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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Do you wallow?

"Your attitude towards failure determines your altitude after failure." (John C. Maxwell) How many times a day do you fail at something? You meant to keep your mouth shut about something that should have never been spoken, but alas...those words escaped. You meant to take care of that piece of pending work, but it seemed the hours slipped right on by before you could turn your attention to it. You planned to spend "quality time" with the family, but you were saying your good nights long before you realized. You thought you'd start that exercise program today, but the hotter than expected weather made a good excuse to delay until tomorrow. We have innumerable opportunities to succeed, but probably many of these opportunities pass us by, getting categorized in the "failure" pile of our life's choices. What we do with the failures makes all the difference with how we will deal with the new opportunities that come our way.

The Lord is kind and merciful, patient and full of love. The Lord is good to everyone. He shows his mercy to everything he made. (Psalm 145:8-9 ERV)

Since we all fail (some in greater degree than others), it is important to know how it is we are to "handle" our failures. It is important to realize God doesn't see any failure as "permanent". Each failure becomes an opportunity for grace in our lives, when confessed and allowed to be a place for his hand to change us. If we ever get to the spot where we think our failures are "too many" or "too big" for God to actually forgive, we are looking at our failures much differently than God does. He doesn't see our failures - he sees our possibilities. This is why he made a way for each failure to be a launching pad for change through grace. 

We can wallow in our failures, much like a pig does in the mud and muck of his pen. All that does is rub in the failure! It takes what could have been a launching pad toward change and "grinds it in". The moment we wallow, the more we will see our failures as defining who we are. Pigs aren't trying to escape or be free of the mess they are wallowing in - they are content to just wallow. Pigs wallow because they don't sweat, and this helps to "cool" their bodies a little. Sometimes we wallow in our failures because it brings us some "relief" from the sting of the failure, but that relief is short-lived because it never fixes the core problem. Pigs have to wallow time and time again because they still haven't changed their ability to sweat! We have no excuse because change is possible - we just need to embrace it!

We can make excuses for the failure, but that does little more than discount the failure as "expected" or "tolerable". To make excuses is to attempt to remove "blame" from the behavior. We want it overlooked, but until we stop "tolerating" the bad behavior we are not free to embrace new behavior. Excuses don't really remove the blame - they just attempt to change the focus. Much like the pig who wallows to get some relief from the heat of the sun, the one who makes excuses is just looking for a little relief from the pressure of admitting they have failed. To admit failure is hard, but it is a necessary step toward admitting we may not know how to change our course! Just sayin!