Failure is something we all experience in life. It is that thing that both holds us back and challenges us to push forward. A quote I have on the front of my computer says this, “The pleasure of success feels best after the pain of failure.”
We are called to confront our failures head-on and admit that we messed up but not allow that to keep us from learning from that defeat and learn not to make those mistakes again next time around. If we dwell on our missteps, then we have already admitted our loss and let our insecurity reek havoc on our lives. The best thing to do when we fail is to not let the poor outcome of our situation keep us knocked down.
Thinking about failure and its dictatorship over our lives got me thinking, why do we let it control our lives? Many times it is not intentional, no one goes around saying how they are hoping that failure has victory over their lives but too often, we subconsciously bow to defeat thinking that there is no way we can overcome it. I talked to a few people who were willing to share some of the personal losses they have encountered and how they claimed victory over fear and failure. I interviewed a couple relatives, my friend, and my mom.
First, I asked each of them was in their own opinion, what was their biggest failure in life.
Andrew simply said, “relying on my own strength and not God’s.”
Following that response, my mom said, “prioritizing and staying in the presence of God regardless of the situation.”
Next, my aunt replied, “My biggest failure was my first marriage. I consider it the biggest failure because it is the most important decision in your life and when you two are separating it is the biggest failure of your life.” Then continued, “it is emotionally difficult and leaves a very deep scar because you are reminded of it on a daily basis and you never fully rationalize that it’s not your fault and you never fully forgive yourself.”
She added her biggest failure was the same as my uncle’s in that she felt that her first marriage was not rooted in a solid foundation and they were not equally yoked. She talked about how it was difficult because neither party was willing to admit how bad things actually were between them since they both had extremely different values.
I appreciated their vulnerability to open up to me and I hope that their lessons from their failed marriages will be lessons that I can learn from someday when I am entering into a marriage of my own. I want to be able to have a marriage like the one between my aunt and my uncle currently because I see how they are equally yoked and the relationship is Christ-centered. The marriage they are joined in now shows me, that there are such things as wholly, Godly, matches out there for those who are looking.
My next question was to inquire about a situation they all dealt with and how they overcame it.
First, my aunt talked about forgiveness. She said, “I was wronged and wanted to retaliate, but it was 3 weeks from Christmas and I was convicted that I shouldn’t, so I prayed that God would change my heart toward this person. I was really diligent in praying every day for forgiveness and a month later, I encounter this person, and I felt a supernatural love for them. I had no ill will or resentment for them anymore.”
It was inspiring to see how she overcame her fleshly nature as well as the urge to get payback from someone who had hurt her and was seeking the Lord wholeheartedly to help her, by taking away these awful desires of her flesh to have revenge.
A situation my mom said she had no choice but to overcome was, “handling a relationship incorrectly in a way God wouldn’t have had me handle it.” Then continued, “I think God keeps testing me with the same personality until I learn my lesson. I have to be constantly prayed up and ready to confront my problems in the Lord’s strength not my own.”
This was vital to remember because when we try to do anything in our own strength failure is guaranteed. But when we act in the Lord’s strength, anything is possible. When we seek him in prayer, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf, granting us access to doors that would have otherwise remained closed.
My uncle answered, saying his experience in overcoming something difficult was during his flight training at the Navy Academy.
“My whole flying training.” My uncle explained how all the information he was required to remember was like getting a drink of water from a fire hose, “so trying to finish the training at the speed they were trying to train you was difficult, because you were trying to keep up with the pace of the program, but I was able to complete it, and I overcame it just because it was just something I had to persevere through and had to put all my effort toward to reach the end goal.”
This was encouraging to hear, because my uncle is one of those people who always seems to know what he is doing, and failure does not seem to be something he does. It was nice for me to hear that while he was going to school at the Naval Academy, he had many moments where he felt like he could not do it, but knew that he had no choice but to do it and as a result, was victorious over things that threatened to hold him back.
Andrew responded with this: “When I was really stressed out one time, and I was trying to alleviate the stress, but instead of going to the Lord and asking him to take the stress away and help me, I stressed myself out more by relying on myself to get through the obstacle. I got really angry, had outbursts, and cursed when I shouldn’t have. I went to my grandpa, and he mentored me and told me how to deal with the situation.
