Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23 (NIV)
When I was in college, I joined a volunteer group called Collegiate Educational Service Corps. I joined spring term of my freshman year when I realized that there was much more to college than stressing over grades. I wanted to do something worthwhile so began mentoring a group of middle school girls. An incentive to volunteering was the use of a university owned car to drive to the middle school where I met with “my” four girls during school. The girls were potential drop outs, sometimes trouble makers, but all from poor, rural homes. They were chosen because they all hated each other and part of my responsibility in addition to inspiring them to make better choices was to build a bond across races and backgrounds. I quickly became attached to the girls and in our school visits as well as “field trips” I did feel like I was making a difference. What fun to introduce them to shopping malls, escalators, movie theaters and restaurants! No, this was not in the 1950s, but in the late 1970s in a small town in South Carolina. I was able to volunteer and still keep my 4.0 average that no one but myself expected me to maintain. Then, I was asked to head a large campus event that would require a year of planning and hundreds of volunteers. Taking an interest in four girls once a week was one thing, but how could I keep up with my studies and take on such a task? I was actually angry rather than proud that I had been asked and spent some time stewing over my answer. Finally, I went to one of my professors who I respected and asked her advice. I told her that I was afraid that if I took on this role, I might not have time to do my class work and could fail a course. She asked me some questions, “What is the worst thing that could happen if you take this on? What would happen if you did fail?” She continued, “Would your parents love you less? Would your professors respect you less? Would anyone die? Would the world come to an end?” At the time, making less than all As did seem like the world might end, but with her guidance, I came to see that I had nothing to lose by taking on the challenge. In fact, the rewards of trying and succeeding were far greater than the impact of failure. I have remembered her advice for many years. Whenever I am faced with a decision, I think, “What is the worst that could happen?” If the answer is failure, I remember failure is not something to fear. I can learn from failure, become stronger from failure. And those who really love me will always love me despite my failings. Thankfully, the One whose love matters most, never fails, nor does His love for me. That was a far greater lesson than any A could produce!