The Gift of Failure
“You’ve worked so hard”
“you deserve it, God will bless you ”
“do your best and God will do the rest”
So, where have I been?
I have been here, untangling the knots. Untangling the idea that God’s love means He will carry you to every success. Shaking off every ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’.
My disease; these spiritual half truths that reeked of the prosperity gospel, that left me in need of the true physician.
I heard them all so often. Perhaps my failure meant the opposite; that this was my fire and brimstone.
I write to you today, seventh year, not as Dr. Boughdady, but in the knowledge that God loved me so much that He let me fail.
The struggle from bitter to better, from self depreciation to self compassion, that is leading me through a journey of acceptance, so that the image, or who I ought to be, can greet who I really am.
“by the grace of God I am what I am” 1 Corinthians 15:10
“One of the greatest dangers in the spiritual life is self-rejection” – Henri Nouwen
To acquire the mind of Christ means to learn to see myself as He sees me. Sometimes, we think that if we beat our chests hard enough, if we beat ourselves up hard enough, it will make us humble. But, the truth is the opposite. The truth is, real humility is actually recognising who we really are. It is the courage to hear a greater Voice call us His beloved, His successful sons and daughters.
Above all else, failure has been a gift; a very revealing gift. Acquiring the mind of Christ means recognising in the mirror the woman who met her suffering with bitterness and despair. I had read many spiritual books about suffering that I expected to wake up joyful the next morning. But this is no synaxarium story. I found that I was not all who I thought I was; “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind” Ephesians 41:4, and that I was literally tossed by this wind.
So failure has been a door, a door of repentance, so that He can recreate me from the ashes of this fire.
“we must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us” – C.S Lewis
Failure helps us shake off the veil of perfection, that we may stand honestly before Him. Failure allows us to grow in compassion for ourselves and for others who are struggling, because we remember how hard things have been for us.
“Joseph was with God and He was successful” has never rang so true, because often we focus on the gift and not the gift-Giver. In the story of the wedding of Canaan we rejoice at the new wine, but we completely miss that in providing the wine Christ was declaring Himself to be the Bridegroom, full-filling the messianic prophesies in Hosea, Songs of Solomon and Isaiah.
If I have the courage to see myself, I will learn to recognise Him in me.
If I have the courage to relentlessly stay with Him, to not run from Him, that makes me successful.