Author: Dr. Leena Johns
Publish Date: Jan 11, 2011
Ok, so it was a fake- the video that emerged of President Obama kicking down a door immediately following a Press Conference. For all those who have seen the video that went viral on ( facebook / youtube), and like me, believed it…n..n..n..Not. Ok, I did. I shall admit to my naivety here (after all, it isn’t that easy to entirely forget all the Antichrist theories and any suspect behavior – real or imagined is viewed with raised brows by over active minds like, yours truly! Well, anyway the truth of the matter is that The Obama door kick video was enacted using an actor that looks remarkably like the US President, but the story began to be reported outside the US as though it's real.
Though the video in itself was fake, the sentiment was very much real: It isn’t farfetched a notion to suggest here that President Obama has been humbled especially with him coining his own defeat as a – “shellacking” during a post election press conference. With the Republicans enjoying significant victories wresting control of the House of Representatives from the Democrats and picking up six seats in the Senate, it seems that frustration over the economy has well and truly driven voter sentiments. Now a potential revolt within Congress looks imminent.
I for one, wouldn’t have been entirely surprised if he had indeed kicked in the door because he now not only has to grapple with an emboldened and empowered political enemy with its sights set on undoing much of what he accomplished in the last two years – including an effort to repeal his signature achievement, health care reforms but also, that the United States finds itself noticeably weaker in international affairs than it was when President Obama took office, with no signs of improvement in the year ahead.
The swagger and the almost gallant confidence that he had when he took the reins of power to the most powerful Office in the world- driven by his two most attractive characteristics – his own brand of personal charisma and that he was not George W Bush could well dissolve in a door kicking fiasco as his naïve school boy enthusiastic approach saw him making lofty promises, rather than delivering prudent politics.
President Obama's first-week pledge to close the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay within a year was a victory of symbolism over substance that proved to be more difficult to implement than he expected. Soon other failures followed. Efforts to regionalize a peace process in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India foundered on the rocks of entrenched national interests. The president announced a "stronger and smarter" strategy for Afghanistan in March, and another in November that contained a deadline which was not quite a deadline, for a pullout that was not really a pullout.
President Obama's unprecedented, fawning outreach to the Muslim world has produced no tangible results, no dramatic shifts in public opinion regarding U.S. policies, and certainly no reduction of the terror threat.
President Obama's outreached hand failed to uncurl Tehran's fist; The Israeli-Palestinian peace process stalled due to a combination of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's grit and a divided, ineffective Palestinian leadership. There was only an enhanced the sense of American confusion and impotence.
The Obama administration flip-flopped in dealing with the presidential crisis in Honduras, unwisely rushing to side with Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua in calling for return of failed dictator Manuel Zelaya. Then, months later, the United States supported the results of the Honduran elections. Result: More confusion, less confidence and above all, an overwhelming sense of failure. One after the other…
So is this article- a memoir of President Obama’s so far struggling leadership; a dairy entry of a frustrated Democrat or a Republican’s rally cry? No. It’s none of the above. It was written with the hope of driving home the point to my fellow Christians that failure is not an exclusive domain for some unfortunate few but it can strike even the most charismatic of us with consequences that sees the results paraded like dirty laundry out in full public view, only to be castigated, vituperated and even humiliated.
Not unlike what President Abraham Lincoln had gone through many times in his life. Often considered as one of the greatest leaders, Abe Lincoln continued to challenge his failures and burn on long after, what for some others would have been a conclusive douse. A failure in the many business ventures that he set out to establish, a private life marred by heart wrenching tragedies (his fiancé died, but when he eventually married, his wife turned out to be a mentally depressed and sickly woman) and attempts at public office that saw him being defeated time and again. His quest for a seat in the Legislature failed more than once and he was defeated twice for the senate and for Vice President. That would have been enough setbacks and failures for the lot of us not only to abandon a life in politics but even living!
Oftentimes, the world around us finds some morbid fascination in pinning our failures as God’s retribution to some sin that we have committed.
Although failures, as a consequence of our sins does happen- remember how David was insurrected for his sin with Bathsheba and God sent Nathan to David to confront David with his sin. “Behold I will raise up evil against you from your own household.” Is what Nathan proclaimed to the King and from that moment on, David faced constant insurrections in his home with his sons and with his wives.
Or how Abraham had to bear the consequences of lying to the King about Sarah or Moses who disobeyed God- Not all failures are the result of sin. It’s kind of like the theory that a butterfly flaps its wings in Thailand and a tornado blows up in Kansas. If you try hard enough, you can create a chain of evidence that links the two events, but you would have had no control over either event and couldn’t have known about the relation between the two until after the event.
Perhaps the hardest failures to deal with are those that are caused by other people. It feels so unfair, so unjust and it’s infuriating.
