Failing at Failing

I think I’m pretty safe in saying that we’ve all messed up. Failed. Missed the mark. Stumbled. Tossed a turkey. Flopped. Fumbled. Committed a faux pas.

I’m not even talking about sin, which we’ve all done. I’m saying that in probably every aspect of life, if we are honest with our introspection, we recognize our shortcomings.

Failure is common. We botch things. We miscalculate. We have to start over sometimes. Some failures are so large, that we feel they are irreparable and we either work to hide our mistake or we get depressed at our lack of perfection. Other times, we can slap a proverbial Band-Aid on our mistake and get by. Some deficiencies are small enough that others might not even notice and we skirt by with little attention but still much shame.

For instance, moms tend to deal with much guilt. Every mom is unique, with her own personality and parenting style, her own methods of discipline and instruction, and her personal way of relating to the children in ways that they know her love and affection. Each mom is so unique in fact that God chose her to be their mother and no other. Yet, mothers still compare themselves with others and feel they fail because they have not done everything the way other moms have done things. Women deal with “mommy guilt” all the time because they unfairly view themselves and forget their unique attributes for which God chose them to be moms of these unique children. And dads are not oftentimes any better, they are just more private about their guilt.

Men and women deal with defeat at work. Projects under perform. Time lines are missed. Coworkers fight, gossip, and blame others for their own mistakes. Bosses become angry. No wonder we’re all stressed at home.

So what’s the solution? As a people, there’s clearly a problem with failure. How do we stop failing? We don’t! Mistakes happen. C.S. Lewis said, “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”

This is also the Bible’s perspective. God knows we are not perfect. He knows we make mistakes, both spiritually and secularly. There is a reason God’s amazing Gospel plan of salvation is called His “eternal purpose” (Eph 3.11). Before we sinned, God knew we would sin. Before Adam and Eve threw God’s creation in the wastebasket, God knew how to fix things. Before we all joined in with the rest of creation and sinned, God had a plan in place to make us better.

The question is not if we will make mistakes, it’s how we make the most of our mistakes. How do we keep from failing at failing? The key is to learn from our mistakes. “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently” (Henry Ford). We must take our lessons from failure, repent, and become better. Paul words it like this—“For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter” (2 Corinthians 7:11). When we learn from our mistakes, it changes who we are. Let’s stop failing at failing and learn how we can fail better, be better, and live better.