How I Fail at Failing: A Perfectionist’s Confession
I’m a “B” is a “F” kind of girl. Failure isn’t found where other people find it. It’s found in the slightest imperfection, or even a simple mistake.
This hasn’t served me well because, as you can guess, I’m not a risk taker. Some people might laugh at that as I’ve picked up and moved to countries where I didn’t speak the language, got married at my engagement party to the surprise of all my guests (on April Fool’s Day no less), and finished multiple degrees.
Ah, but risk is in the eye of the beholder. Those things weren’t risk to me. Looking back, maybe they should’ve been. Perhaps they would be today. But they weren’t then. If they were, I wouldn’t have done them.
I have a laundry list of things I quit or never even started because the risk felt too great. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t do great at those things, so I just left them in the dust.
Of course, I didn’t tell people that was the reason. I’m not stupid. My friends would’ve called me out on it. Instead, I had very legitimate reasons like I was too busy, it would take time away from something else, or I didn’t feel “called.” Most of the time, I didn’t even admit the real reason to myself.
But, God. He knew.
So, He’s called me out to do something new, something that doesn’t resemble my projection of who I am, and where I could possible make a “B” (or gasp, some letter even lower in the alphabet).
I feel like I could throw up. All those sayings, like “An ‘F’ isn’t really failure because failure is a part of learning,” are not helping. I’m sitting in the corner with a stomachache and nightmares over a simple decision that is actually low-risk to all rational people.
I am so wanting to Jonah this situation right now. I have my ticket to anywhere but Ninevah all ready. And, I know I have the freedom to quit. I can even give you all the GOOD reasons I should. Reasons that no one would fault me for.
But, God. He knows.
There is no freedom in quitting this decision. When I do, I choose the fear of failure that has shackled me to shame my whole life.
But, God. He frees.
He calls us to obey in what seems like a small thing but opens up a Pandora’s box of gunk in our hearts because He wants us to live free. He wants to point out our blindspots and then help us get past them.
Obeying today is important too because it helps us with the next step and the next.
“The one who obeys God’s instruction for today will develop a keen awareness of His direction for tomorrow.”
― Lysa TerKeurst, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands
So, God asks me to do this. A small step of obedience and a death to myself.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:23-24
I often think of this cross I should be taking up as some big thing like moving to another country to be a missionary, or even crossing the street to be a missionary. But today, this cross is to crucify an inner sin, like pride.
Because let’s admit it. It’s my pride that keeps me from failing. It’s my pride that has me turning down things that look high-risk. Failure is a part of life, and it doesn’t kill you. I’m missing out when I give up on things I’m truly called to do because they seem iffy.
So, I’m trying. To obey. To risk. To look for His approval over others. To define myself as His child. To redefine failure.
To stop failing at failure and live.
What verses have you used to help you if you struggle with perfection? I could use more truth and less lies in my life right now. You too?