Hope Inside the Failure
Nobody likes to fail…especially over and over again. That’s probably why there are so many old sayings that try to encourage us when we do fail…
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
If you fall off the horse, you gotta get right back on.
Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. (OK…that one was just for giggles)
Turns out, I have a problem with failure. I get stuck in the thought that because I fail, and fail repeatedly, I should just stop trying. I hold my breath and close my eyes as I admit this to you: I struggle with food addiction. For most of my life, actually. Crash diets, binge eating and a liberal amount of self-condemnation have been applied. Big surprise! All of these just made it worse. It’s been a struggle, for sure. And I’d really like to say I am all better now. Because then, I could end this story all warm and fuzzy-like. But…no. The struggle is real and is still going on. Just recently, I let God help me stop this behavior for a while and I felt better, both physically and emotionally. But then life happened, in the way it sometimes does, and I slid back again. Back into failure. Again. When it comes to changing my heart and my addictive habits, I was starting to think I can never be anything but a failure. The hard part comes when I lay my head down at night and pray, I can sometimes hear a whisper of hope that God can help me overcome this. But tears come when my first thought is a defeated one: “I can’t bear to fail yet again, God. I can’t disappoint you…or me yet again. I just can’t.” Ever feel like that? If so, hang on. Hope is coming. Hope arrived for me in the shape of this story and God is using it to teach me about hope. On a bright summer morning, a dad took his little girl to the park to play. This little toddler loved to play in the sand box; Digging and rolling around in the cool sand and squishing it between her toes. As the dad watched her play, he heard the sweet tunes of an ice cream truck driving through the neighborhood. What a great treat that would be for his little sweetheart! As a bright colored boxy truck pulled up to the curb, this loving Father called to his little girl to come; He had something special planned for her. As his little angel turned around, he saw her mouth full of sand! Even as he reached for her, she was stuffing more into her mouth as if it were candy. He had such a wonderful treat planned for that little mouth but it was so full of the crunchy grit, there was no room for ice cream! This is me! Stuffing myself full of what is clearly not good for me while my Heavenly Father has delicious plans prepared. I just roll around in my mess, blind to the hope God’s plans will bring. All because I had given up. How about you? Do you see yourself in that little girl with a mouth full of sand? Where in your life have you given up and just sat down in your mess, too afraid or maybe just too tired to try again? Here is the hope that God whispered to me through that story. Listen carefully, friend. Maybe He’s whispering it to you, too.
God loves me enough to meet me where I am, but loves me too much to leave me there.
Our story finishes like this: That loving daddy didn’t leave his daughter with a mouth full of sand. He gently took her by the hand and walked with her to the drinking fountain, washed her mouth clean and then led her to the ice cream truck. Then, that Daddy handed her the yummiest ice cream he could find and watched her eyes dance with joy; This is what he had planned for her all along. Even though I am still in the struggle of my own personal sandbox, I see hope. I will likely fail again, but I want to remember that with God there is always hope. God is with you my friend, right next to you, in your own sandbox. Trust that He loves you enough to sit with you in it — but loves you too much to leave you there. God knows that failure is not who you are. It Is not your identity. And it is not permanent. It is a temporary experience that comes right before we take God’s hand and walk towards His delicious plans. I want to send you off today with hope in your heart and one of my favorite scriptures in your mouth. Read this aloud to yourself as if God is whispering hope into your ear now: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) May you know the love of God even as you struggle, and may you hold on to the hope that God is handing to you. Shalom,