For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.' Acts 17:28 (NIV)
Pretend All Is Well – The Failure Series – Part 5
There is perhaps no better catalyst for change, on a personal level and beyond, than failure and pain.
If I were to ask you what moments completely changed your life, I bet more of them would be painful moments than not.
A few years ago, I resigned my job as a Pastor on staff at a large and wonderful Church. I’d been through a lot (which is a story for another time… keep an eye out for our podcast). I was tired. Sad. Lonely. In pain. The reasons I gave for resigning my job centered around the birth of my second child. But really, we all knew why I had to resign. I just wasn’t cutting it.
It wasn’t one BIG failure, but a string of tiny little ones. Everything I touched seemed to flounder. Nothing was flourishing, least of all myself. I was embarrassed, humiliated. Humbled. I had angled my whole life around being a preacher and a Pastor. I passed up jobs, university placements, relationships, and more, to pursue this dream. And at the pinnacle of my “career,” it all came crashing down. Honestly. It sucked. And I still cringe at the thought of it all, and how I looked as I resigned and continued to flounder.
That was the worst part. Not the failure itself, but how it changed the way people thought about me and looked at me. That was the part that hurt the most. My pride.
And the way I began to see myself through these failures.
It was soul crushing.
I set out from my teenage years with big dreams and beliefs and anticipations and expectations and great faith and a heart full of what I believed to be promised from God… And I reached my early thirties with a measure of disappointment and hurt.
How do you come back from failure?
I’ve heard cute messages and read feel good books and little fluffy one-liners on the internet encouraging me to get up, dust myself off, and keep trying.
But there’s really only one way to get through failure.
Don’t run from it, don’t pretend it’s not happening, don’t lie about it (to yourself especially) and pretend all is well (how many times must we misuse the quote “it is well with my soul” ???!!!). If you’ve failed, be real about it. Let the season take its course.
Because some of those clichéd statements that take 10 seconds to read are true, like this one:
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou
“A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions–as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Learning to rise out of my failures, learning to listen to them like answers to a question, redefined the very nature of failure for me…
Is redefining it for me, still.
It's causing me to believe – not just hope and wish and pray – that my identity is hidden in Christ, and no amount of failure can uproot it. In fact, failure only reinforces the love within which I live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28).
And that everyone else is in the same boat as me.