When my husband and I moved to Nashville, we moved based on a prompting from the Spirit and a job offer he had received. I kept asking God, what about me? Because I felt like I was just along for the ride and not really a part of the story God was writing.
Within months, we found out mile long lists of why it seemed like God had brought us here, and to my surprise it wasn't just about my husband. God actually had me in mind the entire time, too.
I'm confessing a failure of mine right here: I failed to see that God cared for me, that He saw me, and that He loved me. And as a result I experienced hurt, bitterness, and disappointment in my life that ultimately was self inflicted.
Looking back on the past few years of my life, years where God shook me up grabbed me by the shoulders and changed the plans I wanted for myself into the plans He actually wanted to give me, makes me feel like a failure.
I feel like I missed out on so much of what God wanted to do, because I was self-focused. I wasn't attentive or surrendered, I was distracted. And I think I failed. You might be reading this right now and thinking that I'm being pretty hard on myself, which is kind of my point.
How do you view your own failure?
When you think about the most recent or biggest failure of your life, how does it make you feel? How do you respond to yourself in the midst of failure?
We live in a world where successes are often very public. Social media feeds tell us all about how our neighbors, friends, acquaintances, and that random old friend from high school are succeeding. They tell us about grad school graduations, new home purchases, promotions, babies, parties and celebrations. They don't tell us about failure, but the Bible does.
Dr. David Murray writes, "When we turn to the Bible, we’re given a deep dose of reality. Failure and disappointment are on just about every page. Whether we like it or not, that’s much truer to life than the success narratives that we aspire to and are trying to write for ourselves. By all means, aim high, but recognize that no one escapes failure and disappointment. So, we might as well plan on it and prepare for it with a view to profiting from it."
He goes on to talk about how to profit from failure and disappointment, and confesses that times of failure and disappointment in his life tend to be "the most spiritually productive times of his life."
As a twenty-five year old with big dreams and big hopes for the future, this both scares and excites me. When I read the Word, I'm reminded that there is room for my failures. When I talk to an older mentor, I often get a sense of that dose of reality I get from the Bible. Experience tells mentors who tell us, there is room for your failure.
Failure is inevitable, and it can become an invitation to draw near to God.
The question is less about if and when you fail, because you will fail. Recently, I felt prompted to call someone but I wasn't sure it was the Spirit so I didn't call. I was busy and distracted. It was a small failure, but later I learned what her day was like and wish I would have called when I felt that nudge from God. Other failures are "bigger" in our eyes, some with consequences that last for generations.
This is where I think a biblical worldview is critical. When you fail, you always have the option to draw near to God. We are told that we have all fallen short (Romans 3:21-26) and God is always willing to forgive (1 John 1:9).
The kindness of God leads to repentance (Romans 2:4) and your failures become an opportunity to grow in dependency on God, in humility in your humanness, and in confidence in His position as Lord over your life.
Failure positions us as sons and daughters, and reminds us of Jesus' position as King.
There is room for your failure, because Jesus died for your past, present and future failures. Of course, we should repent and move forward in the process of sanctification.
But when we do fail, we can see it as an opportunity to draw near to God. It's a chance to learn from Him, to experience His grace and goodness, and to reposition ourselves in dependency on Him.
I feel like I failed in our transition season in a lot of ways, but God's promise is to redeem everything. I wrote a book that came out of that season because my failure taught me that God cares about what you want, and it's an opportunity to be directed toward Him.
When you look back on your failures, do you see them as an opportunity to draw near to God? Do you see how God has redeemed and brought purpose from failures, big or small, in your life?