The last four weeks flew by so quickly, even more so because of the holidays and the new year!
At the end of the year, some people reflect on the year and count their achievements. Some, some only see the failures of the year, while others see both (which is great in my humble opinion). Many make new goals for the new year ridding off the great year they had, others think of improvements, and there are some who simply give up because they had a rough year filled with failures.
Failure is the topic of this post, but before I get started, here are the links to the previous four insecurity posts if you haven’t had a chance to read them, yet:
Alright, now let’s move onto our fifth and last insecurity on the list of insecurities that prevent us from doing God’s work: life failure.
Serious “life failure,” whether it’s work or family, can crush the spirit.
Do you view yourself as a failure because you didn’t succeed at one of your projects? One that really mattered to you? Or perhaps your relationship with your family isn’t where you would like it to be?
You’re not a failure.
But what if you fail time and again?
It may be hard to believe, but you are NOT A FAILURE.
If you’re still in pain from failing, it may be hard for you to believe that you are not a failure. It is hard to grasp the positive aspects of yourself when you’re feeling disheartened by failure. I encourage you to ask your family and friends about how they see you and remind you of your accomplishments. Repeat those things to yourself each day. It may be difficult for you to feel the same as they do, but believe in what they say they see in you.
Your self worth shouldn’t be based on what you can accomplish, otherwise, your happiness will be determined by external factors. Factors that you don’t always have control of.
Your motivation will be drained if you based your worth and happiness on your accomplishments alone. The same holds true for your relationship with your family or certain family members. A relationship is a two-way street: you make the effort and the other person makes the effort to better the relationship. Relationships also come with respect for each other’s boundaries. If those boundaries are crossed and no apology or effort is made to fix it, it may be best to separate from that relationship because it will become toxic for your life. (If you are the one who is choosing not to apologize and respect the boundaries set, it is time you take a look inside yourself and come to terms with what is really upsetting you).
I know this will hurt a lot, but it is the better choice – to distance yourself rather than let the toxic enter your life.
I do not have a great relationship with my family. The more I am around them, the worse I become (quick temper, angry, restless, etc.). I know that I love them better when I am not around them all the time, so I chose to live away from them. It makes me miss them. I am kinder to them when I am with them. Why? Because I have the space I need to think without them. I have the freedom to do what I want to do without being pestered to do their chores as well. It has also helped with my communication with them and also taught them to respect my boundaries. My relationship with them is not great but it is better than it ever was and I truly believe it is because of the set boundaries and the distance. (Please note: I have a dysfunctional family with an abusive history, the environment is toxic, and the communication and respect are sparse. I needed to leave to become a better person. Don’t leave your family home just on account of one or two events of misunderstanding without first trying to resolve the conflict).
For the longest time, I was extremely ashamed to mention my family to any of my friends because I didn’t like my family. I didn’t like who I was when I was with my family. I didn’t want that side of myself exposed and judged by others.
I had a really hard time accepting love because of my broken relationship with my family. I didn’t feel like I deserve love and I wouldn’t even recognize love if it was staring me in the face. I had a really distorted idea of what love is – if you love me, you would do it for me. So when I found God and learned of true love, I had difficulty accepting being loved just for simply being myself and no other reason (read about love here).
Set boundaries and distance yourself from toxic relationships so you do not get absorbed and become a person you do not like.
Failure at work. I feel like this is my whole career here, a long history of failures after failures. I recently quit my job a few months ago because I couldn’t do the work anymore. When I made the decision to quit, I was devastated. I saw myself as a failure and questioned my ability to work anywhere else if I couldn’t handle my job at the time. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the reasons why I made the decision to quit. Day 3 after I made the decision, my mind slowed down enough to focus on my individual qualities. I started to list the things I am great at and the accomplishments I achieved during my tenure with the organization. Then I listed the things that I found hard or troubling for me to do. I was finally able to understand that quitting because I couldn’t do the job the position required didn’t mean I was a failure. In fact, I was smart to realize that the job wasn’t the right fit for me. My skills and talents are better suited elsewhere. Yes, I could’ve stayed and kept making mistakes, kept learning, and then achieve it; but, I wasn’t happy. Each day that passed by I was getting anxious at my inability to meet the demands and I wasn’t serving my organization the way I should – the way I wanted to. The solution was to quit. For me, the greatest achievement was understanding my skills and my needs.
