Give Yourself Permission: To Fail
Do you remember when a blue ribbon was really something to celebrate?
A few years ago I worked for an organization that put on a kid’s obstacle course race. Teams of kids would compete for prizes in their age group and at the end of the day, every kid received a green participation ribbon. The kids who competed in our race loved it. They had fun, they laughed, they cheered and they enjoyed competing against their friends.
I can’t say the same thing for the parents. The hardest part of race day was dealing with all of the moms and dads who complained and moaned that their kid didn’t get the right score or that they deserved a blue ribbon, not just a green one. Questions like, “Who’s in charge of scoring the heats?” and “Why didn’t our team win first place?” were hurled at us from all sides. And that was just for the 5 and 6 year olds. What a nightmare. By the end of the day, I would have given anything to just put a big stack of blue ribbons out on a table and let parents take them for their kids.
We live in a culture of success. No longer is it acceptable to keep score at little kids’ soccer games. Now we attend graduations with 22 valedictorians. Saying that one person is better than another is no longer politically correct. (Ah, political correctness, my favorite.) Somewhere, somehow, we have lost the sense that there are winners and there are losers. We don’t want anyone to feel bad, so we create a false environment of achievement and success. It’s so sad and it’s so detrimental.
Here’s the thing, THINKING GIRLS, we’ve got to give ourselves permission to fail.
Yes, it’s scary and no, it’s not fun. But in failure we experience, first hand, what life is really about and we open ourselves up to receive God’s best.
Opposites rely each other. Light and dark. High and low. Joy and sorrow. Without one, the other cannot exist. Without failure there is no success. What do you have to base achievement on if there is no lack of it? Are you following me?
When you read about David in the book of Psalms you get a very clear picture of a man who lived a life of great failure and great success. In doing so, he really lived. He had incredible moments of joy and singing and celebration. He also had heart-wrenching times of sadness, fear and depression. There were times in David’s life when he totally blew it. Remember Uriah? And there were times when he was wildly successful.
David was a warrior, but what would his success mean if he had never failed? If he had never struggled or felt fear he would have never truly understood the emotions that are linked with success. There is nothing like the feeling you get with great accomplishment. But if you never feel the other end of the spectrum, the high of success becomes the middle of the road. Ho hum. Whatever.
Let me be really clear here, THINKING GIRLS, God did not create you for ho hum.
God created you for awe and wonder and amazement and joy and success. When we give ourselves PERMISSION to fail we get some of our most needed attributes. Things like humility, compassion, empathy and generosity are born out of failure. They are the gifts we receive when we rely on God, not ourselves.
We are called to live lives of humility and joy and compassion and celebration. But we can’t experience all of those things if we don’t fail once in a while. Failure is critical to us becoming whole, useful and forgiven people.
I can tell you from experience, there is nothing like standing in line at the welfare office to break your pride. An empty bank account and times of severe hardship birth generosity. When you’ve been there, you can’t help but feel empathy and compassion for another.
How about you? Are you gripping onto success? Or have you given yourself permission to fail?
Take some time to evaluate your life. Is there something you are holding too tightly to because you are afraid to fail? What if in your failure God brings you to the place He has always wanted you to be? Don’t cheat God out of giving you His very best because you don’t want to look dumb or seem incompetent. You may never be able to receive all that He has for you until you give up control and allow yourself to fail.
Whether it’s a personal goal, a hobby, a business venture or something else, if it’s time to give it up don’t be afraid. Because of Christ we can have beauty for ashes and good things from the Father above. But we have to give up control. Are you ready to give yourself PERMISSION to fail? I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with you, if you do!