I have learned that just because I have failed in my eyes does not make me a failure in God’s. I know this sounds so elementary. This is the stuff that children’s Sunday school lessons are made of. Yet, it is something that, painfully, I have wrestled with as an adult over the last few months.
Six weeks ago, I stepped down from a job, a role that God asked me to take on a year ago. A job that I went into with no technical experience, no pedigree, and certainly no confidence. Yet it was a position that I prayed to God about taking and knew with certainty that He was leading me to.
So off I went, armed with humility, excited nervousness and a hands-up attitude. I spent months and months learning the job, the day-to-day and the new environment of my daily life, but more importantly I got to see a community form. I got to see God be the biggest in the smallest moments of life. I was able to see amazing grace poured out to each other amongst those I worked and served with. I was able to meet some incredible disciples of Christ that supported me and sustained me at times.
But something changed.
I was drowning in the job. I was drowning in my expectations of myself and then those around me. I was feeling trapped, weighed down, lost, and at times buried alive. At first I wouldn’t acknowledge these feelings because I felt like that would be a failure. So on I went. I truly believed if I changed this….if I worked on that….if I spoke to this person that I could pull out of this state. It wasn’t the case. I began to become paranoid about my work and other’s thoughts towards me. I fought all of this. I fought it hard. I was manned with the sheer stubbornness of productivity and the misguided thoughts of “But God called me to this!” When things didn’t change, I got angry. Really angry. I was angry at myself and those around me. The result? There were good things happening at work but not within me. I was suffering. My family was suffering. My relationships were suffering. Over time it led me to completely collapsing within. So early on a Thursday morning, I walked into work and quit a role that I was sure that God called me to take on.
Oh the freedom it gave me.
But it was temporary.
What ushered in after that moment was sadness and then the guilt for being sad. I chose to leave this job, for Pete’s sake! I was depressed and sad over the entire situation. The “If I could have”s began to come. Then the “If I had only”s. Then the thought, “God, did I hear you right in the first place?” And before you know it, I was wrapped up in thoughts of failure. I thought I was mourning the loss of contact with those I served and spent time with, when in fact I was mourning the failure of my expectations. Expectations that I would succeed. Expectations of how my life would go. Expectations of who I wanted to be for God.
You know the funny thing about the word failure? It doesn’t exist in my NIV Bible. I know because I looked. I looked in a moment of seeking God’s word to pour over my wounds. This is what I did find.
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished. - 1 Chronicles 28:20
I will maintain my love to him forever, and my covenant with him will never fail. - Psalm 89:28
But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail. - Isaiah 51:6
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. - Lamentations 3:22
Love never fails. - 1 Corinthians 13:8
I found words that talked of God’s presence, promises, righteousness, goodness, and love never failing, despite our brokenness, our mess-ups, our failures. We are all wonderful and fearfully-made creatures that are prone to fail. We cannot help it, though try as we might to avoid it.
So if you find yourself sitting beside a grave of failure, working through the stages of grief for yourself, look up. Get up. Move out. And rest in the knowledge that though you might have failed your expectations, God most certainly does not view you as a failure. He sees you as His son and His daughter with whom He most certainly loves and calls His beloved, His treasure, His child.