Are you one to take your “failures” personally? Meaning, do you see an imperfect performance as evidence that you are “not good enough”? Our performance can become so tightly woven into our identity that we are unable to separate the two.
A lost job screams “you don’t have what it takes!”, a broken relationship shakes its crooked finger at you telling you “you just aren’t lovable!” When we see these “failures” through our own eyes with our limited human perspective, they hurt. BAD. But what does God say about “failure”?
Before I go any further, I’d like to take a few moments to really hone in on the word “failure”. I am using this word because it best communicates what I am trying to say but there are a few clarifications that I would like to make – I really dislike the word!
I suspect this is baggage from years of hearing this deflating term echoing in my mind. You name it, I could find a failure in it. Even an A- qualified. However, what I like least about the term is that rather than being used to describe the outcome of a certain event, “failure” is often spoken in reference to an individual.
For example, we may say “Judy is a failure for flunking the test” when really, “Judy just failed the test”. As we embark on this study, please remember that distinction. Failures are isolated incidents, not people. Make sense?
Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.! Corinthians 1:27 (NLT)
This verse used to irk me. Funny how I could call myself a failure morning, noon, and night and yet when the Creator of the Universe calls me out for my humanness, I got a little offended. I was completely missing the point!
God chooses those who are NOT perfectly polished and primped for a purpose- His glory! When others wonder how one so unequipped could do great things, all eyes are on Him (not us). Even as Jesus began to emerge into his ministry, others were astounded that God could use a simple man, the son of a carpenter (Matthew 13:55) from the poor town Nazareth.
By accepting that we are not perfect and yet still embracing that we are appointed to do great things, we are accepting the call of God on our lives.
Our failures have the most fabulous purpose of all. Let’s take a quick look at the story of the “sinful” woman in Luke 7 (sounds like she had some failures in her life to me). If you are skimming, just make sure to read the bolded statements so you don’t miss out.
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. Or and reclined. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!”Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” he said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.” “Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied. Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver Greek 500 denarii. A denarius was equivalent to a laborer’s full day’s wage. to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that? ”Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.” “That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”luke 7:36-48 (NLT)
Our failures can ultimately bring us closer to God! As the story illustrates, would you be more grateful if someone paid off your car or someone paid off your house? Greater debts lead to deeper humility and greater debt forgiveness leads to greater celebration. Don’t let the deficits in your life keep you stuck. Let them be the very thing that propels you to the feet of Jesus. This isn’t groveling, this is the magnetism of thankfulness that draws us to worship. Our knees, they are weak with gratitude.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
I have grown to appreciate my shortcomings and cutting myself some slack has been one of the most pivotal pieces in my journey. Rather than expecting myself to always get an A+ or to always be “Employee of the Month”, I embrace my humanness. When I trip and fall, I dust myself off, shrug my shoulders and acknowledge that “I am weak”. Scuffed knees happen.
Now, does this mean I have a lackadaisical attitude about sin? No, the contrary. The acceptance of my failures and the grace that accompanies them make me even more grateful. I want to try even harder next time, with God’s help.
We all fail. It’s part of life. It is how we define those slips that matter. Our perception of our “failures” can do one of two things: it can put a wedge between us and God as we cave inward and believe the lies that we are”not good enough” or it can draw us closer to Him, filling us with thankfulness and humility that will keep us at his feet. Truly, this is where we find heaven on earth. Perfect attendance, perfect knowledge, perfect adherence- not required!
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Author, Amazon #1 Best Selling Author, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.