Always Practicing

It seems to me that life is more about practice than perfect. When I keep this in my thinking, I don’t get so easily discouraged. Indeed, it seems to me that the journey to success are various sizes of incremental improvements. Some increments are big & some improvements seem infinitesimal. Furthermore, I often learn more from my failures than success, particularly when I think of failing as a verb & not just a noun. 

So things that I continue to practice on include:

  • Encouraging words
  • Listening to understand more than reply or argue
  • Trusting God
  • Paying attention to the Holy Spirit

what looks like failure

I hate the word “fail” – it almost makes me have a visceral gagging reaction, borderline puking.  Thankfully, if I take a minute to pause, evaluate and collect myself, I don’t puke.  But if I’m not careful, I can easily throw things into the “failure” column and in a nanosecond find myself back to mental wrestling mat, almost down for the count.  As God & I were talking about this whole failure thing this morning, I was reminded about how Jesus looked hanging on the cross, beat to a bloody pulp and possibly personifying the ultimate failure.  He was betrayed by his friends, completely helpless, physcially obliterated and even yelling at God, “Why have You forsaken Me?!??”

Hanging on the cross, Jesus looked more like a failure than anything I’ve ever experienced & yet from God’s perspective, perhaps Jesus had never been more successful in His earthly existence, up to that point.  Let’s be careful that we don’t frame failure in the context of defeat, permanent or hopeless.  Jesus rose from the dead and living in our hearts, we have resurrection potential every day.

Be sure to pass this along to anyone you know who is struggling with seeming defeat or failure 🙂

do you want to be successful?

How’s that for a stupid question!?!!  I don’t start anything with the intent to fail & I most certainly do not like to fail, full stop.  But some of my thinking about success has been changing & I’m becoming more aware that many of my ideas about success have been more influenced by my American culture rather than the Bible.  My culture says that success is all about being bigger, better, more, power, stronger, wealthy, popular, image driven, new, hip, trendy & all things glitz & glam.  In the American culture, success isn’t about being broken, serving, homely, unpopular or tarnished, some of the things that Jesus personified & taught.  The more I think about success from a cultural versus a biblical perspective, I have to conclude that my culture and the Bible don’t always agree.  The important part of the disagreement is the side on which I chose to live.  If I have to chose between being successful based on the Bible or on my culture, I’m going to side with the biblical definition of success 🙂

How about you?

Doesn’t Meet Expectations

I was thinking about how Jesus often didn’t meet people’s expectations. Mostly, He was a frustration & aggravation to the religious leaders, an enigma to the political leaders & a catastrophic failure to His disciples as He hung on the cross. In some situations, Jesus far exceeded the expectations: He forgives & heals, He repairs & redeems, He confronts & consoles along with so much more!
I find this to be very comforting because there are times when all of us don’t meet the expectations of others. With Jesus’ help, we can disappoint in the right ways 🙂

When you make a bad decision

If you’re like me, from time to time, we make bad decisions. I don’t like it when I make a bad decision & I like the consequences even less. But what is worse than making a bad decision is not learning from such mistakes. So here’s a few things that might be helpful when dealing with bad decisions:
*mistakes & failures are an essential ingredient of success
*beating yourself up over mistakes adds zero value – own the mistake & mistake & move on
*blaming someone else tends to minimize our personal learning experience with the mistake or bad decision
*dont let the fear of a bad decision or mistakes paralyze you from trying
*consider all the people in the Bible who made mistakes & you’ll start feeling better quickly ,)

My lemon cake mistake ,)

I recently made a lemon cake for one of my kid’s birthdays & it didn’t turn out well. Of course, some of the failure was my fault because I didn’t totally follow the directions (the cake didn’t come out of the pan very well). Thankfully, the flavor was ok, but I was still not very happy with the overall outcome – a cake mistake.
When I was thinking about mistakes, I was reading this morning about how God has fearfully & wonderfully made us. When I thought about this, it began to sink into my thinking about how God doesn’t bake or make mistakes. When God does work, His work work is done perfectly, without failures or flaws. Now I’m not saying that we don’t make mistakes but I am saying that we must understand that God has made us & we are not mistakes or failures. Thankfully, God redeems our mistakes but God did not make a mistake when God made you 🙂

the difference between failing and be a failure

 I know that it’s July & most of us are enjoying the lovely Summer heat, but I’ve been thinking about snowboarding, my favorite winter sport 🙂

All of my family skis & I’m the only one who snowboards.  When they measure the success of a day skiing, they’ll often talk about the few number of times that they fell, or that they didn’t fall at all.  In contrast, when I was first learning to snowboard, I stopped counting how many times that I fell because I can’t count that high ,)  But all of those times falling were nothing more than stepping stones to help me to learn a sport that I now thoroughly enjoy.  I still fall from time to time when I snowboard & now when I fall, I make sure that it’s a REALLY GOOD FALL 😀

So my point is that failing doesn’t make us a failure unless we quit.  There are alot of things in which we can fail in life & these things are often the exact places where God would like to move the most in our lives with beauty, grace, poise and redemption.