I found this rousing moment in Very Good Lives, which is a short book holding Rowling’s commencement address to the students of Harvard University.
So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena where I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.
— J.K. Rowling
In this speech Rowling includes references that only a person familiar with Scripture would use. Even in this quote she’s hinting at Jesus’ parable to build on the rock. That’s because, even though many in the church feared and avoided her books, Rowling’s relationship with Christianity influenced her work. You can see her teaching Christian ideas in her fiction and in this speech.
During my last pregnancy, when the nausea continued into the second and third trimester, I read Rowling’s Harry Potter series. They held a light for me in those dark days before our second son arrived. She reminded me through her fiction that grief often precedes growth. Like Harry Potter himself, Rowling knows that private acts of failure can sharpen our vision. They can show us what we really want.
How many of you would agree that failure can bring unknown benefits?
If you want to find a community who values your failures as a new foundation to grow, consider the Freedom Builders Community, where I pastor.