year at Montezuma High School in Southwest Kansas, I remember an award that was given to one female and one male student who performed well both academically and athletically.

As it turns out, I did well in both football and basketball, and was even recognized at the state level for our division. We were such a small school that we played 8-man football, and earning attention was not as difficult as it is in major cities where the competition is fierce.

The scholarly aspect was a different story. While I maintained a strong GPA in high school, I became distracted a bit during the last semester, and already had one foot out the door, thinking about college.

The Scholar Athlete Award selection team observed my lack of interest in academics, and the award was given to another student. I still remember sitting in the band room where the event took place. I thought the award would be granted to me, and it was devasting when the announcement was made.

After the event, I took a long walk by myself, thinking about the embarrassment. The future looked dark and gloomy.

The Light Appeared

It took several weeks for me to get over the rejection. At first, I was angry and upset, and even blamed the selection committee.

Things changed in a positive way when I finally took responsibility for the failure. I told myself there would be other times I would fail in the future, but I would never again give people a reason to pass me up for something that mattered to me.

Today, when I take on work or engage in a personal initiative, I do everything possible to exceed expectations. I know failure will happen, but it’s much easier to accept it when I know the decision was based on factors that were likely out of my control.

The Message

We all will experience dark times, and some of them will be tough to endure, such as the following:

  • Being told our services are no longer needed in a job that is important to us.
  • Failing to maintain a GPA required to renew a university scholarship.
  • Receiving notification that the article we wrote for publication was not accepted.
  • Informed that a new project team was formed without being part of it.

It’s important to know that the more we compete, the more chances there is to fall short. In essence, it’s like a game in that there are winners and losers.

The big difference, however, is that life is different from a game where the score is tallied when the final horn sounds.

In life, we have the chance to re-start the game at any time. Failure simply teaches one way or approach we should avoid in the future. When we remember the darkness, we take action to move away from it. The beauty is these tough lessons become part of our mental library, which means we can expect more successes in the future.