Inside: Christian Encouragement for When You Feel Like a Failure
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”Thomas A. Edison
Successes and failures happen every day.
Sometimes only the dog may see them, but they happen.
The word “success” has different definitions:
- “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”,
- “the attainment of popularity or profit”,
- “the correct or desired result of an attempt”.
We are swayed by the next get-rich-quick scheme or awestruck by the rags to riches stories. Our focus is on the final picture.
But a picture is made up of thousands of details in a thousand different ways, such as light from a photo or from different means of art (eg, Pointillism, Impressionism). These images are all made from a thousand different brushes, points, lights, or takes.
What you see in the end is the result of many approaches, many attempts, and many failures.
Sometimes it’s the little things.
My three-year-old son came up to me the other day, and said, “Mommy, I went potty!”
Now before those of you who are not parents click away, hear me out.
I exclaimed, “Great job buddy!” Then I thought, Why am I praising that!?
My son had been potty trained for some time, so this was not a new accomplishment. He just thought it was noteworthy at the time to inform me that he actually did what I told him to do.
How is it that I can praise my three-year-old for something so mundane, but Im so hard on myself?
I can praise my friend for losing five pounds but then berate myself over the fact that I have not lost all the weight I want.
I can praise my daughter for reading the word “because”, but I can’t praise myself for my bachelor’s degree?
On the day I wrote this original draft I accomplished the following things:
- I took my daughter to school,
- Went to the grocery store,
- Got my son to actually sleep during nap time,
- Managed to do a little laundry,
- Work on this blog post,
- Fed my kids ( I will not tell you what it was),
- Put up a Facebook page,
- And put my kids to bed
Normally I would just chalk all of those tasks up to a day’s work.
But that’s just the thing,
Sometimes success means you survived another day. Some days you will be lucky to complete one thing off of your task list. That is okay! All these mundane tasks lead to greater things.
I don’t praise the above because they are great accomplishments in the long scheme. I praise them because they are just one of many little successes that lead to a bigger picture of success. We don’t freeze these moments in time, because we often brush them off as insignificant. But I may argue, that these are just as significant, if not more.
Success is defined by our failures.
I was failing my organic chemistry class in college, and I mean failing. But it was that failure that motivated me to pull that grade up to a B.
It was not easy, at all.
I studied 26 hours a day, peppered my teacher with multiple questions a day, and grasped all the bonus work offered.
By the end of the semester, I had pulled my grade up to a B. I was more ecstatic about that B than becoming valedictorian of my high school class. I’m not saying this to boast, but to point out that B’s were not historically great for me.
Have you ever read the story of Hosea and Gomer in the Bible? (In the book of Hosea) Hosea basically entered a failing relationship multiple times but he kept trying and ultimately had success. (For a great non-fiction re-telling on this story, check out Francine River’s Redeeming Love**, one of my all-time favorite books.)
David failed countless times. He had an affair and then had the husband killed and then made it look like an accident! Talk about making some bad choices! (2nd Samuel 11) But no one looks back on David’s life as a failure. In fact, he is considered one of the most important characters in the Bible.
Michael Jordan was once cut from his high-school basketball team. *
Stephen King’s first novel was rejected 30 times. *
Albert Einstein once was thought to be mentally handicapped. *
All those little failures led you to where you are at today or where you are going to be.
Do you think that God does not know your future!? That our God, who made the winds and the waves obey him, who walked on water, who caused water to turn to wine, cannot take your failures and work them for the good.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”Romans 8:28
What do you consider to be some of your failures and how did you overcome them? Share in the comments below!
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