Fearless Failure

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.” –2 Timothy 1:7

What is your biggest fear?

Think about it…what scares you?

Are you scared of snakes? Spiders? Heights? Are you scared you won’t be able to provide for your family? Job instability? Financial insecurity? Are you scared of the bullies that degrade you? The men that hurt you? The tears you may cry? Are you scared of injury…what about death?

Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. Everyone is fearful of something. No matter if you are a 300 lb. lineman, a 3rd grade ballerina, a 57-year-old business man–or anyone in between–we all face fear. When I sit back and think about the things that have scared me over the years, I can’t help but notice a pattern. Whether directly or indirectly, all of my personal fears are linked to one topic: failure.I think the majority of our fears are rooted in the same thing–the fear of failure.  The fear that we will let down the people around us, the fear that the people around us will let us down, the fear that we will let down ourselves.  So many things are so very scary…

When I was very young, I was haunted by the fear that I would be kidnapped and hurt. Granted, I grew up in the early 90’s, an era when child abductions hit the media like a firestorm. To make matters worse, my parents went to church with John and Patsy Ramsey, the parents of JonBenet Ramsey. For those of you who don’t know, the JonBenet Ramsey murder was one of the most publicized unsolved murders of our time. JonBenet was 6 years old. I was 7 years old. When a 7 year-old hears things on the news and sees her parents so emotionally invested in the tragedy, it is hard to wrap your head around the complexity of the situation. So, my mind only went one place–I am next. The “bad guys” are coming for me. Almost nightly I would have nightmares that I would be taken and that nobody would help me or find me—that my parents would fail at protecting me.

Through my young schooling, I was fearful of getting bad grades.  I wanted to be the best that I could possibly be, and I wanted to make my parents as proud as possible.  I have always been a perfectionist, and I have always been competitive.  I was reared under a sister who was brilliant–literally, a borderline genius. (This is a girl who was kicked out of her second grade class for arguing with her teacher that negative numbers did, in fact, mathematically exist and that the teacher was incorrect in teaching the other students that 5 could not be subtracted from 3. Seriously? I was the kid that was kicked out of my second grade class for sniffing glue, getting dizzy, falling backwards out of my chair and hitting my head on the whiteboard. Haha. This is also the girl who would play “the classroom game”  with me when we were little and try desperately to teach me about exponents and exponential factors…I was 6. She couldn’t understand why all I wanted to do was dance to Spice Girls when there were derivatives to learn!) To say the least, we were very different, but growing amidst her brains and my competitive spirit, it fostered a desire in me to be better, to be smarter, to be the best. And, later in life, any time I failed and didn’t do as well as I know I could have on a school assignment—I failed myself. And, in my eyes, I failed my parents.

Fast-forward through a decade or so of fears and failures. To list all the times I’ve failed would take another decade, so I will simplify by saying that I’m a failure. Aren’t we all? And while my fears and failures molded and shaped me, the worst was yet to come. For the sake of saving time and space, I will not rewrite my testimony (you can read back in the “My Story” portion for details) but I will share with you my most epic fails.

In high school, I feared non-conformity. I feared a lack of control, and I feared judgement. I feared food. I fell into an eating disorder that crippled me, consumed me, defined me. In highschool, I failed myself.

In college, my father failed me. My hero, my best friend, my everything. He feared…he failed…and he fled. On January 3rd, he put a gun to his heart and pulled the trigger. In college, my father failed me.

That year, I feared the pain I felt. I tried everything I could to fill it. I drank, I partied, I lost myself. I feared the darkness and I feared the weakness. I failed to hold my own head high. That year, I failed my innocence.

Later on, I feared for my own life. I failed at driving. I wrapped my Jeep around a tree and feared I would never be saved. I choked on blood and hung broken and battered. On that drive, I failed myself.

Between those points and since that time, I’ve failed and failed and failed.

How do you recover from a life defined in failure? How do you emerge from a life constrained by fear?

We will FAIL constantly. Others will constantly fail us. We will fail others, and we will fail ourselves.  The people around us will fail, circumstances will fail, expectations will fail. You will fail at reaching goals, your friend will fail at supporting you when you need it most. Marriages will fail. Job opportunities will fall through and fail. The stock market will fail, the government will fail. Your boyfriend/girlfriend will fail to provide you with the love you need. You will fail at filling your emptiness with drugs and sex. You will fail tests, fail deadlines, fail budgets. We will slip, and we will fail.

BUT GOD NEVER FAILS.

In the days of my youth, God comforted my worries.  He worked through my parents and protected my heart. God Never Failed.

He calmed my worries over grades and school. He blessed me with the desire to persist and to learn. God Never Failed.

As I battled with bulimia, He clung tight to my body. He protected my health, and nourished my soul. God Never Failed.