If you’ve failed at a project, or doing the work you think you should know how to do, and think you are a failure, think again. You are not a failure. Yes, you did not succeed in that project or the work that was given to you, but that does not mean you are a failure. You have skills and talents that are better suited elsewhere. Do as I did and list all your qualities in the work space (outside too if it helps), then find the one point (or mistake) that lead to you failing the job you were given. There may be more than one contributing factor to why you didn’t succeed. Give yourself some leniency. Learn from it and you’ll succeed the next time around, or at least know yourself better so you can choose a job, project, or ask for help that will suit you best.
Failures drain our motivation, our spirit, our enthusiasm to work. Without motivation and confidence in ourselves, we cannot step out in faith and accomplish the tasks God has given us. Past failure(s) also makes us fearful that it will happen again if we try to do what we think we can do if we try to reach for more. We start to have doubts based on past failures and our fear keeps us from trusting in God.
Here is how we should view failure:
Jeremiah said to the people of Judah: “This is what the Lord says: You know if a man falls down, he gets up again. And if a man goes the wrong way, he turns around and comes back” (Jeremiah 8:4). Failure is meant to be used as a directional sign, steering you to the path meant for you.
This verse from Revelation makes it clear that the doors closed to us is a pathway to an opportunity specifically designed for us by the Lord: “I know your works. Because you have limited strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name, look, I have placed before you an open door that no one is able to close” (3:8). I LOVE that He opens doors for me that can’t ever be shut by anyone!
Even if you’re working for God and have failed, you haven’t failed yet. He was training you for a larger role. You haven’t succeeded because you are learning what not to do. You are learning the perseverance and skills needed for the bigger role God has waiting for you.
Before I explain the activity I asked you to do in the first post of this series, I want to say: of the greatest insecurities we have in doing the Lord’s work and in the back of our minds is that we think we’re sinners, thus we are unable to do His work to our greatest potential. We are afraid that when others learn of our sinful past we would somehow lose our influence. Remember that God leads, He is only using your body to do the work He needs. Your past, or any shortcomings you may think you have, has no bearing on the people God would touch through you. In fact, He chose you because of your shortcomings.
I’m not saying that I have the answer and the cure for these issues; what I’m saying or doing is revealing the issues that need to be addressed and the only one who can heal you is Christ. Do not let these issues cause you to be far from God and in doing so, fall well away from God’s will. If your insecurities and pain are deeply rooted and the suggestions I’ve given in my five posts do not help you, I recommend seeing a therapist (see a new one if the previous one didn’t help you). I am not a professional and have made suggestions based on my own experience that I think may help you.
I asked you to write down 5 facts about yourself (personalities, goals, etc.) of where you are in life right now. It can be your insecurities or your securities. Take your time and write them down now if you haven’t. Don’t rush, I find that when I’m asked to write facts about myself I revert to the time in elementary school listing my good qualities. They are usually surface qualities and don’t tap deep into who I am. I want you to tap deep into you. Look carefully within you and write the truths you see, the doubts you feel, attributes you are proud of, etc.
Now, I want you to look over the facts you wrote and answer the questions below:
What prompted you to write that particular fact about yourself?
Is that how you view yourself or did someone tell you about it and you believe it?
Is it negative? Is it positive? Or both?
Did you list your insecurities? Or were they things you feel confident about yourself?
Here’s what it means:
I find that usually when you write down the negative things in your life, it is because they are still a huge part of you whether you’ve overcome them or not. Typically, it is because you have not overcome them. If you’ve listed insecurities, it is because you want to improve them or come to terms with them in a positive way (part on good terms). Perhaps this is the time to sit down and figure out a positive way to accept your insecurities and love yourself, flaws and all.
If you wrote down securities or positive things about yourself, it shows that you’re looking to the bright side. It shows you know your good qualities, you recognize them in yourself, and value yourself. This also means that you know your shortcomings but you persevere using positivity. Don’t forget to take a step back and view insecurities you may have; don’t deny them because they will grow to be a stumbling block. Face them, deal with them, and you’ll become unstoppable in what you do.
If you wrote both positive and negative qualities, it means you recognize both qualities that make you. Neither overpowers the other and you have a good balance. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to improve yourself. You do, but you are taking the steps needed to get there on your time. It can be exhausting but well worth it.
I hope this helps you in your walk towards understanding yourself and serving God better. I hope the activity shines a light into who you are and hopefully, it’ll guide you to your next step (or help with your new year’s resolution).
Remember, when you love yourself warmly you learn to love and accept others as well. Your warm responses will draw out the same emotions in others.
Until next time, respond to yourself with love, to others with love, and to God with love. What does that mean? Find out here.