Failure is a very Good Option

Do you remember the hilarious and fun rhyming children’s story Captain Bubblebeard? You know the one where the mom would take her boy all covered in dirt and gelatin dessert straight to the tub from digging grubs.   She would plop! slop! drop! him in a tub of bubbles so BIG she would have to dig to find him.  And suddenly out of bathtub, Captain Bubblebeard appeared with his weird beard that was a tad smeared.

Wait.  You couldn’t remember that one because it hasn’t been published.

Only rejected.

I wrote Captain Bubblebeard years ago and the kids and I talk about him like he is a real person (actually, he is and he is almost twelve now).  They just can’t believe someone wouldn’t love this book.  When I talk about writing, the only question on their mind is if Captain Bubblebeard will finally see print and if David Catrow or David Shannon finally agreed to illustrate it.

I keep my first rejection letter on a board of inspiration along with a list of brilliant authors whose work has been rejected.

It’s so scary to fail at something, isn’t it?

It can be embarrassing and disappointing.

On top of that, people are watching.  Then you are managing their reactions as well as your own and who needs a good tongue-clucking when the sting of failure is so fresh it still makes your eyes water?

I failed again last week.

I had to resist the urge to protect myself and erase all evidence (because it was in writing for all to see) so that I didn’t have to deal with the failure fall-out.  You know, that painful internal dialogue that makes you want to seek underground shelter:

‘Did I hurt someone’s feelings?’

‘People don’t get me.’

‘What if someone thinks I am bad at this?’

What if they are right?

These questions are torturous to a people-pleaser. And praying about it tearfully, God showed me immediately that I was to learn some things in this particular burning.

Things I am reminded about when I fail at something:

1)      What is my motivation?

2)      Where is my focus?

3)      How badly am I willing to work?

4)      Where is my identity anchored?

Last week, all of these questions had a fleshy bent to them.  I was spinning a 180 on Galatians 1:10.  I can’t please God and man, so, totally no offense…but I choose God.

I’m not trying to pass failure off as a candy-coated rainbow fart.  But the character-building found in the burning of failure is worth far more than that pat on the back.  When God calls us on a journey, the only thing we have to do is the next right thing.  And if this includes failure, and we are willing, this is right too.

There is also movement in failure.  We are trying.  Same script fight with your spouse?  Starting the same diet over and over?  Ideas keep getting turned down by your boss? Can’t meet the time you’ve set for yourself on that run?  Still struggling with that same hateful sin?

The only true failure happens when we quit trying.

Don’t get me wrong, success feels amazing (or I think it must).  But whatever that looks like and by the time we achieve it, we will be better at success for having a whole experience of failure that sets us up to have the character to match our calling.

So…how about you?  Are you failing at something?

My inspirational list of people who failed at something.
My inspirational list of people who failed at something.

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  1. Kristi | 9th Nov 13

    I get you. You get me. And I am so thankful.

    • | 11th Nov 13

      Me too, sister. Me too.

  2. Julie Minton | 10th Nov 13

    I miss your rainbow farts! Love the message in this! I chose God. That’s what we have to do and remember. ❤

    • | 11th Nov 13

      I sure do miss you.

  3. Stephanie | 17th Jan 14

    I read this aloud to someone and It had me choked up so at the end that I could barely get the words out. You make me C R A Z Y!! B 🙂

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