Giving Myself Permission to Fail

IMG_6188

A few days ago, my 6 year old boy John came home from school ecstatic about the prizes he had won and all the candy in his Easter goodie bag from school. One of his favorites was a bouncy ball. He bounced it on our hard wood floors and on the ceiling and his sister was jumping off the walls in sync with it.

“John, take that outside please,” I tell him as I desperately wanted some peace and quiet.

He opens the door and heads outside and within 3 minutes, he’s yelling my name.

“MOM! You shouldn’t have told me to go outside! I bounced the ball and now it’s lost.”

Oh boy. There goes my quiet time.

I go outside to help him look for it and it’s nowhere to be found.

“I’m sorry John.”

“It’s your fault. You told me to go outside,” he says on the verge of tears.

I reason with him and share how he is still responsible for the ball. I let it be and let it go, but something inside me still felt like I failed him. I guess I didn’t suggest the best solution for play.

My feelings toward his lost bouncy ball reminded me of how I often feel in motherhood. Am I failing at this? I never feel like I quite have it down and as soon as I do, some other struggle and difficulty surfaces.

In her honest article, “My Pact to Become Good at Failure,” Mandy Arioto says,

“In a sense, motherhood offered me new eyes to see that failure can be the thing that saves us. This is what I’ve come to believe about failure: it’s good. Just like childbirth is good. And by good I mean incredibly painful. Failure hurts, but there is tremendous potential for goodness to be born through it.”

– (Hello, Darling MOPS Magazine Spring Issue, pg. 29)

I think she is right on. For so many years, I have looked at failure as a bad thing. Could it be though, that failure can be turned into a good and godly thing?

When a deeply invested friendship hasn’t turned out the way I thought, I’ve felt like a failure. When I can’t seem to balance all the needs of my children and love my husband well, I’ve felt like a failure. When I lash out and say words I would’ve never imagined saying to those I love, I’ve felt like a failure. When dinner is not what anyone wants to eat, yep… failure.

And then there are situations and circumstances in the past that haunt my heart today in light of failure: A hurtful word, an unacceptable grade, the inability to do what was expected, a damaged relationship, and more.

IMG_7096Regardless of the sin I’ve committed and the sin that’s been done to me, God still uses failure and all the pain and suffering attached to it. Maybe we don’t see the purposes now — that’s okay. God loves us in the midst of our deepest failures.

There is never a time when He is shaking his fists and yelling at us to get our act together; rather His arms are outstretched like a father to his child. He tells us to, “Come.”  He accepts us by grace through faith, not by any good works we have done. Even on our best day, we still fall short. That’s why we need Him. That is what we celebrate this Easter.

I will fail, but I am not defined by my failures because God redeems them. He forgives. He is gracious. He is patient. And pain, while it is so difficult, can be a wonderful tool for growth and change and Christ-likeness. If I gave myself permission to fail, and let God pick up the broken pieces for me, I’m pretty sure I would start to see things with a fresh pair of lenses where grace saturates the world around me. It is a daily battle to rely on these truths, but it’s possible.

Well, the bouncy ball incident hasn’t been talked about all weekend until yesterday when John stormed into the house and yelled:

“MOM! I found the ball. It was in front of the slide!” He threw his arms around my waist and almost knocked me down, to which I translated: Mom you’re still the best!

Why Your Failures Don’t Define You

Last week, I sat down on the couch to find something to watch with my three year old. The only station he would sit still to watch was the Alpine skiing championships.

As I watched each skier take off and head down the mountain, I was amazed by their speed, precision, and intensity to beat the clock no matter what.

Obviously, these skiers trained like crazy and had worked their way to the top. But what stood out to me the most was when one happened to fall or his foot would slip, he’d get back up and keep going. He would plan on making up for lost time further down the slope.

He didn’t let an unexpected fall interfere with his ultimate goal of crossing the finish line.

How true it is in our faith that we often let a stumbling block, failure or mistake keep us down on the ground. We focus so hard on the fact that we slipped, that we don’t shake the dust (or snow) off our shoes and move on. We forget what Scripture says:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Gal. 6:9

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. – James 1:2-3

God knows that we fall at times. He knows we want to give up in the battle against sin. He knows that we doubt if he will carry us through the really tough and testing times in our faith.

Maybe you set some New Year’s resolutions and you’ve already failed at them. Maybe you set some goals spiritually, physically, or in your relationships and marriage but you’ve fallen short. And you didn’t plan on that happening exactly. And you’re down because it’s only January!

The good news is that the next step for you is to get back up and keep pressing on.

But trust me. You will be tempted to let the failure define you or to let it replay in your mind over and over. Don’t let it.

Christ defines you. He is your identity. He is your hope in the fight against sin. He is the one who gives you the grace and strength to make it through.

So whatever it is that you’re struggling with, don’t lose heart. Because Christ has already promised if you do not give up, you will reap a harvest in due time. And your persevering will be totally worth it.

Do you ever struggle with allowing some kind of slip to define you?

 

 

Switch to mobile version