“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss, yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:20-23 NLT
“You have 15 minutes for a pity party and then it’s time to move on.” These words were the bane of my existence when I was a teenager. They came at me often and made my turmoil seem so much greater. They made me drop the curtain on my dramatic damsel in distress one-girl show and focus on how I was going to get out of my situation. Ugh! This let loose my internal hysterics.
These words were uttered from my very wise mother. But in those days I wanted the entire world to hear how I had been mistreated, misjudged, and misunderstood. I wanted someone to agree with me that my life stunk, that no one ever understood the challenges I faced as a teenager, that being a middle child I was doomed to be average.
My sisters and I chuckle now when we discuss this with our mother. And I do remember how mad it made me, but I see the wisdom in her words now. My mother’s childhood was challenging and didn’t leave time for wallowing in self-pity. So to her self-pity is a waste of time. Nothing gets accomplished when we are rolling around in our yuck like a stinky pig in her sty.
But life is filled with yuck. And getting out of it can be so difficult that staying where we are seems like the safest bet. I know because in the past I’ve stayed in the pit and prayed a ‘woe is me’ prayer to God for stretches at a time.
Too often we define ourselves by our yuck. We label ourselves as bad instead of a good girl who made a bad choice. We see ourselves as failures and are certain everybody else is judging us as such.
But failure is a part of life.
Almost every biblical character that most people can name by heart made huge mistakes in their journey with God. Abraham fled to Egypt, lied about his relationship with Sarah, didn’t wait for God to give him a child and yet still became the father of the nation of Israel. Moses murdered an Egyptian, disobeyed God by striking a rock, but God used him to bring the Israelites back to their homeland. David committed adultery and murder but after all that was still called a man after God’s heart. Peter denied Jesus, was hot tempered and questioned Jesus’ motives, and God used him to become the rock of the Christian church.
We are going to fail. No question. But it’s how we respond to failure that determines our success.
It’s okay to grieve when something doesn’t go as planned whether in life or business. It’s natural for our hearts to hurt when someone damages our reputation or uses piercing words to wound us. It’s necessary for us to have the opportunity to get closure when something we’ve worked hard for disappears without a trace.
In Lamentations 3 Jeremiah writes that he will grieve over his loss.
But he also hopes. He dares to hope in God and His faithful love, believing that God makes all things new, celebrating that God’s mercies are new every morning.
Even in the midst of challenging circumstances we can believe that God can make something good come out of our yuck.
The promise that we are not alone as we walk this life changes the way we look at failure.
Failure seems to have a negative connotation and yet I believe that failure only happens when we dare to try something new and different. Failure is a stepping-stone to success. And many times we are one step away from victory but we give up just shy of it.
And failure is not an adjective that describes us. Too often we slap that label on us and let it define us. We walk into a room and say, “Hi my name is Failure. Would you like a list now of all of my mess ups or should we wait until later?”
God made us and declared us good. We are defined by a living and loving God of second chances who refreshes us each day with a new start.
Would you join me in giving yourself a fresh start each day? Do you dare to hope in the promises of God and His faithful love?
You have fifteen minutes for a pity party and then it’s time to move on…to greatness.