Let’s face it, life can be a beast! It can be exactly like the seven-headed beast from the sea that we read about in Revelation chapter 13 verse 1. You know, the beast with blasphemous words written on all seven of its heads. When I imagine this beast and think of the names written on its seven heads, I think of words like sickness, sin, heartbreak, pride, loss, and failure. You may think of other names or words that may describe your life’s troubles, but I want to focus on one that has particularly influenced my life’s journey. Let’s chat about Failure.
Failure can be one of the hardest things to experience and overcome. Most times when we feel as though we have failed it is when we have truly tried hard and passionately for something. Yet, there are many things that failure can teach us. This is why facing your failure with the appropriate attitude and perspective is essential. It affects your growth as an individual and determines if you will buckle or benefit from your circumstances.
“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill
It is very tempting to look at your circumstance after having failed and you may want to give up and not try again. Or you may even determine yourself as being a failure, you begin to identify with it and deem yourself unworthy to have whatever it is that you tried for. Trust me, I know something about wanting to give up and allowing my failures to define me or even call the last word in myself. Allowing my failure to shape my world views and opinions of myself and those around me. Failure can really stain the glass over your eyes, giving you a perspective that will leave you stuck! Especially when we face multiple “Ls”, almost in sequence, we can look at it as a sign and be extremely tempted to throw in the towel but quitting is not an option friend. As Napoleon Hill states, failure carries benefit, so we must learn how to see the benefits and “Fail Forward”.
Failing Forwarding is not something that I can teach you but I can allow you a glimpse into my own experience. Which began with self-awareness and having a vision for the future. In May 2016, I found myself walking into my office to settle into planning for the day, but the day had very different plans for me. My office phone rang and on the other end was the company’s’ VP and Department Manager asking if I could meet them in the conference room, and yes, you guessed it, I was being laid off. Even though losing a job could be life-altering and a major adjustment, I was surprisingly numb and not present at all. I can’t even recall most of the dialogue. You see, a year before that I experienced my first and toughest breakup from my daughter’s father and felt completely overwhelmed with disappointment. I wanted so badly to crawl under a rock! But I couldn’t, I had too much to do, and a little girl to provide for. I couldn’t lose it or buckle; I needed to hold it together and figure out what God was doing in my life and why was all of this happening to me.
Every day after that, I did what was absolutely necessary. You know, feed the kid, take the kid to school, sleep until it’s time to pick up the kid from school, feed the kid, sleep, bathe, and repeat. I did this for months until my depression settled me into a very dark place. I had lost my hope. I had gone days, weeks even, without praying or feeding my spirit. I was dry, I had given up and was completely blind and unaware of myself. I would wake up every morning feeling and behaving as a complete failure. Having nothing to look forward to, I found myself bingeing on Netflix series and eating junk food and I stopped attending church as often. Sometimes Failure comes along with friends, friends like rejection, abandonment, grief, and heartbreak. It affects areas of our lives that are not inherently tied to whatever you’ve failed at. It causes you to look through its lenses, seeing everything as it would call it to be but here is what I have learned about failure: it does, indeed, have its benefits.
Failure can be good to us if we allow it to be.
The failure coupled with the rejection and abandonment from my ex, left me almost crippled in despair. Struggling so badly with depression that I seriously had thoughts of not wanting to live anymore, so much so that my mother noticed this behavior and came over to my home to remind me of all that I had to live for and also encouraged me to “find something to look forward to”. In other words, my mother unknowingly helped me to become aware of myself and encouraged me to cast and hold on to a vision for the future. But where do I find this vision? How can I know which way to go when I am so lost? I asked myself those questions and was reminded of the scripture that is often quoted, found in Proverbs 29:18. I like the New Living Translation and it says:
“When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.”
What this meant to me was that God has a place for me to go to. I wasn’t rejected, I wasn’t abandoned or even lost. God knew exactly where I was and He knew the way and the path (guidance) that I needed to take to get there. I no longer needed to wander around aimlessly in my emotions and despair, I could seek him and accept the plans, implement them and find my way forward, toward joy. Once I grabbed hold of this truth and it became my anchor, I began to seek guidance in moving forward rather than feeling sorry for myself and focusing on all the wrong I’ve done to possibly land me in this pit of failure. I began to activate my faith and trust God, even with my inability to trust Him. I gave that over to Him as well and began to move forward.
“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.” – Psalm 40:2
When we have faced hardships we should try hard to focus on moving forward. I’ve understood this to be Failing Forward. I’ve learned that failure if embraced correctly, can teach us, humble us, build our resistance and resilience. It expands our capacity to be empathic and, if you grind really hard to call failures’ bluff, you can become an expert at whatever you set your heart and mind on; you become better. It is not there for us to quit or give up! It is here to teach us and, many times, grow us rich in character! If you find yourself feeling like a failure or facing it head on, I want you to understand all that God has to say to us through His word and allow it to take root in your heart, meditate on the scriptures provided here and search for more. The word of God saved us as it states in James 1:21:
Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Take it with you as you travel through life. Practically, here are a couple things you can do to Fail Forward.
When we pray we give God full access to our lives and circumstance. Although He is sovereign He is a God of order who also desires relationship and prayer brings you closer to the Father’s heart and He will begin to share with you His heart for YOU, giving you a vision and something to press forward toward.
Exercise your body and your faith. Being physically and spiritually strong will cause all of your extremities to fall into line with the Father’s vision for you. You’ll feel confident and you’ll begin to see progress in your life as you begin to move on the plans set before you. Remember Proverbs 29:18? Well, a keyword we all can avoid in scripture is “obey.” Don’t be average, be excellent and move.
Commit and Focus
Productivity is a millennials favorite word, right? We’re all about being busy or appearing to be such, right? Well, we should be productive and for sure, we should be busy about God’s business. However, we can sometimes lack commitment and focus. Everyday force yourself to focus on your assignment, make lists, checkpoint systems, have accountability around you, etc. Commit and complete one thing at a time and take the time.
So, let’s remember in order to move forward from failures, we must, seek God, accept His plans and get to work toward our joy and if you are suffering from depression get help, I’ve provided a resource below…
Families for Depression Awareness