I failed publicly at something this week. That’s hard to admit, but since some of you probably received an email letting you know you wouldn’t be receiving your shirts, you already know it.
I tried something new. I thought it would be fun to design a shirt at a great price in some beautiful colors and invite everyone to order one. I’d watched others do similar projects and it seemed easy enough.
But mine failed, while others were successful, and it stings, more than a little.
I don’t like to fail. I’m not sure anyone does, but I have always chosen to do things that I knew were safe, where I wouldn’t have a reason to look foolish. I shy away from anything that might not work out, so I don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions or have anyone feel badly for me.
A few years ago – honestly, even a few months ago – I would have applied this failure personally. I would have seen “my shirt project failed” as “I am a failure.” I did it when I received all “no’s” on a book proposal that was sent out, so I can tell you honestly that I would have questioned my worth and my value, wondering if I was unknowingly making a fool out of myself with the words I wrote on this blog, or the work I did on social media. I would analyze relationships and wonder silently if I was failing at those as well – as a friend, a wife, a mother. I would start looking at my numbers or my eBook orders and comparing them to others who make success look so easy and I would debate giving it all up. I would hear my own voice loudly saying “See? You can’t do anything right.”
And while it hurts to watch something that felt like such a “sure” thing fail, my inner critic isn’t as loud as she used to be. She’s been slowly silenced over the the last few months as I’ve let myself try new things – and then watched as God blessed the projects that lined up with His plan for my life in this season. It’s only through trying and trusting God that my heart has learned to fail with grace. Not to throw in the towel or speak harsh words to myself, but to say “See? You learned so much!”
When I choose to stop trying to fit what God has created me to do inside a box that looks like what everyone else is doing, I succeed in doing good work for the Kingdom – even if the results look like failure.
“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” Galatians 5:1, MSG
I don’t know what makes your inner critic sneak out from her hidden places and start whispering, but I want to tell you today that you have been chosen to live a FREE life. Not one that is afraid to try something new, afraid to fail, stuck in a cycle of comparison or fear but a life that is free. We are set free! And now it is up to us to choose to break out of the chains that hold us back.
Did you notice that? In this translation it says “Never again LET anyone” – you get to choose. Fight your inner critic. Fight the lies of the enemy that tell you that you can’t write as well as “her,” or that your words don’t matter or that numbers matter more than people. Fight comparison and gossip. Fight perfection and just go do the thing God is calling you to do and trust Him to work out the details.
Fight to get free, and fight to stay free. Let’s take a stand, friends.