Failure is (not) an option

I love that scene from Apollo 13, and from history, when the NASA chief gives his engineers a nearly impossible task then firmly says, “Failure is NOT an option.” It’s a great sentiment, and a great motivator. It is not, however, the truth.

Especially on the streets.Home at night

Failure is always a human option. It’s the dark side of having free will. I get to choose, even if my choice goes nowhere. Even if I end up failing.

Our friends living outdoors have the same right to chose. Sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I so badly want to help that I try to insist that they succeed. That’s fine when it’s encouraging someone; when it’s part of saying that I really do care about them.

It is not fine when it’s bullying; when I try to pull a person kicking and screaming towards my definition of success.

So I have to remember that my outdoor friends have their own free will. As with any friend I am free to invite them towards something better. I can offer resources and kind reminders and encouraging words.

But I am not the boss of them. I don’t get to force or shame or shove a friend towards the goal.

And in the end this means that failure is an option. I hope for the best. I pray for the best. And in the end my friends make their own choices, one way or the other.

I choose to walk beside my friends. I choose to offer help where I can. And I choose to honor their right to decide.

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