Fate, failure, and faith…


“Failure isn’t falling down. Failure is staying down.”

Timing can be a funny thing when you stop to think about. Why do things happen when they do? Does fate play a role? Do we all have room for a little destiny in our lives? Why is it that sometimes we hear the exact words we need to at the exact moment when we need them the most? I don’t think we’ll ever know the answers to those questions, but what I can say with certainty is that it’s amazing when something like that happens. It’s amazing when somehow, some way, we get a little dash of hope, a little reminder that with faith, determination, and hard work, anything is possible. It’s amazing how timing can work out.

When I went to Kol Nidre services for Yom Kippur this past Sunday night, I couldn’t help but think back in time to when I went to that same service last year. I don’t remember the exact details of last year’s sermon, but what I very clearly remember is that part of it involved a married couple who had known each other when they were younger and found each other again twenty years later. This was just days after I had sent my first round of query letters, and I nearly fell out of my chair when the rabbi began this story. I thought it was the most inspiring coincidence in the world. A sermon that shares a main idea with my novels? And one that I heard two days after sending out my first queries, when I was so incredibly nervous about the whole process and looking for some reassurance so that I could focus on my excitement over my nerves? What in the world was the chance of that? Could the timing have been more perfect? I took it as a sign (once I regained my balance and forced myself not to fall onto the floor – probably not the best thing to do during a service, huh?) and I allowed myself to feel inspired. How could I NOT feel inspired after that? How could it NOT give me faith? With timing that perfect, how could I not feel hopeful?

Fast forward to Kol Nidre services this year. As I sat in synagogue, I couldn’t help but wonder what the rabbi’s sermon would be about this time. I couldn’t help but think back a year in time and reflect on how hopeful last year’s sermon had made me. I knew the chance of having such a strong connection to this year’s one wasn’t probable. After all, what could beat last year’s? What could beat that incredible coincidence? Well, as it turns out, I didn’t need to look any further than something the rabbi said before discussing the Torah portion. Was it a direct parallel to my novels like last year? No. But was it exactly what I needed to hear at this point in time? Yes.

Failure is an awful, awful feeling. It hurts a lot to feel like you’ve let people down. It hurts a lot to feel like you’ve let yourself down. We’ve all hard our fair share of feeling like a failure, and I think everyone will agree that it’s certainly not fun. I’ve definitely had myfair share of feeling that way, as much as I hate to admit it. It’s hard not to feel like a failure sometimes. It’s hard not to feel that way when this dream you have, this dream that you want more than anything and are working so hard to make come true, seems to be stuck in place. But what the rabbi said on Sunday night really struck a chord: “Failure isn’t falling down. Failure is staying down.” Is it okay to fall? Yes. But is it okay to stay down? No. It’s what you do after that fall that makes the difference. It’s okay to let yourself feel the myriad of emotions that come with it. You should, because if you don’t, you’re never going to be able to move beyond it. And that’s just the thing — you have to move beyond it. You have to pick yourself up and try again. You can’t stay down. You have to get back up. You have to keep trying. You have to keep dreaming big and working hard.

That quote is EXACTLY what I needed to hear right now. It is exactly what I needed to inspire me and remind me to have faith that this will work out somehow. It is exactly what I needed to push aside those feelings of failure, stand back up, and start working on query letters with a renewed sense of faith. Not once during this whole process have I ever stopped writing my novels. They’re my happy place, my time when everything else fades away and I can immerse myself in what I love. That’s the time when failure doesn’t matter. Passion is all that matters. And that passion is what reminds me that failure simply isn’t an option. It reminds me that it’s okay to fall down as long as I get back up. So that’s what I did. I got right back up with a renewed sense of faith.

Timing is a funny thing. Timing is a wonderful thing. Two years in a row now, Kol Nidre services have provided me with exactly what I needed at the time. Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement, a day to reflect on the year that has gone by and what you’ll do differently in the year to come. Kol Nidre services on the night of Yom Kippur are filled with inspiring messages, reflections to apply to your own life, family and friends, and the warm glow emanating from the eternal flame on the bimah. It’s a time for faith and belief, and I will forever be grateful to Rabbi Marx for giving me that two years in a row. See, because the thing is – maybe we have to fall. Maybe that fall makes us stronger and more determined. We have to fall so we have a reason to get up and try again. Because as long as we get back up, as long as we keep the faith and the dedication to work as hard as possible to make our dreams come true, we are never a failure. That is what I learned during Yom Kippur this year … and, of course, that my grandmom’s chicken soup makes the fasting more than worth it. Faith, inspiration, fate, and the best chicken soup in the world — what could be better?

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