Who Defines Failure

by Jennifer DePriest

“Failure is not an option” … as the handwritten note fell out of my book, it stung worse than a horsefly from my backyard. I have learned that I cannot save the world, or at least turn frogs into knights in shining armor. I feel like I am sitting in my boat in the middle of the ocean called life, off the beach called uncertainty, looking to the heavens asking Him to show me what the mix-matched puzzle pieces of my life are supposed to mean. What am I missing?

The funny thing about sitting in a boat in the middle of an ocean, or a home in the middle of a pandemic, alone … is the stillness. It lets you look “failure” square in the face. It isn’t necessarily that you redefine it and put band aids on the wounds. It’s just that ever so gently He has the time now, in the stillness of the journey, to lean down from heaven and show me how nothing is wasted. The definition of failure can be as different as the waterways that are the veins of this planet, and we have to be careful who we let define that for us. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves who we are, instead of paying too close attention to those who really don’t matter to begin with.

I am a child of God.

I am a survivor.

I am a compassionate, creative.

I am who God created me to be.

I think we need to get alone in our boat in the middle of our own ocean and let ourselves off the hooks we have allowed others to put us on. In time, He will allow the winds of change to guide us to the shore. Life has taught me if I try to turn my little pirogue boat meant to glide slowly down the bayous of Louisiana into a craft meant to explore the Gulf of Mexico, I will not reach the shore that He wants me to any faster. Instead of alligators, I may encounter sharks. Instead of a springtime thunderstorm, I could end up in the middle of a hurricane. Life events, which to others may seem like failures, may have been His way of slowing me down … protecting me, leading me back to my little pirogue boat, away from the ocean, and down destiny’s bayou. Maybe the shore I had pictured in my mind, with blue waters and white beaches and exotic locations was, instead, supposed to be lined with Magnolias that are starting to bloom, Oak trees decorated with Spanish moss, and lightning bugs to light the nighttime sky.

Maybe my ability to conduct research was meant for me to help give others hope, by substantiating my message. Maybe what some people considered my failures were actually adventures, meant for me to draw a treasure map to help lead others away from danger and instead to Him. This time has taught me that it is okay to turn back from the open seas. Alone in my little pirogue boat, traveling down destiny’s bayou is, after all, much safer than a Disney Cruise these days. Now, instead of straining to see distant shores, I can enjoy the sights and sounds of my surroundings, while life’s rhythm serenades me. I can let His winds guide my journey, until He brings my little pirogue boat to the shore of His choosing.

Failure was not an option after all, but just an X on a treasure map I have now left behind. The pirates no longer scare me. Their maps were not my map. Their treasure was not mine. I realize I was trying to reach destinations that He never intended me to reach. The adventure fuels my soul. What’s around the bend? What will His destination for me look like? Will my words leave messages in bottles along the way, giving comfort to those who are lost and afraid?

“You are not a failure, but a precious gift from God. You are on an adventure called life. I know it is scary and it seems unfair at times, but I also know it will be so worth it when you get to the other side.”

Will my map, tear-stained and torn in spots, lead others to treasures and much calmer waters? When He finally brings me ashore where I will stake my claim to this new found place. I will dance for joy and send up flares, helping to light the way for those behind me. Yes, failure was not an option, just a little added spice to mix into my gumbo, and pour over some white rice. I can’t wait to share this seasoning, with my friends as they arrive, yes, failure was not an option, it only made me thrive.




To learn more about Jennifer DePriest, visit her blog at She welcomes email at

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