Failed Again, Awesome!

6 03 2016

I couldn’t have been more that 9 or 10 but I still remember the feelings that ran though my Guitars galoremind and even body like a high powered shot of exhilaration; I couldn’t stop smiling. It was old with some nicks and scratches, but I didn’t care; to me it was the most beautiful thing I had ever held–my very first guitar. It was a rental from the music store where I would be taking lessons and with each session mom would pay a few dollars toward it being mine. Not having a car, we had to walk home me carrying my new melody maker as securely as possible to make sure nothing would happen; but I wanted everybody to see me with it. A kinda “Wow, he must be a guitar player, that’s awesome” feeling as we made our way down the street. Arriving home I ran up stairs to practice and then find just the perfect place to display it in my room. I must have stayed awake half the night just staring at it propped up in the corner with me still smiling as if I was with my best friend. Life was awesome!

The lessons I found were harder than I thought they would be and there was a lot of struggle to make my fingers on my left hand press the right strings while my right hand tried to maneuver the right picking pattern. I wasn’t learning very fast, but I just knew sooner or later music would burst forth and I’d be on my way to stardom. That’s how I felt at least until after about the 6th lesson. After we finished he had me leave my guitar in the practice room and led mom and I to his office to talk privately. “It’s best that I’m totally truthful with you,” he started, “But Johnny doesn’t have any musical ability, and it would be a waste of my time and your money to continue on. I won’t charge you for tonight’s lesson and we’ll just call it even on the guitar rental.” We barely made it home when the floodgates on my eyes burst forth and I must have sobbed for an hour. That night I lay awake once more but this time looking into an empty corner where my guitar had been.

This was just one more disappointment in life.  I struggled in school not understanding because of a reading disability. While the other kids in the neighborhood would be riding bikes, I’d just watch because I couldn’t do it. If I went the community pool, I’d have to stay in the shallow end because I couldn’t swim. So it was the same old story with me, too dumb to do anything is how I felt so I might as well not try.

But I had mom who knew all about that; she had a severe hearing loss which made learning nearly impossible when she was young and often she was treated in a lesser manner than others. She wasn’t about to let her son think he was not as good as others. “Your teacher was wrong, Johnny,” she told me when we got home. “He just didn’t find the right way to teach you so he gave up, but I’m not giving up. I know you have musical ability and you will play someday.”

Time went by and I learned sometimes when you take things down to the lowest common denominator changes happen. In school I was made fun of because I couldn’t read, but after a full year sitting at a kitchen table with a wonderful lady who became my tutor, the mystery of letters on paper came forth for me, to where they were now words, stories, understanding. In later life I finished high school and am now a college graduate with honors.

My best friend took me to a vacant lot, got me up on the bike and worked with me an entire day until I could ride the darn thing; the next year I became proficient on a unicycle. I’d go to public pool and watch how people used their arms and legs to move or to stay in one place treading water. After practicing a little more in the shallow end I dove into the deep end one day and swam with all I had to other side, and then back! These years later I have competed in triathlons, where I had to swim in open water then bike and run. Now I know that’s a little blowing of my own horn which I really don’t like doing; but I’m saying to you if I can achieve these heights, just think about what you can do!

Once again I think my man C.S. Lewis says it best, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

For some of us life just doesn’t come easy, there are many disappointments as we “Travel the Rock Road,” some big enough to want to make a person just give up. But you see I just don’t believe God made us that way, to be quitters when things get tough. Truthfully, during the times I have put my trust in my Lord and taken that common denominator down to just me and Him, achievement in this life becomes much closer than it was. That’s not to say I still don’t fail occasionally, it just means there’s something better on the horizon.

Here’s another quote I like: “Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success. For a failure is not a loss. It’s a gain. You learn. You change. You grow.”

God’s word has its own twist on it that goes like this, Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and He will give you success.”

There will be times we will try and we will fail. The question then becomes what do we do with failure; do we let it control us, or do we take control, overcome and succeed? In this man’s thinking as long as we have God on our side we’re already winners!

A couple of years after the setback with the guitar, I took up drums and was blessed with a teacher that wouldn’t give up on me, and I got fairly good if I do say so myself. But still there was this nagging in my soul of something missing, something incomplete. I still had the desire to play guitar even though I could still hear the words that it was a waste of time. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t see anything we commit to Him as a waste of time?

That rack of guitars? Yeah, they’re mine. Oh yeah, I play them all.
See ya next time!


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