Editor’s note: “The Spoken Word” is shared by Lloyd Newell each Sunday during the weekly Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square broadcast. This is an encore performance of “Music and the Spoken Word” with a new “Spoken Word” selected and recorded while the choir is practicing social distancing. This will be given Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021.
Every life needs aspirations — along with goals to help us achieve them. Our goals can be like the banks of a river, guiding the flow of our ambitions. Making plans and striving to accomplish them helps channel our efforts and energies toward the things that matter most to us.
But what about when we fail? How do we respond when, despite our earnest efforts, we don’t quite reach those high aspirations? In short, how do we deal with disappointment?
The natural response is to feel discouraged, disheartened. It might seem that all our planning and work were wasted. We may even question our aspirations — were our hopes too high? Should we lower our expectations? Should we give up on ourselves or others?
Surely there must be a better way to react to disappointment.
Henry Ford said, “Failure is only the opportunity … to begin again” (see “My Life and Work” by Henry Ford with Samuel Crowther, published in 1923, page 273). Failure is an excellent teacher — as long as we are willing students. Yes, failure brings disappointment, but that disappointment may be just the motivation we need to reevaluate our course and make adjustments.
And then, once we’ve learned from the disappointing past, we turn our eyes cheerfully toward the future. The failures of yesterday need not hold hostage the possibilities of tomorrow. The hope and confidence we felt in the beginning can be the bridge that crosses over the gulf of disappointment and carries us to the bright, happy future we all hope for.
Paul, the early Christian Apostle, had his own disappointing past. For years he had fought against the church he later learned to love. When he realized how misguided he had been, he must have felt deep regret. His disappointment could have led to a fearful retreat into inaction, but instead it inspired a course correction — and a life of faith and service. Paul later said, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize” (see Philippians 3:13–14).
Personal disappointments may slow us down, but they don’t need to stop us. People may disappoint us, but we can patiently love them as they find their way. The riverbed of life is full of obstacles and unexpected turns, but water always finds a way around them. The journey is thrilling, and the destination is divine.
Tuning in …
The “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast is available on KSL-TV, KSL Radio 1160AM/102.7FM, ksl.com, BYU-TV, BYU Radio, Dish and DirectTV, SiriusXM Radio (Ch. 143), the tabernaclechoir.org, youtube.com/TheTabernacleChoiratTempleSquare and Amazon Alexa (must enable skill). The program is aired live on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on many of these outlets. Look up broadcast information by state and city at musicandthespokenword.org/schedules.