Every day it seems I wrestle with feeling like a failure. You probably don’t have this problem. My plans don’t work out. I don’t achieve what I thought I could have. And then I don’t have time to post the appearance of success on social media so everyone else can think I have it together and they don’t.
Our social media connected world often gives the false impression that some people have arrived.
These people post all sorts of positive stuff all the time. They seem to accomplish so much. They are perceived as the experts in [fill in the blank]. It only makes it worse when we compare our life to what seems to be their perfect world.
No one seems to post about when their day totally spirals out of control and they stagger into bed feeling as if they accomplished absolutely nothing. Or when they stagger out of bed, only to be counting down to when they can get back in and sleep for more than five hours.
But that is where our faith gets tested and where it has the opportunity to grow the most.
I’m not saying I like it. Not at all. Sometimes I hate that faith is more of a process than an event. Right now, as I type these words, I am feeling overwhelmed at what’s on my plate and am already feeling like a failure for falling short in all of it.
Two Extreme Responses to Failure
In my experience, we tend to respond to this feeling of never being good enough with one of two extremes. We either conclude we are the only one who falls so miserably short all the time, or we think no one has it together, so let’s just wallow in the mess and call it authentic.
The first extreme leads us to conclude that we are all supposed to be perfect — so what’s wrong with me?
The second leads us to conclude that we are all supposed to be broken — so I have an excuse.
I don’t care for either approach, frankly. Because neither one moves us toward becoming mature FaithWalkers.
Our faith journey is a process — by design. God could have immediately transformed us to a place of perfection. He chose not to for a reason.
He wanted to cultivate a relationship with us. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need that relationship; we wouldn’t need faith.
I wrote about this more in my book A Story Worth Telling, but faith is a temporary thing. We need it here and now; we will not need it there and then when our faith becomes sight.
For now, the testing of our faith produces patience:
For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:3-4, ESV)
The Tension In-Between Two Truths
So as much as I may not like it, I must live in the tension between these two truths:
- I have not arrived at my destination. I will never be good enough. On this side of eternity, I will never be mature enough, complete enough, accomplished enough, kind enough, wise enough, or any kind of enough. Perhaps the most difficult pill to swallow is this: I will never meet my own expectations for myself.
- I cannot stay where I am. Change happens. Life happens. None of us can stay where we are without self-destructing. As Isaac Watts penned in his hymn, Our God, Our Help in Ages Past, “Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away.” We cannot stand still, no matter how much we may want to do so.
It is in this tension between the need to keep moving forward and the desire to stand still that our faith is grown.
If you are feeling like a failure, the problem may be in your perspective. That feeling may be signaling an opportunity to grow. Is there sin you need to eliminate? Are there habits that need to change? Are there relationships you need to restore?
Maybe you need to begin measuring yourself by another standard — Jesus. Because although I am not good enough, Jesus is.
And even though some days good enough doesn’t feel like it is enough, I can rest in His grace.
Embrace the Process
So for all you Christ-followers who feel like failures, know this: you are not there yet, and that’s ok. “All have sinned and fall short of the the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, NKJV). You have not arrived; you are in the process of being made complete.
You will be ok if you keep moving forward “while it is called today” (Hebrews 3:13, NKJV).
Acknowledge that you cannot make it on your own, that you will always fall short when you try.
Ask God to grant you the wisdom you need to respond the the trials He has permitted to come your way.
Then embrace the process of walking by faith in that tension between the here and now and the there and then.
And know that you are not alone on the journey.
Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home. — Isaac Watts
Question: Do you ever feel like you are just not good enough? What seems to trigger those feelings of failure in your life? Share your thoughts by clicking here.