Inspirational Thought

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 7:13 NIV

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Impact of the Perception of Failure

This week has been full of progress, both on the freelance writing and editing side and on the networking side for Meaningful Messages. I have started work on the website, have designed business cards, have planned a whole slew of encouraging gift ideas.

Then I read the above blog post, Rising Again, by one of my favorite devotional writers Renee Swope. I have always been one to deliberately remind myself and others to count their blessings, to see the positive side of things. But, yesterday morning, I had a hard time digging myself out of that negative hole that I sometimes find myself in.

I left a comment and subscribed to receive follow-up comments on her blog post. I was astonished at how prevalent the feeling of failure is among women. (I know it probably is in men, too, so these thoughts could apply to you--even if you won't say the words out loud.) There is so much going on in today's world, on top of this economic downturn. Not only are people losing jobs and homes, people are losing or being rejected by family members. People have completely lost hope.

I struck me how even when the circumstances that we find ourselves in are not related to anything we've done, we consider ourselves having failed when things don't go our way or the way we'd hoped. Often, these circumstances couldn't be helped. We have no control over the decision the boss makes. We have no control over the decisions of the banks. We have no control over the decisions our children make--we hope they will make their decisions based on what we've taught them, but there's no guarantee of that. But still we blame ourselves for all these things having fallen through.

There are many statistics that show the impact of the loss of a job. It is even more profound than the loss of a loved one. Having a job, a house, a car, 3.5 kids with a white picket fence around the property has been the epitome of success and when those idyllic things don't happen or crumble into pieces, we think we've failed.

In God's eyes, we are not failures. I realized this, yesterday. Our Tuesday morning Bible study involved a guest speaker from within our church who supports Gospel for Asia. We watched a couple of DVDs of people who had been transformed by the message of the Gospel. People who find their food in dumps and live in disease-infested sewers of Asia. The running theme was that they didn't know they were loved. They didn't know they mattered. Once they were told that someone did love them, and that they did matter to someone--didn't really matter who--their perspective in life turned around.

For many of us, our entire lives are spent in the pursuit of the perfect job, the perfect house...and when we don't attain them we don't believe we're worth anything. But, that is not true. The way to discover that truth is to turn our attention away from these strivings and focus on something else. God has a purpose for us and is always trying to teach us. One of these things is that money doesn't last forever. Spending ourselves into debt with no possible way of paying it off doesn't work. And, no matter what our circumstances there is someone who loves us unconditionally. That love is not based on our success, but is a love that can change hearts when they're at the very lowest they've possibly been. These times are not times of punishment, but are times where we can learn that what we've been doing doesn't work and things need to change so that we don't find ourselves in this situation again. It's painful, yes. It's certainly not pleasant. But, if we stop learning, we stop living and if we close our minds to the lessons around us we risk repeating the same mistakes. One day, hopefully, we will be able to look back on this time and the lessons we've learned and realize how far we've come. We will be better people, mothers, fathers, teachers, leaders, writers, editors because of it.

So long as we are learning from our circumstances, we have not failed!


Kimberley Payne said...


Thanks for the reminder that we are not failures and God loves us unconditionally. Some days it's harder than others to remember this important truth!


conarnold said...

Darlene, thank you for sharing this important reminder! We as people have strayed in our thoughts of what it means to be a success, and we need to remember that if we love and seek God always, we are not failures.

DOakley said...

You're both welcome. It's the perception that we've failed that's the most damaging to our self-esteem, not that we've actually failed.

It is so important to remind ourselves that with God, there is no failure, and we have to adjust our thinking to see what God sees, not what the world sees.