This may seem surprising to many who know me but there have been many different periods in my life were I struggled with feelings of failure. I always felt as though I didn’t measure up and I wasn’t good enough. I felt as though I wasn’t doing enough to make an impact.
The most recent of these seasons was when I first moved to New England and had just become a youth pastor. There are so many things about that season of life that was hard for me. I was struggling to gain a voice, to trust myself again and to see that God could use me. God lovingly placed me in a job that both challenged me to become myself and cushioned me as I tried and sometimes fell.
Almost three years ago life shook for me. I was transitioning out of my job and God was calling for me to step down. Step down from a church that was going through turmoil. To walk away to an unknown future both for myself and for those around me. Mostly He was asking me to trust those I loved and cared for in His hands even when it didn’t make sense.
My youth group at that church had always been small but I had seen God show up in some mighty ways. At this very moment three girls from that youth group are in bible college and I am amazed at the women of God that they are. God was faithful in it all AND YET I walked away feeling like a failure and have carried that with me for the past few years.
Looking back at that season and that transition was hard. I struggled with being able to reach out to those girls because I felt as though I had failed them because I had left. I prayed and I loved them from a far but my heart ached.
But thankful, if we press into Him, God doesn’t want to keep us in those places. And while I have wrestled with those feelings of failure God has been doing a deep work in me. A work based on understanding that if I did nothing but come to Him, that would be enough. That I don’t have to try and “succeed” but instead if I just love Him, love others and follow His lead then I am following Him in this life.
God began to dig up that I had always felt like a failure because I was always trying to live up to and earn His lavish gift of grace for me. I was trying to pay God back when I didn’t need to.
And as God has shown me this trying to succeed for Him part of me He brought me back to this period. This time of feeling like a failure and quietly said,
“You only failed at living up to your expectations. To me you did not fail, you did all I asked of you.”
And in one simple statement all my striving and my hurt and my failure melted away. I had done what God had asked of me in both the staying and the leaving. It had not looked as I had expected or wanted but I had been faithful to follow my King.
Often our view of failure is based on our own expectation and desires. I wanted to leave that church with everything tied up in a bow and better than when I arrived. But I left when God prompted; I left and had to trust He knew and cared for them more than me.
“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success.” Proverbs 3:5-6
We all deal with feelings of failure at times. Are you willing to allow God to show you the reason why? Sometimes we have failed and we have to get back up and try again but sometimes, our failure is only not living in reality.