On Struggle and Failure

Here’s my WORLDMag.com post for this week. Ever have one of those posts in which you sort of wish you could just go back and do it again? Yeah, I’m sort of wishing that about this one. I would go in and explain myself to the two people who left comments and misunderstood me completely, but something tells me I’d just be wasting my time.


I forgot to grade my kids’ math assignments all week long last week. Yesterday I sat down to do just that, only to find that one of my girls missed a major concept on Tuesday and then repeated the same mistake twice on two different days the rest of the week. As a result, she failed the test on Friday.

Fortunately for her, I’m not holding her to those grades. It isn’t her fault that she repeated the same mistake; she was never corrected and told what needed to happen, so she kept doing what she had been doing, assuming it was the way it needed to be. I brought her in beside me and redid the first page while she was watching, slowly explaining the concept again. I then watched her as she redid the next page on her own, making sure she understood things this time. I also gave her the opportunity to redo all of those pages this week and retake the test this Friday. We’re both sure she will do much better.

Correction is nobody’s idea of a good time (I know it isn’t mine). Yet what happens when we’re allowed to continue on with our mistakes as though nothing was wrong? What happens if math concepts are missed, piano scales skipped through, and relationship basics ignored?

One word: failure. And often for what reason? Lack of feedback.

Repetition may build habits, but feedback is the breakfast of champions.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful,” Hebrews 12:11 reminds us. “Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

It often isn’t fun being on either end of the correcting process. In my situation, grading math papers takes a fair amount of time—time that I apparently couldn’t fit in last week. But failing to do my part in our homeschooling education equation meant failure for my daughter to be able to do hers.

Sending out a long list of rule reminders to those in the homeschool group I direct was not a fun but necessary thing to do this week because, well everybody had gotten seriously lax.

Sitting at the table last week listening to my husband challenge me (again) about my shocking lack of attention to our family budget was not pleasant for either of us.

But all of it was necessary.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time. It is painful. It is painful to be told you are failing in an area and to know your behavior is causing frustration to another.

But what’s more painful is being allowed to sink further and further into those areas of struggle. There’s no love in that . . . just failure.



2 thoughts on “On Struggle and Failure

  1. nickg says:

    Every time I tell myself I’m not going to read any WorldMag comments any more, I do it again. And what does it get me? Just the urge to slug somebody in the nose.


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