Sometimes, failure is a part of God’s plan. Long roads, bumpy paths, and absolute disasters can be necessary steps in the process. I can say this with certainty because I’ve failed at a few things only to come back to the ruins of my hopes to find that God has breathed again and life can rise from the ash.
I started this blog, Accordant Life, (Why Accordant?) two years ago. I wrote consistently and intentionally. I worked to grow in my craft as a writer and communicator and felt certain God was drawing me toward a vision He’d put into my heart nearly a decade before. As I gained momentum starting to truly connect with and serve an audience, I also prepared to have my third baby. I researched the best practices for taking leave from a blog, lined up guest writers, prescheduled social media posts and thought I had things neatly buttoned up. Then real life happened.
Our little guy was born with a milk/soy protein intolerance that went undiagnosed for 5 months. He couldn’t sleep or rest without intense help. At one point, I was dedicating nearly 9 hours a day to trying to put my baby to bed and unknown time overnight with 3-5 wake ups each night. You guys, I was a mess. I couldn’t think; I couldn’t put together a reasonable day or make plans. I was in survival mode. It took us almost six more months to get our little guy sleeping regularly with only minimal help from mom or dad.
My life hijacked my writing and speaking plans, and, although I reasonably and rationally knew I’d done the best I could, I felt like a failure. I felt like a failure. This blog, which had once been my creative outlet and burgeoning joy, had sat virtually abandoned for more than a year. Circumstances and sound thinking aside, I had a hard time feeling like anything other than a failure.
In response to the self-doubt that began to brew, I thought about finding a new idea or other avenues in which to somehow pursue my calling. I thought about connecting with others only through social media and deeming that “good enough.” I thought about just quitting altogether. After all, I’m a mother of three young children, and no one would question me and my full plate.
Instead, I decided to begin again. I would stay with the vision God gave me for this space and chase after the message He’s invited me to share. I rejected the taunts of failure and chose to release judgement and criticism – from both myself and others. I decided to rise up, to put pen to paper and, thought it felt like great personal risk, to dream again.
Your hopes are probably different than mine. Your longing may be for marriage or a family. Your heart might crave community or deeper friendships. Maybe you want to start a new business or change careers. Some of you might secretly fantasize about going back to school or adding another child to your family. For some, there are responsibilities or relationships in our lives where we’ve simply given up.
Maybe disappointment and failure in your past have closed the door on those dreams. Vaults have slammed shut with such force that you were sure they’d been sealed forever. And yes, sometimes, doors are closed for good, but sometimes, God asks us to wriggle our fingers into the cracks and pry them open again. If it’s His Spirit prompting you to begin again, He will lend His strength to your efforts.
Jen Hatmaker says in her new book, Of Mess and Moxie, that “creating is a synonym for perseverance.” The Bible tells us that struggle and suffering lead to endurance and that enduring our trials builds character, which teaches us to hope. When we move past failure to stand back up and begin again, we learn to hope and that first tiny spark will fan flames He lit inside us long before time began.
I don’t believe that God gave my son a painful, frustrating condition in his first year of life in order to teach me something about blogging. I don’t believe He wants to me to feel like a failure. I do believe that He knew I needed to feel the deferment of this dream and the heartsickness it gave me. He knew the stifling of what He’d started would bring me new passion, new discipline and new commitment. He knew I needed an obstacle; He knew I needed it to be harder. I needed it so that it could be better.
Don’t make the mistake of getting stuck in your feelings of failure or the events that may have landed you there. Sometimes, the only thing that’s gone wrong is that we have failed to try. Many are those who go to their graves lamenting and grieving a dream that never left the quiet of their minds. These things are a part of our stories, but we get to choose whether we let them bury our longings under layers of fear and judgement or whether, perhaps, we will choose to believe the truth.
We can choose to believe that God we are not in this place of unfulfilled passion by chance. When we cling to Him, our plans take the form and shape of His dreams for us. He did not plant those longings within us simply to taunt and tease. He built us, His masterpieces, to create and imagine alongside Him. He finishes what He starts and, sometimes, He invites us to be a part of the process. You are safe to believe that the thing you think He’s beckoning you toward is part of His plan for you. He will get us where we need to go.
Finally, look inside. What feelings swell in you as you consider unearthing that lockbox inside? Anxiety? Excitement? Fear? Hope? I’d like to leave you with three points to ponder. These points are my constant refrain these days, and I promise that they pack a punch:
- Fear is a liar. No one can promise you what the outcomes may be, but if your heart longs to paint or write or build or innovate or connect or explore, you can trust that the Lord will put good purpose to it – purpose that is good for both you and for His kingdom.
- God enables that which He ordains. He didn’t create us to hold onto nagging hopes just to teach us a lesson or to disappoint us. When He calls you to it, He will help you do it.
- You can do hard things. I tell this to my children and, often, I tell it to myself. Such a simple truth of His might and His strength and His faithfulness leaves me so easily and repeatedly changed. I forget. I’m not doing this alone. And with my heart set on His path, I can do whatever it takes. And so can you. You can do hard things. I can do hard things. We can do hard things, and we can do them together.
Don’t let disappointment or a failure in the past defeat a calling born into your very soul. Lay fear aside. Choose courage. Choose hope. Begin again. You’ve got this, and He’s got you.