Learning to Fail- How Owning Our Mistakes Can Be Our Best Witness

To whomever it was that morphed “adult” into a verb, I applaud you enthusiastically. The evolution of language at its finest.

“Adulting” has come to encapsulate all those tasks and responsibilities we didn’t have to do as kids. Paying bills, doing housework, ruining our kids’ lives, those all fall under the broad definition of “adulting.”

That being said, my friend told me one day, “When I was a kid, I used to think adults knew what they were doing. Then I became an adult, and I realized they don’t.”

We are all making this up as we go.

Maybe not you. Maybe your job is cut-and-dry and your relationships are textbook material.

Probably not though. And if they aren’t, maybe you have noticed what I have noticed: I spend a lot of time failing. I say the wrong things all the time- to kids, husband, friends, family. I make plans for a day that completely fall apart. I over-discipline and under-discipline. I attempt musical arrangements at rehearsal that flop. I try to harmonize, and blast imperfection.

That is what I do, I fail. For those of you who fail too- you are my people.

Sure, there are things at which we don’t want to fail.We don’t want to misappropriate our time and miss out on our kids’ lives. We don’t want to neglect our spouses, or other relationships. We don’t want to forsake the gifts of God and waste our lives on the things that don’t satisfy. Those things are big deals.

But what about the little things?

I have one daughter who especially loathes being wrong. It bothers her more than the others. She cries angry tears: angry at me, angry at herself. It is her personality, and it is a red flag to me to remember that this girl may need some extra lessons on failing fantastically. On forgiveness. On resilience and moving on.

So in the midst of telling her, “It is ok to fail,” I have to demonstrate it in my own life. I have to fail publicly and show her that my flops aren’t beyond God’s forgiveness; that good can bloom from any situation if we just let God use it for His purposes.

I have to demonstrate my confidence in God by laughing at myself.

Maybe you need to hear that too. We all mess up (even that friend with the pristine, obedient, successful kids). That’s reality and it will all be ok. God has it under control. Mistakes are not infractions logged on our permanent record. Mistakes are evidence of our need for the God who forgives and who can literally handle anything. LITERALLY.

Trust God and extend yourself grace today. It really makes life easier. Then think about that person in your life who commits mistakes that annoy, or even harm you, and forgive.

Can we broaden this definition of adulting? Let’s invite God to redeem it so that it becomes a word of well-fought victory and the triumph of grace, because that is what it truly is. Happy adulting, everyone!

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