Feeling Like A Failure

Ecclesiastes 9:4 – There is hope only for the living. As they say, “It’s better to be a live dog than a dead lion!”

How many of us are paralyzed by the fear of failure?  Failure in business, failure as a mother, failure as a wife, daughter, student?  We can’t sleep at night, or over eat, or have other obsessive habits because we are constantly trying to avoid thinking about the possibilities of how we may fail.

I know, intellectually, that many of the millionaires and billionaires in the world have gone bankrupt at least twice before.  They have not been destroyed by failure.  If anything, it causes them to rally back and become better than they were before.  If only we could grasp that attitude.

I joke with other mothers when they are worried that their children will somehow be affected by the trials they go through or the mistakes they have made.  I always think back to the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” where Tom Hank’s character yells at his son, “Great, so now you’ll have something to tell Oprah!”  Now, I tell them, YOUR children will have something to tell Oprah, too. 🙂

However, it’s not so funny when fear eats at us continually.  It undermines other areas of our life that have no reason to be insecure. It can enter into our relationships, causing us to demand more re-assurance from our loved ones than would be normally requested – only to make up for the lack of re-assurance we are causing ourselves.

I say “causing ourselves”, because we are the ones doing it to ourselves. Others may point out things wrong with us or with what we have done, but we will only respond to it with fear if we believe there may be some truth in the accusation.  So again, what people say to us isn’t the problem.  It is what we think about ourselves that is the problem.

I used to explain it this way.  If you come up to me and say to me, “Your skin is blue.”  I will look at you as though you need to be put away in an asylum. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that my skin is not blue. I do not look like Violet in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  So I am not worried, disturbed or upset that someone has said that I am colored blue.

Tell me I didn’t do a good job at cleaning the house, and I will simply shrug my shoulders and say, “Then do it yourself.  I hate doing it.”  That is not an important, self-defining issue for me.  But tell me that I have not done a good job at something important to me, like being a mother and raising my children, or having integrity in what I do, or not being professional in my communications – THAT will get my goat. Why?  Probably because somewhere in the back of my mind I’m always afraid that I may fail in those areas.

However, what I want to point out today is not when people say you’ve done something you haven’t done.  I want to talk about when they point out a failing in your life that is actually true.  What if you really HAVE “failed”?  What now?

Did you know that God can turn failure into success?  He can take dead people and bring them back to life.  He can turn water into wine.  He can break addiction and set people free.  The trick is not giving up AFTER the perceived failure has happened.

If we call out to God during our failure, and DO NOT WALK AWAY or QUIT, we give God the opportunity to take what we messed up and make something of it Himself.  More importantly, this is not just a one-time “get out of jail free” ticket we get.  He will do this throughout our lives, so we can learn from our failures and become better and more successful in our lives.

Why are the billionaires wealthy?  Because they LEARNED from their previous failures. They weren’t afraid to take risks, either.  They were willing to get their knees scraped when they fell down, because they knew they could get back up and try again. They weren’t DONE when they failed.  That was just a stepping stone to their ultimate success.

And some of those billionaires will probably fail and go bankrupt again.  But that doesn’t mean that’s how they will stay.  So why will we allow failure to ruin everything that could possibly lay ahead of us?  Why do we shut the book and say it’s over?

Maybe, because it’s easier to do that.  Maybe we’re tired of fighting.  Maybe we don’t feel up to losing yet once again. But those are just EMOTIONS dragging you down.   As long as we are alive, we have hope of turning our failure into success.

If God spoke something to you, DON’T GIVE UP!  His timing is perfect, even if it doesn’t match with our own. And your failures are simply lessons about how NOT to do things, so you will know better how to do them in the future.

This is not the time to give up on God.  This is the time to lay it all on the line and trust Him with everything you’ve got. Failure is a state of mind – not a physical state.  Failure only happens when you QUIT.  If you keep going, you can still be a success.

What are you afraid of failing at?  How is it affecting the rest of your life and relationships? Have you given up after a failure?  Do you believe that God can bring success out of that failure?  I will believe it with you – but you have to make the conscious decision to believe it for yourself, and to act accordingly.

Penny Haynes