Failure is the prelude to success

She stands in the doorway of my house, a sight I rarely see. My mom is so cute, standing there, with her hair tied up in a messy bun, comfy jeans and a sweater. I think she just gets cuter as she gets older.

"I like your shoes," I tell her, as her face lights up with a mix of joy and surprise. It always does that when I tell her she looks pretty – I think she truly is surprised, and I'm always surprised at how surprised she is. 

"So I have to tell you about these shoes, it's kind of a funny story," she says, with a slight giggle. "When I was in college, my roommate had these shoes called Mary Janes. And I loved them – I wanted them so badly. So my mom and I went all over town trying to find them in my size. This was before online shopping or Amazon or anything like that was around."

My mouth drops open. What. I'm reminded - yes, there was a time when the internet didn't exist. And yes, it wasn't that long ago.

My mom continues, "I couldn't find them anywhere, so I never did get them. Until, a couple of months ago, I was passing a store, and I saw them – these shoes that looked like those Mary Janes that I wanted when I was 22. I'm 56 years old, and I finally got my Mary Janes."

Have you ever wanted something so badly, it was hard to think about anything else?

I have.

Do you know the disappointment of it not working out? Feeling like you're going to store after store – leaving disappointed each time?

I do. 

Timing is an incredible thing – and so often, we can't quite see why certain things work out and certain things don't.

I'm not sure why my mom didn't get those Mary Janes when she was 22. I think God could of easily intervened and magically made an extra size 6 appear.

But I do know… that God loves her very much. And that He never forgot that she wanted them. And that for 34 years, he remembered.

So maybe you don't have your Mary Janes yet. 

But don't give up hope. 

Kelsey and I have been working on By Grace for two years, and dreaming about it since eighth grade. Sitting there, hearing our name announced first place, it was indescribable (we can't wait to share more details on our next blog!). It was the first time we felt that our dream, it's actually coming true. All of our hard work - it was worth it. 

I remember the first time I saw our team number. Team number "73." I tried not to let discouragement wash over me.

"It's ok," I said to Kelsey on the phone. "God just wants to stack the odds so that he can show off."

I remember the morning I saw a flyer, advertising the competition, at Crow's coffee shop. It was staring at me - reminding me, that I was one of many. That I was just a stupid girl, filled with embarrassing ideas but nothing that would ever amount to anything. "You're not special," the flyer taunted me. "Who are you to go up against tech companies and venture capitalists?"

We haven't always gotten first place. In fact, we've been dead close to last a couple of times. But we didn't give up. We believed in our mission. And we got better and sharper and clearer in our purpose, our product and our company.

"Hey mom," I said. "Why do you think God didn't give you those Mary Janes at 22?"

She paused for a second. "You know, if I had gotten them at 22, they would probably be in a dumpster somewhere by now. I would have enjoyed them for five years and then thrown them away. And - they wouldn't have been as nice of quality as the ones I have now."

"If you had told me at 22," she continued, "that I would have to wait until 56 to get my Mary Janes, I would have laughed and told you that was crazy. But, I hate to say it - it was worth the wait."

"The longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful in our expectancy." Romans 8:25

The best piece of advice Kelsey and I ever got was from a businessman in Ghana. This man owned 20+ businesses throughout the region, and as he sat down with us, he said - that through all his ventures, and all his accolades, he had learned this one thing - failure is the prelude to success. 

If you feel like you've failed - or maybe, you just feel like you're in the waiting room - that's a sign that you are right where you need to be. Don't give up.