Popular culture and social media has made failure into a status symbol, but usually presents failing as an egalitarian stepping stone to entail success. Almost like a rite of passage.
David Zahl points out that this cultural tendency to gloss over failure as a stepping stone to success short-changes the suffering of those who fail, and whose failures cannot be stepped from quickly or easily.
The notion that failure is not failure but the first step toward its opposite may be absurd, but it is also suitably and undeniably cult-like. Ironically, such silver-lining-itis buffers us from the very suffering we are theoretically venerating.
Honest failure, on the other hand, hurts. It is painful. It is out of our control. And there’s nothing we like less than that.
Obviously some failures do lead to success. Some dead-ends do herald new beginnings. This is especially true in relationships. But some do not. A biblical truism captures this dynamic: you cannot pole-vault over Good Friday to get to Easter. A death must truly be a death before there can be new life. Christ was not hanging from the cross checking his watch — “another few hours of this and then it’s smooth sailing.” He really suffered and really died. He experienced true separation from God. What happened thereafter was unexpected.
Which is to say, failure in the service of success is not actually failure.
David Zahl, Seculosity, Fortress Press, 2019, pg. 37.