Last night, my friend Mary Laura Philpott gave me a pep talk. We had both had relatively crappy days. You know the kind. When you realize that you’ve made a mistake, hurt someone’s feelings, or in general, act like a jerk to the people you love most. Needless to say, I’d swung and I missed biggest time. And the ball I hit ended up being a boomerang that came back to hit me in the chest. Shocking? Yes. Surprising? No. I’m a human. I make mistakes all the time. But somehow it still hurts to bear witness to my own weakness.
Mary Laura knows about those kinds of days. In fact, her new book, “I Miss You When I Blink” is a compilation of essays on what it means to learn to love yourself, even when things aren’t perfect. It comes out the same day as Beyond the Point —and you should most definitely get yourself a copy. Hearing my cry for help, Mary Laura pointed me to a recent exchange between comedian Tiffany Haddish and Chrissy Teigen. (*Warning: R-rated language alert.)
Tiffany Haddish bombed at a New Year’s Eve show in Miami. She was performing stand up comedy in front of a packed house. She’d spent the night before drinking. She wasn’t prepared. She couldn’t remember her jokes or the transitions between jokes. The crowd turned on her. One even got up, began filming himself with her in the background, laughing and saying what a bad night she was having.
Chrissy Teigen’s response to Haddish’s honest admission is kindness at its best.
We all bomb.
It makes me cringe, but the truth is, at one point or another, we’ve all been Tiffany Haddish. I have been radically unprepared, standing on the stage of my life, bombing. I’ve done things I’m not proud of. I’d wished I’d been better. My very first novel comes out in four months — there’s a chance that it will hit the shelves, sell a few hundred copies, and then wither and die. That is entirely possible. There is a chance that tomorrow, I will run into a hurting friend, and say the exact wrong thing. And when I do, it will feel terrible.
But you only bomb if you’re trying. I would rather be bombing then not trying. I would rather write the book and see the world hate it than never write the book. I would rather say the wrong thing than say nothing. I would rather eat my words than never speak in the first place. I would rather be the man in the arena than the critic who writes take-down pieces after the fact.
i’m going to keep trying. So the chances are, I’m going to keep bombing. That’s the way it works. Life conspires to make me more acutely aware of my weakness. Thankfully, I serve a God of second, thirteenth, and hundredth chances. I serve a God who does not rate my performance. I serve a God who is madly in love with me, and frees me from the evaluation of the world and liberates me to the lightness of his affection for me. I can bring him my humiliation and shame. He gives me laughter and kindness in its place. He convinces me to try again.