Permission to Fail (how experiencing failure can lead to success)

Renee Ann Smith —  July 20, 2012 — 36 Comments

Today I gave myself permission to fail.

It was more painful than I thought it would be. Why? Because when people view me with approval—maybe tell me I’m a faithful servant or hard worker or good friend—I really like that.

But here’s my guilty secret: I’m a sinner. I fall short. I let people down and drop the ball and hurt the ones I love . . . and think thoughts I’m glad only God can see. Those aren’t just pious words I say to sound humble. They are self-truths I utter through tears because that’s who I am.

Have I brought you down? How ’bout some good news? My top 3 reasons why I believe experiencing and acknowledging failure can lead to success in the Christian life.

ONE: Failure empties me of pride. Mostly I don’t have much experience with “BIG” sins. I hold a down job, attend church, give to charity, don’t cut other drivers off on my 45-minute drive to teach at a small Christian school. (See how I wrote that to make myself sound good?) It’s easy to think pretty well of myself. But that self-righteousness hardens my heart.

Failure reminds me of all that lies behind my façade and forces me to peal it off. Failure makes me real.

TWO: Failure fills me with compassion. In the past, I’ve watched Christians I had admired fail at important tests in life. I judged them harshly. I wondered how they could have made that bad choice or fallen into that temptation. Though they sought forgiveness and restoration, what they had done lingered in the back of my mind.

But now that I’ve been striving to live the Christian life for thirty-five years, I realize why LIFE is included in the Romans 8** list of troublesome things that will never separate us from God. Life has a way of grinding away at us, doesn’t it?

I’ve fallen too many times to count. And not in private. In front of my friends. In front of my family. And even in front of my students.

Now I understand the strength it took for those folks to start again. I thank God that He allowed me to see that mature, real, growing, ministering Christians can survive failure. Because that gives me hope for me.

THREE: Failure renews my appreciation for God. God loves me no matter how many times I fail. He loves me in spite of what He sees in me. He just  . . . loves me. Incredible, right? And I would not have been convinced of this had I not experienced His tender mercy and forgiveness right after a miserable failure.

I’m so glad God is my perfect Heavenly Father. He never wavers, never falters, never weakens, never falls short, never disappoints. He’s never not enough.

He never fails me. He never fails you. Oh, let that truth bring us to our knees and ignite the fire of thankfulness in our hearts. Amen.

This week I’m linking up with Monday Musings, Your Thriving Family, Spiritual Sundays, Soli Deo Gloria, Sharing His Beauty, Playdates with God, Seedlings in Stone, Just Write, Gratituesday, Teach Me TuesdayGood Morning Girls, and Hearts 4 Home.

**Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor LIFE, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

36 responses to Permission to Fail (how experiencing failure can lead to success)

  1. What a powerful article with much needed truth! How often we don’t want to admit our frailties and failures for fear of being rejected by loved ones, and by God. But it really can lead to success….once we learn the lesson that comes with it. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. It’s much easier to judge others when we see them fail than it is ourselves. I agree with you. We all fail and failure can sometimes be a good thing. Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. I agree completely with your post. Failure does not feel good, but it has its purpose. I left a very brief post about failure on my blog.

    • I had fun visiting your blog, Melissa. You’ve reviewed some great books, and I hope folks take advantage of your giveaway. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on failure here and with your post. Blessings!

  4. Rejoicing in our sufferings and failures is absolutely what helps us grow stronger in our Christian walk with God. Bless you for this great post.

  5. Renee,
    What a wonderfully transparent, honest post. Beautifully said. We often feel that “we” have to be perfect so that “we” are “good Christian examples.” But, you are right regarding the pride factor. When the “we” becomes too big the emphasis is on us and not on the Lord. We become self serving in our piety. Praise the Lord for failures that bring us to our knees at His feet asking for forgiveness. Praise Him for restoring us and loving us anyhow. That is definitely a message the world needs to hear. He is the God of unconditional love. He never gives up on us. Thank you for this post.

  6. Failure is something that no Christian escapes, and is something that produces a characteristic that God desires in us – humility. Great post. Blessings for the coming week

    • I see by your post on humility that we were thinking along the same lines, Sharon. Your post encouraged me. And I enjoyed the pics of your garden on the About Me page! Blessings!

  7. What a wonderful reminder! I’ve never been good at handling failures. It brings me down so bad that it is hard to stand up again. But God keeps giving me comfort in all those times! Thanks for sharing this! =)

    • Viviene, I can relate to being so defeated that’s it’s hard to start again. But we’re fortunate that our God does comfort us and help us get back on track. Thanks for sharing here. Blessings!

  8. This is an excellent study on failure. Certainly one I’ll bookmark for future use. Too many times I view failure as negative. I love the last one–I am so thankful God never fails in spite of the times I do.

    Blessings on your Sabbath.

  9. Renee Ann, you have some rich insights here. Failure is such a hard thing for me and many of us to swallow, but it really is a blessing in disguise, isn’t it? Thanks for eloquent, concise and helpful words of encouragement here. This is one of my favorite posts of the day! 🙂

    • Thanks for your kind words, Beth. I learned from your post as well. Your insights about marriage can apply to many relationships. Thanks for taking time to comment. Blessings!

  10. It’s so true that failing can make a person more compassionate. I think that’s part of why people can become more compassionate as they age, but maybe it’s also what explains why children are sometimes so compassionate. They try so hard to do just the most simple things right, and they know how it feels to fail at tying their shoes, writing their name, holding a cup without spilling, etc. Maybe we lose that memory as we grow up, and then regain it as life kicks us around a bit.

    • Good theory, Melinda. It makes sense to me that children and old people would feel more keenly that they are inadequate and fragile. While we often linger in denial . . . Congrats on your book! Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. Blessings!

  11. Great insight! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  12. Wonderful post. Thanks for always inspiring me and making me think.

  13. Three good helpful reasons.

  14. Wow! I clicked on this because of a) the beach photo, and b) the title. What a blessing and encouragement I found in your words. Even better than a trip to the beach!
    (Although now that I look at the bigger photo, something about it suggests “stranded” more than “trip.”)
    Visiting from SDG.

    • Hi, Michelle! I tried to leave a comment on your blog post but couldn’t. Not sure why. Anyway, I enjoyed your sleep-deprivation song. Very cute. Hope you get some relief soon! Thanks for the visit. Blessings!

  15. Wow, Renee, what a terrific post! I’m blessed by it. Failure does cut down our pride, and if we don’t allow Satan to steal from us, it will bring us bac to how amazing God’s love and mercy really is. I am so thankful that God doesn’t see my faults when he looks at me, He sees the righteousness and blood of Christ. 🙂

  16. This post is beautiful! God has taught me a lot about pride and how easily it is found in my life. Thanks for encouraging people and letting them know that sometimes it’s okay to fail in a society where that’s deemed a no-no.

  17. Renee,
    Beautiful words. Thank you for your honesty.



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