Failure can either defeat us or make us fight harder.
My parents thought it was weird that I kept every grad school rejection letter. They watched me mourn over every no until the last few when I started asking “now what?” While some might see this as self-deprecation, I saw it as powerful motivation. As discouraged as I felt at the time, I knew I didn’t want those no’s to define me.
I cried often. Vented more. Found odd jobs to make money. And kept pursuing.
Professors told me it was unrealistic – no one would want to read the content I wanted to write. “You’re a good writer, but you’ve got to change your content.”
Family friends told me to quit chasing a pipe dream and grow up.
A potential employer expressed her disappointment in me when I stuck to my morals instead of compromising for pop culture appeal.
In the safety of my home, I grieved. I wondered if I had missed the mark, if I shouldn’t pursue this dream. I wondered if these people were right. After all, some of them were telling me these things because they didn’t see me succeeding and desperately wanted that for me. I kept pursuing my dream. At times, I rested from the pursuit trusting the Lord in the midst of the questions and struggle.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
Even when I began pursuing other options, options I would have been good at and had a passion for, He led me up to the doormat of each opportunity and then firmly closed the door in my face, leaving me with more no’s. I am a firm believer that it is okay to ask God the tough questions. I asked Him “why?” very often. But know what His response always was?
“Do you trust Me?”
If I’m being honest, the answer to that question often involved the very word I had grown to hate. NO. What I really meant, though I wouldn’t acknowledge it at the time was, “Lord, move over. I know how to do this. I have a better plan.” As I continued to face rejection, my tune began to change as I saw His hand orchestrating details I never knew to touch. My answer slowly shifted to: “Yes, Lord, I trust You no matter what.”
I won’t sit here and tell you empty platitudes. If you are in a season of no and why, you will have to wrestle through your own situation to see God has plans for you, better than you can imagine. All I know is this…when the Lord presents situations that offer the opportunity to trust Him more, take them. One step of faithfulness at a time.
Discouragement is not of the Lord. Don’t let it win. Failure is a tool to push us closer, help us trust Him more, develop character, perseverance, and hope. Hope that this world isn’t all there is. Hope that all our striving ends in glory and not in heartache. Hope that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).” Did you catch that last part? Bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. His faithfulness doesn’t mean we get what we want. It DOES mean that He is faithful to fulfill the plans HE has for us in HIS timing. Our job is to align our hearts and plans with His and move forward IN FAITH.
Failure can breed a fighter who trusts the Lord even more. I fell a few times, acknowledged the pain, stood slowly, raised my head, and jumped again. Every time, I grew stronger. Every time, the Lord developed character in me, the heart of warrior that trusts in the One leading me to glory. In that, there is purpose.