published Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Roberts: Success is using our thimble

by Dalton Roberts

I am happy that J. Todd Foster is going to be the head person at our newspaper. I read an article he wrote in which he tuned up a lady with a severe stereotype about the South.

Naturally I wish him success and the fact that he is a stereotype buster inclines me to think he will be. But today I wish to bust the stereotype that we can always assure success in our lives. In order to really soar in life, failure has to be OK.

How can we say failure must be OK when we say faith moves mountains? Well, we don’t say, faith always moves mountains the first time. Thomas Edison had faith he could make a light bulb that worked, but it took hundreds of experiments to do it.

We do not say, “Faith moves every mountain,” because we have enough sense to know some mountains are not supposed to be moved. If you moved Lookout Mountain, you would destroy the Incline, Point Park, the Civil War monuments and thousands of homes. Proving you have faith is not that important.

Once a lady who had been told she was terminally ill called me to her bedside and said, “The Lord told me if you would pray for me I would be healed.” I was just a scared young boy, but I did as she asked and no one was more surprised than I when she leaped out of bed and ran around the house. I was even more surprised the next Sunday when she was shining all over the place at church. To my amazement, she lived many more years.

Hearing of this marvelous occurrence, someone asked me to go and pray for a baby with leukemia. I held that beautiful child in my arms and turned loose every molecule of faith I had. The baby died. It took me years to recover from the pain. My faith took a long, long vacation.

My success in that failure was to not become bitter and remain devoid of all faith. No matter how much faith and intelligence we have, we cannot know everything. You can put what we do know in a thimble. The contents of our little thimble may be precious to us, but we need to realize at all times and in all the circumstance of life that we live in an immense universe with trillions of possibilities. As Einstein said, If we miss the mystery, we miss it all.” And the mystery is that we can actually survive and do surprisingly well if we just respect and use our little thimble.

Someone once chided me because I called my opponents the night before the 1978 election and asked where they would be holding their victory parties on election night. Both asked, “Why do you want to know?” and I answered, “Because if you win, I want to come by and congratulate you.” I knew if I lost the election, I could still succeed at being a man. When you know in your heart that you are strong enough to lose, you have won. And your victory is at a much higher level than accumulating the most votes.

You and your thimble can do great things in life. It makes you feel like MIghty Mouse, doesn’t it?

E-mail Dalton Roberts at

about Dalton Roberts...


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