“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ ” -2 Corinthians 12:9
Have you ever tried something new and feel like you failed miserably? I’m sure we can all relate to experiencing the humiliation of failure at different points in our lives. After a failure, how often do we say to ourselves, “I’m never doing that again?” I know I have certainly given up on many things in my life due to the pain of embarrassment. Failure feels horrible. The feelings of embarrassment and humiliation often make our insides cringe, and we would rather hide under a rock and lay low for a while. However, should we always give up so easily when we experience a major mistake? How can we ever achieve great skill and success unless we choose to try again? Life is full of blunders both small and large, and what we choose to do on the other side of embarrassment makes a big difference in the course our lives take. The path to success requires us to pick ourselves up, with great courage, and dare to fail again… and again. Do you allow embarrassment or humiliation to stop you from achieving your goals and dreams or do you press through to find success? I will admit shame, due to failure, has held me back for much of my life.
I have faced many setbacks throughout my life. Embarrassment, humiliation and ultimately shame, have kept me stuck in failure like quicksand… unable to move for fear that I would sink again. Other people’s opinions of me often reinforced these feelings. Sometimes in life, those who should be your biggest fans are your greatest critics. I internalized many of these criticisms and joined the crowd to become one of my own worst critics. Struggling with perfectionism didn’t help me either. Perfectionism is a ruthless ruler. No matter how well you perform a task or how great your achievement is, it is just never good enough. The bar is set so high, you never reach it. A flaw is always detected in a sea of beauty. You always end up focusing on the negative aspects of yourself and overlooking all of the lovely, good, valuable and successful qualities you have at any given time. You feel like you are not enough. Since you can never reach perfection, you feel defeated. Can anyone relate? I used to mess up once, feel embarrassed and give up… never trying again. When you experience enough failure, shame starts to cover you like a wet blanket, keeping you from rising to greatness. We will never be the overcomers God created us to be if we remain under the heavy cloak of shame.
Despite my many failures, and a period of trials and grief I call “the lost decade,” I decided to obey God’s leading to start this blog. It’s taken courage for me to try again for success, but God has guided me through the learning process with grace. His love has set me free from shame and perfectionism. The Father God has taught me how to see myself through his eyes, and he always seems so proud of me… even when I’m not proud of myself. He loves me simply because I am his child. The Apostle John says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are” (1 John 3:1). With this kind of love, who needs to stay hidden in shame? God is not ashamed of us. Jesus paid for our shame on the cross, so we can be free! Jesus is the only one found perfect, and if he lives in us, then there is no need to strive for worldly perfection. His perfect love satisfies our soul and fills us with perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3). Being set free from shame does not mean we will never feel embarrassment again, it just means it will never have the power to hold us back from success again.
On October 27th, I launched a brand new video podcast for The Overcomers. I have only done one interview before, so I was really nervous. I had never actually interviewed someone else on video. With a background in acting, I am used to performing, but this is different. An actor plays another character, which is no problem for me. However, in the podcast, I have to be myself. As funny as it may sound, that is really uncomfortable for me. Regardless, I knew I had to go for it. God prompted me to start it, so again I took a step of faith and risked failing. Because the technology and process of filming was new to me, and somewhat new to my husband, we were both learning as we went. The night I launched my first episode, we underestimated how long the video would take to upload to Rumble. I only had about an hour until the set launch time and thought everything was going smoothly. When we began the uploading process, I started to panic as I realized it would take hours to complete! I was humiliated! I felt like a total failure. For those who know me personally, running late to things has been a struggle my whole life, so this felt like more than I could bare. I was overwhelmed because I felt like everything I try to do ends up failing. I announced on social media that I would have to postpone the launch. I couldn’t believe this had happened. I cried out to God, and miraculously, the video sped up and uploaded in a fraction of the estimated time. Fortunately, I was able to post the video only one hour later than originally planned. I was relieved! I wish I could say that was the only embarrassing moment of this new podcast, but it wasn’t. As I watched the episode for myself, I was mortified. I’m not used to watching myself on video and I became hyper aware of every awkward flaw I possess. Certain behaviors stood out to me that were so embarrassing. I couldn’t believe this is how people see me when I am talking to them. I wanted to quit, crawl under a rock and hide. How stupid I was for wanting to do a show, I thought. These negative feelings overwhelmed me. How would I be able to show my face again? Thankfully, my friend reminded me of God’s grace and I found comfort in the arms of Jesus.
After basking in his grace for a couple days, the strong feelings I had slowly faded. I began to think of ways I could grow and improve for next time. I will not give up so easily just because it didn’t go as smoothly as I imagined it would. After all, who does a perfect job on their first try… almost no one! When we fail, we are not unattractive to God. In fact, in his compassion, he is drawn to us even more in our weaknesses. The Apostle Paul heard God say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). As a result, Paul bragged about his weaknesses. He wrote, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). How amazing is the grace of God! When we are embarrassed about our flaws, he draws near to us with the strength of his grace. When we are at our worst, he is at his best. Our failures and weaknesses make room for God’s strength, putting his glory on full display in us. Paul reminds us how “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Since God’s strength is demonstrated through our weakness, why would be ever let the fear of failure stop us from moving forward and trying again? With Jesus, we will receive comfort and move from strength to strength.
We will all face embarrassment, humiliation, shame or failure at times, but we can choose to overcome it in the strength of God’s all-sufficient grace. These negative feelings have no power to hold us down when we lean on Jesus. We can experience them as growing pains. They hurt intensely for a short time, but as we endure with patience, we experience growth. Psalm 30:5 proclaims, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Our embarrassment lasts for a moment, but the lessons we learn from it can last a lifetime. Let’s refuse to be defeated by shame and failure. Let’s pick ourselves up from the ash heap and dare to try again! What do you need go after? Maybe you need to make another call, pick up the guitar again, sign up for another class or write one more letter. Whatever it may be, I encourage you to go after victory and try once more. If you fail, dust yourself off and try again. You will not be perfect, but God’s perfect love and grace will propel you forward to achieve far more than you dared to imagine for yourself. His grace is more than enough. Take that step of faith and press through the growing pains. Together, we will rise!