What if I fail?

So you know, one of the most frequents questions I’ve gotten has been, “What if you fail?” or “Are you afraid you won’t make it?

Man, failure has become so taboo in our “culture” aka social media or our exterior. We don’t want people to see us crash and burn. We’re honestly so terrified of what that feeling will encompass and what others will think of us-that we literally say no to so many opportunities.

Okay, here me out. There is a caveat. We’re not talking about crazy rash decisions that aren’t thought out. It’s not like I’m telling someone to go jump out of an airplane without a parachute.

But I am talking to you. Yes, you. And to me.

When I was younger I was so terrified of failing that I literally cried before tests because I didn’t feel prepared or didn’t have the time to study like I should have and I wasn’t going to get that A. Moms and dads little tip here: let you student get a ‘D’ or heck even an ‘F’ on a test-it will be good for them. They don’t need to be terrified of a letter. I mean seriously.

But honestly, I would have flat out anxiety attacks before tests or even some races. I didn’t realize this at the time-I was a teenager, but there were so many times when I had such irrational anxiety over failure. Heck I often made myself sick, no joke, I would get sent home sick with a fever because of certain situations. Fear of failure consumed my life for many years.

In fact, it kept me from pursuing a lot of my passions when I was younger. Okay, okay, I have always been a little fiesty and independent. I wasn’t afraid of making my own decisions, but these decisions were based of knowledge that I would succeed and often when things got too hard I pulled out.

Now you’re probably sitting there thinking. Okay, Jo, you run marathons, you’re tough and very good at persevering. In a race maybe (that’s only because my pride gets the best of me). But often in life when things just start getting a little too iffy, I run away. Literally. In my first year of marriage when I was seriously depressed, the one thing I kept thinking of is jumping in my car and driving far far away. Failure terrified me and debilitated me.

Here’s the thing. What I don’t get about social media is we’re all trying to put on this confident face that we got our crap together and we aren’t afraid of anything.

WHO WANTS TO HEAR THIS B.S.? I mean seriously, don’t we all just want a little reality in life. Like okay, I’m not perfect and YES YOU AREN’T EITHER!! SCORE! I’m not alone. Booya!

You know the people who most influenced me and made a mark on my life, it wasn’t the people like looked like they had it all together or who seemed fearless. It was the women and men I saw who let down their walls and showed me that they were in fact terrified, but kept pressing on, or you know what? The ones that even fell flat on their face. You know why? Because these people made me realize I’m not alone. That it’s okay to be human. Because guess what? YOU ARE HUMAN!

You know what my answer is to those who’ve asked me that question? “What if you fail?”

I will fail.

No doubt in my mind. There will be failure in my life.

But I’m sick of running from it. Because failure has taught me so much more in life than success. Man, isn’t it the hard crap we go through that teaches us stuff? Isn’t it the stuff we go all in on that shows us what’s important? Isn’t failure an opportunity to pick yourself back up and try again?

Failure is not the goal, but it’s not the enemy either.

The biggest failure I could have in life is not going after the life I feel called to live. To me the ultimate failure is not living.

Dreams will change friends, but the journey is important. If your dreams are only success, then guess what? You probably won’t have much. You’ll be paralyzed when you fail and won’t get back up again to succeed. But as you grow, as you learn from the failures, let them teach you. Let God guide you to the lesson he wants you to learn from that failure.

If there is one thing I want to tell parents, especially after working in student ministry, don’t make life too easy for your kids. Let them fail. Let them get back up again. Stop protecting them from every little thing. My parents were honestly great at this, my perfectionist personality was not. But moms and dads let your kids fail and you know what? Let them see you fail. Let them see that life is not perfect for you. Expose your kids to hard things. I know I’m not a mom yet, but trust me when I say this: let God be the one to pick them back up, but let them stumble so he can. If they never fail, they will never understand their need for a savior.

The more I learn and dig, them more I’m understanding what biblical humility is. Is not this low pride or thinking of oneself as lesser than, but it’s understanding our humanity and understand God’s deity and how they work together. We are in udder need of saving, but if we never experience pain or failure or disappointment, then how do we know we are need of a savior? I am human. Man, I will make mistakes. I will fail. I will fall. But I have a GOOD GOOD GOD who is there to pick me back up and show me the way. A God who won’t leave my side and who will make all things work together for my good.

Okay, maybe now I’m sounding a bit preachy. I’m a passionate girl.

I am terrified of failing, but I’d rather fail than never try at all.

So be prepared. I’ve already failed one race (this last half) and I will fail many more, but my failures don’t define me. Jesus Christ has already given me my worth.

Jo Butler2 Comments