Friday, July 18, 2008

Failure

"When I fail in my duty, I readily acknowledge it, saying, 'I am used to do so ; I shall never do otherwise if I am left to myself.' If I fail not, then I give God thanks, acknowledging that the strength comes from Him." - Brother Lawrence, pg 22 in The Practice of the Presence of God.

Recently my group co-facilitator shared with the group that the woman who eventually invented Spanks (those shaping undergarments for women) was asked every night by her father while growing up, "What did you fail at today?" He did not think she was a failure, but rather understood that we are bound to fail at something every day and gave her the freedom to recognize it and move on, learning from mistakes.

For a recovering perfectionist like myself, this is a very powerful concept. I don't like failure and tend to dwell on even small ones. I don't like to be wrong, equating that will being wrong in who I am. It's kind of like I know that I'm not perfect, but I don't like to be reminded that I'm not. I don't just shrug it off and chalk it up to "better luck next time." I'm plagued by things I don't do well. I know, I need help! I'm working on it!

This is a big problem when it comes to my spiritual life, as well. I have a hard time embracing grace and passing it on to others and myself. Especially myself. That's one thing I loved about The Ragamuffin Gospel. Brennan Manning explained that those who know they are ragamuffins, prone to fail, prone to get dirty, but rejoicing in the King, they are the ones who can find joy in grace. They are the ones who really know how they stand before God.

There's freedom in admitting failure. It's humbling and sometimes humiliating. But it's easier than trying to live up to the perfectionistic standard. So I'm going to start looking for my failures each day. Hopefully I'll learn from them. And I'll also be learning to let them go. As Brother Lawrence said, what more should I expect? I know I can't do it all, so why expect it? I will enjoy God so much more when I recognize that all good things are from Him - even the good things it looks like I did.

1 comment:

Melody said...

I needed to read this today. I often struggle with the same feelings you described...a friend of mine chalks it up to me being a "first born." I dont know what the cause of it is, but I love your solution. I am going to begin looking for my failures daily and hopefully learning from them. Thanks so much for sharing this.