Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm A Failure

I admit it. I'm a failure. I've tried many different things and found that I have failed at them. In school, I failed a few tests. I've failed at relationships. I've failed at jobs. I've failed at a number of things I've tried to do.

Each time I fail at something, I wind up being overly critical of myself and feel worthless and no good. I tend to focus on the negative aspect of failure and tell myself how lousy I am - "You're a failure. You can't do anything right. You're a loser!"  Truth be told, I think the majority of us (if not all) tend to beat ourselves up and feel terrible when we fail at something. But we don't have to be like that.

The thing is, failure can be good - despite what we might think.  It is through our failures and the mistakes we make in life that help us to grow. We gain new experiences and insights into who we are as people.  I was terrible at math when I was in school; it was definitely a subject I struggled with. I am not a math person at all. When I failed on a math test (to be honest, there were more near failures on these tests, but I did fail some), it taught me that this was a subject I couldn't do on my own. I just simply couldn't understand the concepts. If I wanted to get better, I would have to get extra help (which I eventually did) - even if I felt like a loser for having to do this.  Really though, asking for extra help does not make you a loser, despite what you think at 12 or 13 years old! I eventually humbled myself and asked for extra help, got it, and did better on my tests.

When we fail, and if we are honest with ourselves we know that we will fail at something in our lives (we are human afterall, and we aren't perfect), we have two choices to make:

1. Let the failure define us
2. Let the failure drive us

If we let failure define us, then we will be more apt to focus on the negative aspects like I mention at the beginning of the post - we will feel useless or worthless, or feel as though we can't do anything. Negative thoughts and feelings about failure will cause us to be afraid to try something new for fear that we won't be able to do it. These types of thoughts and feelings can also cause us to feel as though no one would like us because we aren't perfect - I mean, really, who wants to be with someone who fails at whatever he/she tries? (note the sarcasm used here).  But guess what, God still loves us - even when we fail!

Allowing our failure to drive us puts a positive spin on these types of situations.  "So what if I fail" should be said as a statement. Spoken this way, our failures will drive us rather than define us.  So what if I failed my test. I now know that I need to study harder.  So what if I didn't make the sports team. I am going to practice harder everyday and polish my moves; that way I can try out again next year and have a better chance of getting on the team. So what if I failed at drawing. I've since discovered that I am a much better sculpter. (The above are just examples, and not necessarily drawn from my own life.)

Satan likes to encourage us to let our failures define us. He wants us to focus on those so that we won't try or do anything new for the Kingdom of the Lord. He wants us to remember and feel like a failure because we can't cook very well. Letting that failure define us might cause us to not want to reach out to others and invite them to our homes for fellowship. He wants us to focus on what we can't do, or what we are afraid to do for fear of not being successful.  If we take the same situation and let that failure define us, we might think something like, "So what if I can't cook. I can still invite people over to my home for fellowship - I can host a Bible study or just have people over to watch the game on TV."

The point of this post is that we all fail at something (or many things); we aren't perfect. God can still use a "failures". We might have done something terrible in the past, or had something awful happen to our family, but God can still use it for His Kingdom. Our past experiences help us to reach out and help others who may be going through the same or similar experience now.  For example, if a woman has had a miscarriage in the past, she is better equipped to help another woman having the same experience than would a woman who has not had a miscarriage. Someone who has struggled through addiction in his past is better abled at helping someone currently struggling through an addiction. God can, and does, use our past failures and experiences for good.

From the beginning of time, humans have failed. That's why God sent his only Son to die for us and to save us.

Do you let your failures define you or drive you? How can you use your failures for the Lord? What do you think the final paragraph means?