A few weeks ago one of my classes spent the day reviewing for our first big test. My professor's review strategy was to give us each a marker and have us, one by one, walk to the white board and answer a question. Honestly, it was terrifying. As a perfectionist, I was paralyzed by the idea of writing the wrong answer on the board. What if I failed? I didn't want to mess up in front of my whole class, but I couldn't avoid making that walk to the board.
As each one of us was called to the board, you could see the hesitation in our steps. We all laughed at ourselves, and our nerves were definitely entertaining, but a bit of the tension broke when our professor strongly stated, "You may fail boldly."
I'm a perfectionist and I hate failing, but the truth is that I fail all the time. Failure is a part of life and I've figured out that it's important to learn how to fail well. If we embrace failure, we can learn from it, which is always a better option than letting it knock you down. It's possible to learn how to fail, and they can't be learned all at once, but today, as a person that fails often, I'm going to walk you through them.
Ignore Your Pride
Here's the thing: pride ruins lives. When we allow ourselves to believe that we're above failing, it makes the experience of failing that much harder. Pride tells us that when we fail, we should be ashamed. It can often produce anger and bitterness at the situation, too. When we listen to our pride, we hear lies about ourselves and our experience. Pride tells us that we are alone in our failure, that it's something no one else has experienced, which isn't true. Don't listen to the lies that pride tells. When you fail, choose to lay down your pride and ask Jesus to show you His heart in the situation.
Be Thankful for the Experience
It's so easy to think that failing means that an experience was wasted. Maybe you come to the end of a season, a project, or even a friendship and it doesn't work out the way you wanted to. In that situation, it's easy to think that the whole thing was just a waste of time, energy, and whatever else you put into it. But, with that mindset, you miss out on any and all lessons that you could have learned. I've learned some of the most important lessons of my life through experiences that ended in failure. We are shaped by all of our experiences, whether they're good or bad, and it's wise to give thanks and learn from every season.
Celebrate Your Bravery
This one is simple (in theory). I often believe that failing means that I can't be proud of myself. If I failed, then I'm a failure, right? Wrong. When you fail, choose to be proud of yourself! Celebrate the bravery it took to try, friends. It's unfair to skip over your bravery. Love yourself well by admiring how brave you were for trying. Don't beat yourself down.
Don't "Should" Yourself
Like I said earlier, I'm a perfectionist, so a lot of thought goes into almost everything I do. So, when I fail, one of my first responses is to go back through and make a list of the things I "should have" done. These lists can go on forever and they often lead me into a trap of lies and make me angry at myself. Learning to break my habit of telling myself what I "should" have done so I wouldn't have failed has been really hard, but really beneficial in the long run. When you fail, love yourself well and avoid the "shoulds" and life will feel lighter.
Depending on how you failed, moving on can either be really easy or really hard. No matter what, though, it's important. I'm a professional dweller, meaning that I am really, really good at holding onto grudges, failures and a lot of other heavy things that aren't so fun. It's important for us to allow ourselves time to process our failure, but it's also important for us to move on in due time. If we hold onto things, it makes it hard to experience new things with a fresh perspective. Failing hurts, but we have to move on, friends.
In the end, we have the chance to turn a failure into a really cool lesson. God tells us that He is for us, and in my opinion, that's all we need. Who we are is secure in Christ and no amount of failure can change that. So next time you fail, remember who you are, learn from it, and move on.
Here's to failing, learning, and stuff