Andrew’s advice was something many of us tend to do when things are not going in our favor, we get mad, have a temper tantrum, like a two-year-old, and then have to realign our focus, so that we are tuned into the Lord, so he can help us out of our disastrous circumstances. The key is remembering that without God, we can do nothing, and our work is in vain. He wants to help us if we only cry to him.
After that, I asked about how we can use the failures we have experienced in the past to help guide us in the future.
Andrew went first. “Failure can be a guide because when failure comes you need to rely on God, and he will always there for you to help you through it. You can learn and grow from it.”
“[Failure] shows us what we’re doing wrong, and, I always learn more from my mistakes than I do from my successes. The harder I fall, the deeper I evaluate, so I don’t repeat the failure.” My mom commented.
Next, my uncle chimed in, “It does make you wiser.” He said smiling. “You learn about yourself.”
Lastly, my aunt gave her reply about using failure as a guide. She said how failure could be used as a tool that allows self-reflection and for one to prayerfully consider how to handle the situation differently, in the future. It grants room for growth and improvement.
“Your failures become your testimony of God’s strength in your life and proof that he is working in your life.” She stated.
The last question I asked each of them was what are the key things you have learned from this failure? And how could they apply that insight in the future?
First, went my uncle, saying how he could, now see all the blessings from the Lord from that failed marriage had produced, and how God had someone perfect for him, in the future, my aunt.
He added, “I think generally is what you learn from your failures, is what you’re good at, what you’re not good at, and what your best assets and talents are, and how are they best used. In my life, I know what I can do well, and not do well, and that guides me on a regular basis. Although pushing your boundaries on an intellectual level, your own tendency is to work in your comfort levels.”
As he said this, it reminded me that we need to step outside our comfort zones so God can take us further, into what he has in store for us.
“God will always be there for you, and never forsake you and he always has my back. There is nothing in this world that God cannot fix.” Andrew mentioned.
“To be God-focused and knowing that being God-focused trumps everything.” Remarked my aunt, about the lessons she has taken away from her failures.
“I think the importance of prayerfully asking for God’s direction in your life.”
Speaking of another lesson she took away from her short-comings.
Finally, my mom told me what she had gained, in means of understanding, from her failings.
She talked about how she gets so caught up in what she is doing, work-wise, that it is too easy to forget to focus on what the Lord is trying to do with her, and around her. I love my mom and am proud of the accomplishments she has achieved, in business. She does not mean to, but she tends to hyperfocus on the latest deadline.
She has perfected the art of answering without noticing what she has responded. My brother jokes, saying if I ever want something, wait until she is so fried from work, then, she will give me whatever I ask for. My mom is someone I look up to, with her work ethic and with her walk with the Lord. Although she gets crazy busy with work, she is always there for us and inspires me to seek the Lord on a deeper level.
The most important thing she has taught me is, “to readjust my focus.” When life tries to steal my focus from the Lord, I am reminded to try and find God, before making any, and every decision. My mom instilled that in me, therefore, I am grateful for the lessons she has not only taken away from her faults but that she has been able to pass on to her children so we can learn from her, on how to be better versions of us.
Failure is part of life. When we fail, we are finding a new way not to use, in order to filter through the ways to use. We do this so we can reach our desired target. Fall seven times, and the Lord will pick us up eight times. New ways to try to accomplish something, like the light bulb, would have never been approached, if the creative mind behind those mistakes, gave up when circumstances became difficult or impossible for them.
Those pathfinders and trailblazers are the same individuals, who are now known, not for their defeat, but for the success they had, only after their failures.
That should be motivation enough, for us to go out into the world, and fail. For when we fail and make mistakes, we learn, and, as a result, we are able to grow.
I thought it might be nice to include (down below), what some well-known individuals say about failure.
~Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill~
~Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. Henry Ford~
~I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Thomas A. Edison~
~Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street. Zig Ziglar~
~Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat. Theodore Roosevelt~