Failing Well

This week I am rereading a book I blew through several years ago as a book club I participate in is reading it this month. The topic of failure came up and it got my mind to really dwelling on that topic, something I am not too comfortable with if I am honest.  

You see I prefer succeeding, and don’t we all right? Failing at something, whether big or small, can chip away at ourselves. At our reputations. Our egos. Our mattering. Our perceived failures, or outright ones for that matter, should be bringing us in closer to God. To chipping away at the veneer of who we’ve built ourselves to be instead of who He designed and created us to be. 

Here’s the bigger thing, we all are a bunch of failures. (Encouraging right?) 

Paul tells us exactly that in Romans. We have all sinned and fallen immensely short of God’s glory. It’s staggering how big of failures we are when it comes to getting God’s glory. We can never meet His perfect way, and we display that failure every single day. (I really am not writing an uplifting post huh?) 

But God (my favorite two words in the Bible) gave us faith through Jesus Christ, right smack dab in the middle of our failures so we could see that He meets us right there in them. He recognizes we fall short and comes right out after us, just like the prodigal son’s father. And so now we look at failure as a means for grace, for God to display His patience with me, for learning on my part. 

 “It’s more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so that we can swing for the fences again.” (P.28)

Just like the author of the book I am reading, I too am learning that I would rather fail at the stuff that matters than succeed at the stuff that doesn’t.

The Voice

My mom was a transcriptionist for 45+ years. Constantly I would see her grabbing a dictionary to look up words. I watched my dad read books and then pour over an encyclopedia (it was the Google of our time kids) to look at the background of that particular event or topic. From the beginning words have been important to me, and especially how they are used. I can still remember studying the 500 most common words that were on the SAT in middle school, and wondering what good it would do me often.

While it works well for my writing at times, and most especially in my thesis writing imagesthroughout grad school, I am prone to use them for bad rather than for good. I have a tendency to use words to criticize, cut down, and mar. I know just what words to use to create the biggest damage and lasting fallout. The bigger issue in all this is that I tend to most frequently use them on myself.

I know exactly what can hurt me most, what line of thinking I can journey down in order to send my emotions in a tailspin. I am hyper critical and incredibly negative of myself.

Lately I have been digging deeper into my insecurities in order to really see where much of them are based. It has been a slow, grinding process with much tension and uneasiness. I do know that this is bigger than me and that God is addressing me directly in many ways in relation to my insecurities. Currently I am reading A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, and I will gladly post a review once I complete it. (In all honesty, I would love to do a small group study on this, so if you’re interested let me know)

One of the areas Renee speaks to is failure. This is something that doesn’t sit well with me, and I often feel like my failures are never forgotten. Work in progress here. She asks a vital question I had never thought to stop and consider. I wanted to share it today because you may be struggling too, with your own voice being the loudest of the critics in your head.

We need to stop the habit of beating ourselves up with so much critical thinking. What are we doing talking to a child of God the way we talk to ourselves?

I think that’s where I land. I speak to myself like I would never speak to another human, or living thing. The voice is ugly and nasty, and it is mine. Having the faith and knowledge that I am a child of God and He says I am cherished, beautiful, and forgiven should trump any words I have for myself. In those moments when my voice gets loud, it’s no longer about me. It’s about believing who God says I am…lets begin together to hear His voice over our own today.

 

I also wanted to share this song, as it’s been resounding in my head and heart over the last two weeks.

Failure is an Option.

I hate failing. Failure is such a strong fear of mine that I often do not even attempt something or pursue something. I am beginning to see how it is connected to approval addiction-something that creeps back into my life if I am not careful to keep it in check.

If I really considered failure, I would see that it is truly inevitable, in parts of my life. Learning to drive for the first time? I failed the driver’s test for my permit. I attempted to learn how to drive a stick shift one time with my sister. I have owned nothing but automatics if that tells you how well that went. To my credit, my sister only gave me five attempts.

But there are things I will fail at. It is in that failure how I choose to 1-react and 2-Who I see reflected in it.

If I stopped to see what failure is inherently designed for, I would see it’s meant to remind me of how sovereign God is, that I am completely reliant upon Him, and He is infallible and perfect. I am dependent solely upon Him to learn, to grow, and to understand. He uses different outlets, circumstances, and people for that dependence reminder.

Do I view failure as God exhibiting pure patience with me?