What if your business failed because your partner cheated on you and ran away with all the money? What if your marriage failed because your husband took off with another woman? How are we to deal with these kinds of failures? This is when we have to learn the art of swallowing a sharp edged sword when we have already been stabbed in the very core of our being – that panacea to our eventual recovery and rehabilitation – the art called forgiveness. At some stage we need to let the feelings of hurt and betrayal and the weakness we feel inside of being the victim go and release the person we hold responsible for our failures at least after the initial feelings of betrayal hurt and anger have settled down .
Learning to forgive is the only cure for bitterness and resentment. Ofcourse it is hard but it is important in dealing with failures caused by others. If we don’t deal with the issue of forgiveness, we end up with more failure caused by our anger. Paul teaches us, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” (Ephesians 4:31 KJV) David says, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret, it leads only to evildoing” (Psalm 37:8 NAS) We would have no eternal life without the forgiving grace of God.
Oftentimes, we continue to burn with feelings of resentment and disappointment because we just don’t see the situation as God sees it. Failures are often God’s way of telling us that we have alighted in the wrong station – the wrong platform and our eventual destination is not where we have hoped or chosen to pitch our tents. It’s His way of telling us that he has much better in store for us if only we have the perseverance and patience to have Him take us to that eventuality. Failures then become the forerunners to success and happiness and on hindsight we can thank God for that failed relationship or the job that we did not land, because God had something far better in store for us.
This is a good time for me to bring the topic of a colleague Roshan who worked in our IT department. He had requested his manager for an increment in his salary by 500 Dirhams. He had recently married and felt that this small pay rise would augment him well, till his wife found a suitable job. However his request was turned down. Months later, struggling with the responsibilities that come with marriage and rising demands at the workplace which were not compensated sufficiently, Roshan quit his job for another that offered him a better salary more commensurate with his experience and skills. Although the new place was a relatively unknown and small organization compared to the big multinational conglomerate that he was working for – Roshan decided to take up the offer as money was the key driver. He completed his one month notice period and handed over his portfolio to the new guy who was employed in his stead and then took a two week’s vacation prior to joining his new Company. But during this 2 week period, there were some serious financial issues and misappropriations that came to light in his new place of job and a freeze on all new hiring was placed. Roshan wrote desperately to our hiring managers and to his manager but regrettably as they had already hired someone in his place, they could not take him back till another vacancy arose in the department. A dejected and disappointed Roshan left Dubai to India when his visa expired, less than 2 weeks later. He struggled for a few weeks and eventually joined an upcoming IT firm in India. He went on to become the Head of IT operations for that Company heading their US operations! His destiny was set in motion by a series of early failures!
When we evaluate failures in our lives, it’s important to also look at our measuring stick. Perhaps our idea of success is askew. We live in a culture that measures success with the square feet of our house, the car we drive and the branded clothes we can afford. This is not the measure that God uses when He evaluates our success. "Riches and honor are with me, Enduring wealth and righteousness”, "My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, And my yield than choicest silver.” (Proverbs 8:18-19 NAS) Look again at your life and reevaluate what you call failure; it may be that you’re using the wrong measuring stick.
It is in our human nature to go over and over and over our failures. To a point this is good, we find things we could have done better or differently and learn from these things. When it gets to the point where the replays are hindering forward movement, that’s when it’s time to quit. God wants us to keep moving forward. “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 KJV) Another important factor that robs us of success is having an an unteachable spirit. An unteachable spirit is an unwillingness to change. Imagine a surgeon who is unfamiliar with the latest in medical technology in his field! The most successful businesses are those which adapt to new policies, produce new products and keep informed. Growing means a flexibility to change.
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6).
"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning" (Proverbs 1:5).
"If thou criest after knowledge...if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God" (Proverbs 2:3-5).
Dare to embrace change. Finally, recognize reasons for any failure. It is crucial that you locate the "bottleneck" in your lives and activate the success and happiness that belongs to you. To accept failure as something that is final is to finally fail. To summarize, failures happen in our lives essentially for 3 main reasons: One, as a direct consequence of our sins (examples, Moses, Abraham, David- who were acutely made aware of their failures as being a consequence of their sins), Two: For the glorification of the Lord. John chp 9:1 (the disciples distinctly query of God if the man blind from his birth was because he sinned or his parents. And Jesus answered them saying “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. One similar lines, The death of Lazarus was to increase the faith of his disciples) And Three: As a fore runner for our eventual success as He has far better things in store for us.
It’s okay to get angry when confronted with failures. Jesus got angry with the moneychangers in the temple. Paul taught, “Be ye angry, and sin not:” (Ephesians 4:26a). When does anger turn from righteous to sin? That’s a judgment call but it turns quickly. When feelings of bitterness, resentment and desires for revenge start cropping up, it’s certain that the time has come to let go of the anger. In short, anger on a short leash, with an expiry date and time is good to expel the build up of negative energies. Anger that ferments thoughts of revenge and resentment is not. This brings me back to the subject of President Obama. It would perhaps, have not been that bad after all then, if President Obama had indeed kicked down that door. It would have perhaps brought some modicum of clarity to the current muddled state of affairs!