Mary Pickford, one of Hollywood’s greatest female stars in the first half of the 20th century, was all too familiar with pain and failures. When she was six, her father, an alcoholic, died; at age 7 she began working in theatre, playing small roles. She ended up being an actress during the silent film era and enjoyed a great success— professionally. Personally, she was not too fortunate.
Her first marriage, characterized by bouts of domestic violence, ended up in divorce. Like her father, her husband was also an alcoholic. Her second marriage with fellow actor Douglas Fairbanks, also ended in divorce. He had an affair. But by the grace of God her third marriage lasted for 42 years, until the day she died in 1979. However, after losing her mother and her two brothers who died from alcohol-related illnesses, she, too, became an alcoholic.
Despite all these pain and failures, she persevered. In her book, Why Not Try God? she shared her philosophy of life that had kept her afloat, “Today is a new day. You will get out of it just what you put into it . . . . If you have made mistakes, even serious mistakes, there is always another chance for you. And supposing you have tried and failed again and again, you may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Wise and proven words of advice!
Both falling down and staying down denote a state or posture where we are down on the ground. The difference is, falling down is purposeless while staying down is purposeful—to avoid dangers or to collect our strength after being knocked down. Failures can knock us down, but while we are down, we can make it purposeful. We can learn from it and by God’s grace, we will be better.