Failure is an Option
What would you do if you could not fail? I have asked myself this question, and it’s helped me to unlock dreams and desires. But here’s an even better question: What is worth doing even if you fail? As a recovering perfectionist, my fear of failure has been huge. In my head, I know that it’s ok to fail, we can learn from our failures, and that nobody’s perfect. But it’s much harder to persuade my heart. The freedom to be fully alive means giving myself permission to live a life where failure is an option, not an ending.
All my life, I’ve lived by two words: ‘be careful’. But in the beginning of 2020, I believe God spoke two words to me: “unfollow fear.” On social media, we ‘follow’ people to keep updated on their lives. And I have unintentionally ‘followed’ fear most of my life. Most of my choices have been made out of fear – fear of missing out, fear of failure, fear of what people think…Or out of the avoidance of fear. Part of my new beginning in this season is about learning to unfollow fear. And that includes the fear of failure.
Crying over Spilled Milk
Why am I so afraid to fail? I’ve been processing this a lot this last month or so. One of the things I’ve realized that ultimately, my heart does not believe that mistakes are redeemable. Somehow, at a deep level, I believe my mistakes are permanent. They aren’t fixable. So I cry over spilled milk – because the mess feels too big to clean up. Failure is especially devastating to me when my mistakes hurt other people. It’s very hard to forgive myself, and ultimately I know that’s just my ego and pride. I can’t have empathy for someone else if I’m not willing to forgive myself. True compassion and love is about the other person’s pain. But fear is about my own. When it’s too painful for me to face my own failure, I can’t show up for other people’s pain. How can I apologize to someone if failure is not an option?
There is a Redeemer
The Bible says that God came to redeem me – take my mess and make something beautiful. But do I really believe it? Faith is just another word for trust. Fear is really just faith in its negative form: fear is believing my failures are bigger than God’s love. Fear says: “You can mess up God’s plan.” “You can ruin things”. “You can do irreparable damage”. But God says I am not the sum of my failures. I can take risks, and trust Him to redeem the mistakes that will happen. Perfectionism won’t keep me safe, it will keep me prisoner. Instead of ‘being careful’, God wants me to know I’m being ‘cared for’. He’s bigger than my mistakes. Failure is an option, because there is a Redeemer.