Failure as an Option

I was raised in a social environment to be the best and do the best I could. I started to instill that same philosophy in my daughter when she was younger, and I began to see how a perfectionism mindset came into being. I saw her set unreachable goals for herself, and then the utter sadness and low self-esteem that came from not reaching those unattainable objectives. And then I realized I had done that to myself, my whole life.

Yes, I quickly made a change in my expectations for her. In those moments when she has held exceptional standards and then not met them for herself, I have told her to give herself a break. She cannot do things perfectly the first time she tries – nobody can. We hear the old adage “practice makes perfect” and think it should be true. However, practice does not make us perfect, as nobody can reach that unattainable goal – ever. Practice makes us better.

And what happens before we reach better? or even best-in-our-talent? Failure. We fail to meet our goals and expectations. We fail to please the people we try to please. We fail to make that x amount of dollars we try to reach. We fail to… get the part in that film or play… sell that book or painting… pass that driving test… get into the college of our dreams… fit into that outfit… beat that game… get that promotion or new job… even buy the right ice cream.

And what happens when we fail? Usually we veer right or left and head into another direction. We might find a different outlet for our creativity, or a different outfit that works even better, or another job that makes us feel more fulfilled. We might make friends at a different college that we would never have made and we might delight our taste buds with an extraordinary new flavor. Or… we try again. And we might make it the next time.

Failure is not a bad word. Failure is practice. It’s a learning opportunity. It can be a new adventure. Keep trying my friends, but don’t beat yourself up for failing.

Because really, as my friend Leah would say, what will it matter throughout the rest of eternity?

That is a very good question, Leah.

I keep your words close to my heart and think of them often when I’m tearing myself down for not meeting my own perfect objectives. And then I remember the most important thing – that God loves us, no matter what. He is the only perfect.


Bible Verses and Perspective

I grew up in a fairly strict church environment, where I learned to feel much guilt and shame. Back then, religious education was about being damned to an eternity of hell fire while living in fear. Man, I am glad perspective has changed in the churches I attend today. They now talk more about God’s love. This brings to mind a verse I memorized as a kid:

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, and whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Why didn’t I focus on this verse more as a youth? You know, the part about how much he loved me – rather than focusing on the idea that I may perish.

A friend of mine and I got into a discussion about sexuality recently. The only comments I really have on this topic are that the ways and words have changed since I was a kid and it can be hard to keep up the specifics of the topic. However, I believe whole-heartedly that whatever our beliefs, people who identify other than heterosexuals should be treated with respect, just like everyone else. God says so.

In the New Testament, Romans 2 talks about people judging others – mostly that we are all fallible and God will be the one to judge each and every one of us. Verse 11 says, “For there is no partiality with God.”

I feel that Romans 14:1 also reinforces the respect point, “As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” And again in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Giving people respect is one form of expressing love. Focusing on the love aspect when dealing with people by using forgiveness, kindness, patience, consideration and compassion saves us… ourselves. Love. Saves. Us.

It’s simple math: God saves us + God is love = love saves us.

He loves us. What is more profound and awesome than that?