Proud of what LOOKS like a Failure

Has YOUR failure ever turned into someone else’s success?

Have you ever tried to run a marathon and failed to finish, but the very fact that you tried, inspired others to start getting physically active?

Have you ever pushed to get a promotion, only to have someone come in along side you and say, “If YOU can make that much money, I can too.”  You actually don’t get that promotion, but the other person does?  Somehow what turned out to be your failure, turned into their success.

Ever since, we adopted, I’ve seen this effect in play SO many times.  We have 7 children in all now.  When one of them makes a good decision, it clearly has a ripple effect on the other six.  When one of them makes a bad decision, the others relax because they feel as if the bar has been lowered.

My children, can even affect my husband and me.  Their positive actions challenge us to do better, to strive harder, to make sure we’re taking the lead as positive role models in our children’s lives.

A small example of this, was when our 21 year old came in from a run last night.  She doesn’t run on a regular basis, so we definitely took notice when she came in all sweaty with her gym clothes on.  My husband sat there for a few minutes, and said, “Ndolo, if you can do it, I can do it.”  So he asked if I wanted to go out and run.  I opted to stay comfortably on the couch.  But then, my husband came inside all sweaty too.  There was a certain bounce in his step that said, “I just did something good for myself.”  Five minutes later, I got up, put my exercise clothes on, laced up my tennis shoes, emerged from the bedroom and said, “If you did it, I can certainly do it too!”

All of this, based on ONE person’s SINGLE decision to go out and run.

Another larger example of this is when I recently applied for a fairly good paying job that was significantly out of my comfort zone.  When I got to the third and final interview, my husband publicly announced that if I make THAT much, he should be making more.  So he applied for a few jobs.  Oddly enough, he ended up getting a phone interview at the SAME place where I applied.  They didn’t even call him in for an in-person interview and yesterday was his FIRST day, making a 50% increase in salary. (O.k. maybe we’re just a competitive family?)

Long story short, I did not get the job.
But my efforts, inspired my husband’s actions.
What turned out to be my failure, inspired my husband to success.

(On a side note, I was disappointed that I did not get the job, but I’m thankful for the insight into the power of our actions, EVEN when they don’t turn out to benefit US directly.)

What about you?  Maybe you try to be a better Christian.  Maybe you work really hard to be an example of Christ.  Perhaps everyday you try to help someone who is down and out.  Maybe you try really hard to keep your life pure and free of temptation.  Maybe you’ve fallen.  It could be that you consider yourself to be a miserable failure spiritually.

Sometimes, I worry about what “unbelievers” think of me and I feel like a fraud, because I keep failing.  My life is not a victory.  They see me fall.  They see me get angry with my children and nurture roots of bitterness.  They hear me talk about God’s love, but sometimes they see me mistreating my neighbor.  And I think about giving up.  “I’m failing at this thing.”  “Why am I even trying?”  “Is this path that I’m on, really even a path to ANYWHERE?”  “I’m knocking, but someone keeps slamming the door shut in my face.”

I wonder if perhaps I’m doing more harm than good, when I share my faith with my children, yet turn around and undo all my words with my actions.

But, just maybe, my spiritual failures are inspiring someone else to spiritual “success.”  Maybe the fact that they see me “trying” to do right, will actually inspire them to try too.  And maybe they will make it to the finish line!

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0 thoughts on “Proud of what LOOKS like a Failure”

    1. Thank you. I really thought I responded to your comment, 2 days ago, but I guess I just responded in my mind?? Thank you for continuing to revisit my blog. It is a great encouragement, as I love reaching others with words. Hope you are doing well.

  1. I hope my lack of success inspires other to succeed. I can’t remember anything in my life right now that I consider a success – and I am old. So this is my one hope for fruitfulness in life. Kathryn and I made a joint decision when we were first married that we would not seek financial success or to have careers, and I suppose we have succeeded in that. Though if Kathryn’s pursuit of the priesthood is a compromise of that decision, I am glad we didn’t follow through in that case. I think of Paul saying “God’s strength is manifested in our weakness” and maybe this is part of what you are saying here.
    God bless.

    1. Yes. Thank you for reminding me of that verse. I have swings, high and wide, between trust and doubt. One moment, I believe that God’s strength really does make meaning of my weaknesses and the next moment I doubt, and worry more about what people think of my weaknesses that don’t apparently bear any of God’s glory yet.

    2. So if your gift is to write, and you are writing….then it is God who will bring the increase. The story of the “talents” in the New Testament always amazes me. Jesus was kind of harsh on the one who buried his ONE talent, for the safe-keeping. It seems clear to me in the passage, that God requires SOME sort of return on His investment in us. If you write, if you publish the insight that God gives re: His Word, you NEVER know when those seeds will take root!! It’s just a matter of your words falling on good ground. I pray that your words will fall on good ground. I have shared your site a few times on Twitter. Do you have a Twitter account? Perhaps, you could create “Caleb’s Eye” and use your book cover as a background and then publish bits of your book on there. (I will do this for you, if you are interested) I believe that “perspective” is very important within the scope of God’s Kingdom. Not everyone will SEE things in the same way. Some of us interpret. Some of us provide the lens! And some of us reflect on existing interpretations. The title of your book is an exact symbol of what your book seems to be, “a very specific lens through which someone can look at Scripture to begin thinking about it in new ways. Someone doesn’t need to agree with everything you say, but the book seems to be a very useful tool in sparking thought. On a side note, I’m thinking about starting a nonprofit– repository of works (musical, writing) of which are already published, that I promote for free. I would not own any “rights” to the works (as that is not my passion) and I would not manage the financial aspects of packaging and delivery, but I would offer promotion within an appropriate ‘society’ context, I would offer product polishing, or brand refinement as an addition to the book’s existing presence in the marketplace. I would be working to “spread the seed” more widely, so that there is a better chance of it taking root. I would not be interested in making sure that each work is EXACTLY theologically sound, because I’m NOT a theologian, but I would want the work to point Godward…that would be the main criteria.

  2. Thank you for your kind remarks. And encouraging. I am convinced that I ought not to do marketing per se, but just let God do with my writing whatever He chooses. Not that it is easy to let go. I do not even know what Twitter is, though of course I have heard it mentioned. You are dealing with a 20th century guy here – i.e. a century behind. But I will look into it.

  3. Enjoyed this post! Struggling right now to process the failures of the past decade, but who knows? Maybe my failures positively impacted someone else in a way I can’t necessarily see right now… I want to get PAST the feat of failure & the fear of what others think about me. Easier said than done, but I think it’s necessary!

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog again! I consider that a success on my part. 😉 (for me) I think that getting of the fear of what others think about you should probably be a higher priority than getting over the past. You KNOW in your head that EVERYONE who ever succeeds FAILS many times first. Just keep plugging along. The funny thing is…that when you DO find whatever your idea of “success” is, you would think those same “people” you feared before would then be happy for you and embrace your success as a positive. It won’t happen like that. You’ll still have to deal with/process what people think of you! All of our efforts are like puzzle pieces that we’re struggling to put together. We know what the finished product is supposed to look like, but we’re struggling with the big picture. Nothing seems to fit together yet. Our “tries” seems just like a jumbled pile of really intricate puzzle pieces. Let’s finish the puzzle before we die! 😉

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