We all fail.
Mistakes are inevitable but can leave us feeling discarded and useless. Failed tests, failed expectations, failed marriages, failed job performance, failed attempts to reach our goals, failed parenting. Perfection is not ours this side of Heaven, so how do we come back from our mistakes?
I am a mother of six who barely survived the summer. Pretending that it was anything more than that would take too much effort on my part, and I’m already exhausted. I am not proud of most of the 70 days I spent at home with my children. Not every day was forgettable, but most were a repetition of the same. I was lazy and in many ways disengaged. I missed countless opportunities to love on my kids.
I am sad to say that my laziness seeped into other areas of my life. The word that I would choose to best describe summer self would be “blob”.
Throughout the summer, I felt regret trying to warn me, but I remained in my blob state. I simply survived. Nothing more, unless you consider watching three seasons of Gilmore Girls a meaningful accomplishment. I barely exercised and only wrote one blog post.
So now what?
What do you do when you realize you let someone down or let yourself down? Maybe you couldn’t keep your mouth shut and hurt your husband’s feelings. You gained back the ten pounds that you worked so hard to lose. You made a mistake at work that cost you a promotion or even your job. Your child was struggling but you were too busy to notice until it got really bad.
No matter your mistakes, you have a few options at this point.
- Wallow– you can sit in a pit of defeat, beating yourself up for your failures.
- Blame– you can blame your mistakes on the pain others caused you, your circumstances, or your hormones.
- Give up– you can take on your failure as your identity and continue on the same path of mistakes.
- Rise– you can get up out of the ashes of your failure and decide to plan a come-back. [Choose this one!]
It’s time to dig deep, to that place in us where our deep desires live, those dreams that propel us forward into action. No matter our mistakes, our purpose remains and hope is still alive. If there is breath left in us, change is possible. We all have the same grace offered to us, and as we stand under the shower of that grace, we can rise.
How do we make a come-back?
As I wrestle with the reality of my wasted summer, I can’t help but think of Peter. If you don’t know him, he was a disciple of Jesus. Passionate and headstrong, vowing to follow Jesus no matter the cost. Yet, despite his good intentions, Peter failed. Miserably. He was so distraught over his failure that the Bible says he “wept bitterly”.
Remember that shower of grace? Peter found himself standing beneath it when Jesus gave him an opportunity to once again love the one who had betrayed. Jesus didn’t yell at him, manipulate him with guilt, or give him the silent treatment. He didn’t humiliate Peter in front of his friends or even demand an explanation. He simply asked Peter, “do you love me?”
Peter went on to be the “Rock” that Jesus knew he would be, boldly proclaiming the grace and mercy of God. He led the early church and ultimately gave his life for Christ. I would call that a come-back.
Let’s follow what God teaches us through the life of Peter.
- Be broken. See your mistake for what it is. Yours. No blaming, no excuses, no self-pity. Peter wept bitterly over his failure. Jesus came for the broken. Isaiah 61:1 says that Jesus came “to bind up the brokenhearted.” 1 John 1:9 says that, “if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”
- Be reminded who you are. Praise God that our identity is not what we do. Neither our mistakes nor our successes define us. Jesus simply asked Peter, “do you love me?” He reminded Peter of who Peter was- a Christ follower. His identity as a forgiven and righteous child of God was not depending on Peter, but on the sacrifice of Jesus.
- Be encouraged. Jesus uses the broken. He used Peter who was impulsive and stubborn. Failure does not remove our purpose that was woven into us by our creator. You know what’s exciting? Before Peter’s big failure, Jesus said, “You are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” [Matthew 16:18] The purpose that Jesus had for him did not change when Peter failed. Failure does not disqualify.
- Be ready to rise. Peter went on in power from the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s plan for him. He had experienced the grace of God and walked forward in faith knowing God would do it all through him. He rose out of the ashes of his betrayal of Jesus forgiven and determined. He learned from his mistakes and rested in the power of God, not the power of himself.
Your mistakes do not define you or disqualify you. Let these words of one who failed miserable encourage you to make a come-back today.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11