When failures bite us

WE HAVE to be ready for this possibility. Failures can come to us anytime and in all forms in spite of our good intentions and best efforts. Some of them can already be suspected. But there are others that can come as a complete surprise.

In any event, we should try our best not to over-react to them, such that we fall into anger and bitterness, on the one hand, or into self-pity, sadness and depression, on the other.

Failures can be and should be treated as a blessing. That is, if we consider them from the point of Christ, if we suffer them with Christ, who also ‘failed’ big time by dying on the cross. Let’s remember that Christ has redeemed all our possible failures with his resurrection. There is no failure that cannot be taken advantage of for our sanctification and redemption as long as we suffer it with Christ.

The other day, I felt a deep sense of failure when all of sudden I heard that a student in our school died. He was a working student, an orphan who had to take care of two younger siblings. He worked hard. He never complained about anything. He was just quiet doing all sorts of things, cleaning the toilets, the windows, etc.

I knew that he led a very heroic life. He had to wake up very early to prepare things for his brothers and then come to school. He had to walk a lot to reach school. And he arrived very late at home every night because he had to do his jobs in school.

Later on, I learned that he was suffering from some pains in the head and the body. A neighbor who knew more about him at home told us that. I found it amazing because everytime I saw him, he always looked good — at least, he gave no sign he was suffering from something.

This is where I felt I failed miserably. I felt I did not pay enough attention to him. I felt like I treated him simply as a working student, and not as a person in his concrete condition as orphan and all that. In fact, I felt that I have exploited him, since he was so docile and simple, very easy to ask to run errands for me.

Anyway, I already made my contrition and apologies for this failure. But, yes, this incident taught me a lesson to be more caring and more discerning of people’s conditions. I should not just be contented with how they look. I need to go beyond their looks.

This incident reminds me of my late mother who, contrary to what I tend to be, was always caring with people in some miserable conditions. In fact, our house became a favorite destination for beggars. And at that time, I was not happy with that condition. But my mother welcomed them and spent time with them.

My mother gave them whatever she had, which was not really much. But she gave it with such tenderness that beggars loved her so much. In fact, in her funeral, the beggars were also there and they were the ones who cried the loudest.

I believe it is not too late to learn how to be more caring and discerning of people, especially those in some difficult situation. This means that we should try to get to know more and more about the persons who are just around us. They may just be janitors and laundrywomen, but I believe we have to know the concrete situation of their personal, family and social lives.

Little things like knowing their birthdays and anniversaries, and greeting them on those days special to them, can go a long way in knowing them well. They also need a lot of affection, and to be talked to and be listened to, even about trivial matters. They have to be treated as equals./PN


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