Nobody likes to fail, to let others down and disappoint. Especially a person like me who’s especially prone to people pleasing and perfectionism. I have this faulty device in me that says, “If I fail, I am not good enough and therefore, undeserving of love.” Not sure exactly where this comes from, but it’s there none-the-less.
The other night I made a mistake. I screwed up. I knew full well going into it I was hell bent on making a bad decision. I was operating in a rebellious streak. I wanted what I wanted and nothing was going to stop me.
But then, the next morning happened. You know, the day after regret. It sets in somewhere in the pit of my stomach and grows like a plague. I can feel the anxiety spread out through-out my arms and legs and finally into my throat. Once it reaches the top of my head, I’m sick with worry. My thoughts spin out of control, “what have I done? I’ve let so many people down, I’ve hurt people, God is going to be so mad! I’m gonna really see some bad consequences from this, he’s never going to answer my prayers now!”
Rushing to my bible…nope. That’s not true at all. I didn’t rush to my bible, or to prayer. I rushed to the couch and the t.v. hoping to take my mind off the impending doom that was sure to await me. But, by the miracle of miracles, the t.v. wasn’t working and I knew I needed to get to my quiet time, pray and hear what God had to say.
And speak he did!
“I create the light and the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.” Isaiah 45:7
“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” Isaiah 48:10.
And finally, from the study notes in my Celebrate Recovery bible on Samuel 8:18-20 “God may even allow me to have my way so he can show me the ultimate folly in it.”
Did you catch it? Do you see what this means for all of us imperfect creatures wandering around cloaked in failure? I didn’t at first, because all I saw were words like FIRE, FURNCE, BAD TIMES, FOLLY.
But through a little more prayer and coffee, this is what I saw:
God allows suffering to refine us.
God allows sin to show us the folly in it.
God allows bad times to grow us.
I made the mistake, but it doesn’t mean God didn’t allow it. Just because it hurts, doesn’t mean it’s not from God. Not only is God NOT condemning us, disapproving of us, or any less in love, he allows my weaknesses and failures so that he can use them to build my character to match my calling.
Three things I can stop doing in light of this remarkable truth:
- I can stop being afraid of “bad things” happening. God is ultimately in control.
- I can stop beating myself up, living in shame, regret and guilt. I can allow the mistakes to make me better and transform me, because God has appointed this time for growth. He knows I’m ready for it.
- I can stop performing and striving. There is no such thing as perfect. God does not expect perfection, in fact, he doesn’t even allow it! He will use this weakness to refine me, because perfectionism is a weakness.
I am going to fail, mess up, stumble, tumble and fall. God’s character is good and he loves me like crazy. He didn’t make a perfect creature, he made me. I’m so grateful for all the ways he’s gifted me, and I can rest easy in all the failures too.