At dance class the instructor intervened several times with helpful tips. Close to the end of the class he approached me and told me I just wasn't doing it right. "What's wrong? Why can't you get it?"
I was back in grade nine algebra with the teacher using similar words. What, indeed, is wrong with me? If you don't know and I don't know, then we are in dire straits. Maybe there is something "wrong" with me. Just as in grade nine, I realized at this moment that everyone was looking at me. And at my abysmal failure. As in grade nine, the floor didn't open up and swallow me. Thankfully, with maturity has come the ability to endure to the end with a modicum of dignity.
I awoke several times in the night with a swirl of thoughts and emotions to process. Being a less-than-great dancer isn't a big deal. The response, however, was a clue to something significant.
Fast forward a few days and I find my girls are frequently shrieking in frustration at their brother and I'm repeatedly scolding him for tormenting them. The poor boy needs some better weather so he can burn off his energy outside. In the wake of all this chiding, he sidles up to me and asks, "Do you still like me?" And then, "Why?"
In that moment I recognize that it's in times of weakness and failure that our identity is assaulted. Who am I? Stupid? Again? Failure? Bad?
Knowing who we really are is the key to getting through these rough waters. By "knowing" I mean that you've spent so much time pondering and meditating on it, that it's what bubbles to the surface in difficult times. Being anchored to truth doesn't mean that we won't be tossed about, but it does mean that we won't be shipwrecked.
What sort of tapes play in your head when you recognize failure? What does your Papa say about you?
"...I long for him (my darling child) and surely will have mercy on him." Jer. 31:20b
"My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9
"For God has said, 'I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.' So we can say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?'" Heb. 13:5-6
Secure in these truths we can venture into life boldly risking vulnerability and failure.
I've sometimes wished to reduce God to a fairy god mother who would magically wave a wand over my life and render everything perfect inside and out. He provides so much more. He offers to walk with us, picking us up when we fall, and lending His strength. All the while we grow from strength to strength and from glory to glory.
"I love you, Lord; you are my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock,
in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.
I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me.
The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path.
But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears."