When Failure Echoes


Recently I did it again: I made a mistake.  To my mind, a fairly big one.

It’s not news to anyone that I’m pretty flawed. But those with a similar personality to mine will understand my next statement intimately:

It’s not the screwing up that is difficult. In fact, I can change course mid-stupid and not be incredibly embarrassed about it. For me, the damage is in the echo.  It’s the weeks (who am I kidding? months or years) of spontaneous recollection of my foolishness that is SO MUCH WORSE. There are dumb things from my teenage years that randomly return to torture me.

Here’s the thing. This time, I didn’t just stumble into my stupidity. I actually took my heart to the Lord and purposefully humbled myself there. I was careful to operate in all the resources and maturity I currently have. And yet, I still erred. This is the litmus  test of my heart: do I resentfully believe that He neglected to guide me? No. That is entirely outside His character and promise to me.

The awareness destination this brings me is one that only a daughter who truly trusts her Father can arrive to: It was for our (His and mine) good for me to fail.  The situation itself was FOR growth… calling me into higher levels of insight, trust, communication and maturity. Not only that, but the reverb of my weakness–by far the most difficult part of recovery–is an loving invitation to renew my mind.  To change how I think.

Paul reminded us that His power is made perfect in our weakness–even saying he BOASTED (huh?!?) in their open door to Christ’s power. Today, as I suffer under the punishing taunts of my embarrassed flesh, the Spirit is drawing near, encouraging me to embrace the beauty of weakness instead of to chase perfection.  Even as I wonder how my name might suffer, or how I might now be perceived differently, or frankly–how foolish do I now appear?–I realize how necessary it is. It testifies how profoundly I still protect how people hear my name.

In the past, embarrassment about my mistakes has propelled me into contortionist exercises, meant to protect and repair my reputation.  I’ve retreated, blushed, overcompensated, fretted.  I spend enormous amounts of time in self-punishment.

This time, my mistake–and the resulting personal humiliation–is a tool used to set fire to everything that once limited how He can use me.  I want to embrace it–this painful Option B–against every fighting instinct.

You see, I’ve been on this mountain before.  (Hey look, there’s my footprints from last time, natch) I’ve noticed that the Lord is so committed to my growth that I will circle these lessons, over and over, until I finally surrender to them and embrace what He’s longing to teach me.

Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. – Ps 46:10

Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. – Ps 46:10 NASB

Literally translated (in my best effort), that means:

Let go.
Show your slack
Relax, sink down, let drop, be disheartened
Know by experience
That I AM GOD.
I will be raised, be uplifted, be exalted
Set on high
Among the nations, in every people and country.

Or as my dear friend Leslie simply puts it: Fail, and know that I am God.

Even here there appears a simple tie between our imperfections and the open opportunity for the fame of the Lord.

The beautiful freedom in boasting in our weakness, showing our slack, and allowing ourselves to truly encounter the Perfect Father’s revelation within those most embarrassing places is today’s cry of emancipation over me (and you?)  Made free of everything that limits our willingness to be fully revealed, and to fully reveal Him.

May we continue to circle the mountain of failure, round and around again in our journey of becoming, until we are no longer afraid to surrender upon it.  Take my hand on this one, Jesus, and guide me past my bruises and embarrassment into the deeper places of Your heart.  I am willing.  Brave here? Nope, not yet. But willing and surrendered?

Finally, yes. Gulp.

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