As I stared at my daddy’s lifeless body, He wept alongside me and lifted me up. God Never Failed.

As I battled depression in a drunken stupor,  I gave pieces of myself away to boys. But God fought for my purity like a relentless warrior, and though I was battered and broken, He held my virginity with poise. God Never Failed.

As I hung upside down and choked on my blood, He appeared to my heart and found His way in. God Never Failed.

I tell you all this to inspire your hearts! Life is hard. So hard. And we’re really bad at it. We are fallible humans and we mess up constantly. We fail and we fear. We fear and we fail. But as it says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus Christ DID IT! He came and He lived so perfectly. He never failed. And He never will fail. He died for you. He died so that you can ALWAYS be given new life! So that you can ALWAYS start fresh, clean the slate, and turn a new page.  As he hung on the cross, your fears and your failures were nailed to the cross alongside Him! When we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, we accept a spirit of POWER and LOVE and SELF-DISCIPLINE! We welcome a spirit of forgiveness and grace and second chances!

We serve a God of second chances…we serve a God of LIFE! Alone, we are nothing. We are failures and we are bound by fear. But in CHRIST, we are infinitely strong! We are indestructible! We are SAVED!

What is there to fear?!

At the end of my days, I don’t want people to say that I lived a fearful, timid life. I want them to say that my spirit was POWERFUL in Christ, that I LOVED like Christ, and that I was SELF-DISCIPLINED through Christ.

How will you be remembered…?

Advertisements

What Does It Look Like?: Godly Men (part 3)

(…picking right back up where we left off. If you are just joining, read part 1 and 2 of this series before reading this portion. A continuation of 1 Timothy 3:1-7…detailing what it looks like to be a Godly man…)

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach…

…faithful to but one wife,…

Read these 5 words again. Now read them a third time over. The depth of these 5 words could fill the pages of an endless novel. Be reminded, these words are Divinely inspired. These are the Words of God. God is calling man to be faithful to but one wife. Turn to 1 Timothy 3:2…it is right there in black and white. Seems simple enough, right? Ha! You don’t get off that easy, guys. You would be doing yourself a great disservice to simply skim over this passage and take these words at face value. There is much to be learned from these 5 telling words.

There is a MASSIVE difference between a Godly man’s call to leadership BEFORE marriage verses AFTER marriage. In order to understand this passage, you have to dig back and first understand that distinction. Unless you are married, you are “single” in God’s eyes. It doesn’t matter if you are dating, it doesn’t matter if you are in a relationship, it doesn’t matter if you are engaged. Until the day that you and your Divinely designed partner take a vow of unity before God, you are SINGLE. Don’t cringe. Being single is an absolutely beautiful thing.  This society makes “single” seem like some type of disease.  If people hear that you are single, their first response is this muted sigh and pitiful face. Haha, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Their ingrained reaction is to feel pity for you–the forehead wrinkles, the mouth twists into a side-smirk, the first words that roll of their tongue are typically, “Aw man, I’m sorry to hear that.” or “Really?! I never would have guessed…” Heck, occasionally you’ll even get a sympathetic hug out of it. It’s actually pretty entertaining to watch people and see the timeline of thoughts that roll through their minds. Step one: the feeling of sympathy. Step two: they comfort you, as if to assure you that someone will eventually love you someday (haha). Step three: *this step is typically marked by a little glimmer of excitement in their eyes* they recognize that you are most DEFINITELY in need of their match-making services. Step four: the hunt is on. It becomes a mission to find you someone to love. Haha, now maybe I am biased, as a female, and describing mostly how other females react. I feel like in the guy-world they hear that you’re single and the typical initial reaction is a high-five. Afterall, now you’re a perfect wing-man candidate. And now you can bang out all the chicks that you want, right? You’re free to do whatever you want. Or may they feel a little bad for you because you’re only gettin’ it from your left hand. No steady lay. Isn’t that how it works? HA! The humor lies in the truth behind those last few statements.

But there is absolute power in being single. This society typically stamps “single” with a negative connotation. Synonyms include: unattractive, unlovable, desperate…or in my case, VIRGIN. haha. But the fact of the matter is that we should celebrate being single! The label shouldn’t carry a negative connotation, it should carry respect and admiration. Why? Because in God’s eyes, prior to marriage, you ARE single. Single in your walk with Him, single in your pursuit of faith. That is exactly how He intended it. He is SO jealous for your love and SO jealous for your growth in Him, that He yearns for you to be utterly and completely in love with HIM before you ever get wrapped up in another person.  Remember the quote that I shared with you all a while back?

“A woman should never pursue a man. A woman should pursue a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. In turn, God will inspire the one man, designed perfectly and  specifically for her, to pursue her heart. And in his pursuit of her, he too will be drawn closer to Christ.”

Guys, do you get what that is saying? There is no guess work in your end of the deal.  You may not admit it, but I know that men desired to be loved just as much as women do. And so often, single men grab any woman who will give them the time of day in order to create that synthetic love. In order to feel wanted, and to feel that control over another’s emotions. To feel that ingrained desire for leadership. But just stop. Take a breath. LOVE GOD. God yearns for your absolute love. Luke 10:27 tells us to “Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind…” If you can strive to do that…if you can genuinely seek that love, He will hand you the woman you are intended to marry on a silver platter in HIS timing. He WILL provide for you the woman who will change your life.  The woman who is designed from you and for you (think back to the Adam and Eve reference from the last post.) You don’t have to search desperately and turn every rock and leave a tattered wake of women behind you in your quest to manhood. You are called to live above that temptation. You are called to train yourself in your single life. Train yourself to be a Godly man. Grow in the Word and dig in the Truth and then APPRECIATE, truly, the magnificence and beauty and grace in the perfect love God presents to you in the form of your perfect wife. Man, powerful stuff.

I’ve so deviated from my initial point that it’s nuts. Haha, sorry, sometimes I just get rolling. I told you there was great depth to those 5 words. Anyways, the reason I talked so much about the glory of single-hood is because your role as a leader in your single life is to do exactly what I mentioned above. Grow, personally.  Train yourself, biblically. Strive to know Christ more. Strive to love Christ more. Strive to better yourself and prepare yourself to be a Godly man and a Godly husband–having unshakable faith that God is preparing your future wife in the same way. And recognize, that beyond a shadow of a doubt, your walk is entirely independent with Him. You are called to be a Godly man and to lead by example, but if you are not married, there is an INCREDIBLY fine line as to how much you can lead a woman. Men, the explanation of that could fill a whole other blog post. I encourage you to find a strong, male, believer who can better counsel you in the details of this principle. But, to put it quite simply, your walk and her walk MUST remain entirely distinguished and separate until the day you say “I do.” It doesn’t matter if you have been dating a girl for 10 years. You’re walks are NOT intended to intertwine while you are single.  You can lead by example, but it is not your place to become her spiritual leader or spiritual teacher. That can become a messy situation when you intertwine unmarried love with spiritual guidance. A VERY messy and misguided situation.

With all of that said, your role as a leader completely and utterly changes when you say the words, “I do.” Now, we will look deeper into the specifics of marriage at a later time, but, for the sake of this transition, let’s look back at the book of Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:24 explains marriage very poignantly in saying, “That is why a man leaves his father and his mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Woah, say what? One flesh? Yes. BOOM. There it is. The Word of God. The reason your commitment to become a Godly man and a Godly leader is SO important–when a man and a woman are married, they literally become ONE FLESH in God’s eyes. Their separate walks and united and intertwined. They are viewed as a unit. As one singular flesh. As one entity. Man oh man, men. Do you get what this means? You are called to be FAITHFUL TO BUT ONE WIFE (finally linking it back to the initial scripture). Why is this? Because in God’s eyes, when you are married, when you can call a woman your WIFE, you both are ONE FLESH.

Take a look at your body. You are one, whole flesh. If you were torn about a decision–for the sake of a decent example, let’s say that you are torn about taking another job–would it be possible for half of your body to rip away and go complete that job, while the other half of your body stays your current career? Could your torso go be a coach, while you legs are still working in a cubicle? (Okay that was a really lame example, but cut me some slack, it’s finals week and my brain is fried…) Anyways, no. It couldn’t be done. You would be destroyed. Without the guidance of your brain and the mechanics of your body all working together, you would die. And it would be incredibly painful. Apply that metaphor to a marriage. You and your wife are ONE FLESH. If you fail as a leader and take it upon yourself be unfaithful to your wife, you are ripping the legs from the torso. You will be destroyed. That flesh will be mortally wounded. Your marriage could be destroyed. Your merit as a Godly leader would be absolutely destroyed.  There is no way around it. There is no excuse or permission. Satan is REALLY good at convincing millions of people across our planet that infidelity is acceptable and that you can get away with it and that it’s worth it, but guess what…Satan’s wrong. The Word of God explicitly states that a Godly man–a Godly leader–is the brain of that “one flesh” that you and your wife become. YOU are called to be the leader. You are called to possess the character to lead properly. You are called to stifle your human desires and temptations and to be a husband and a man of integrity. You are responsible for leading your walk, as well as her walk, because in marriage they become ONE walk. You are called to be a man of discipline and to love your wife as Jesus loved the church. LOVE and LEAD in a celebrated single-hood. LOVE and LEAD in a faithful marriage.

(to be continued…)