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Redefine Failure


I need to redefine failure.

This was a revelation to me. I have read many books and articles about defining success. I was well aware I needed to have God’s view of success, know what He required, be more concerned with that than what any person said success was, looked like or contained. I have spent many hours reshaping my vision of success. It still needs frequent touch ups and even remodel work.

Failure though? I know what failure looks like. Don’t I?

Failure is quitting, giving up, walking away. That is what my mind said.

“If you are still trying you haven’t failed.” That is what I tell others.

The revelation was for me failure was messing up, making a mistake, anything short of perfection. Even worse this definition often applied to my children.

My mind had one definition. My heart had another. Maybe my heart and mind had definitions for everyone else and other definitions for me? my children? How could I ever feel good about who I am as a mom if I am doomed to “failure” by my very definition?

I can’t. Neither can you.

So I realized I must redefine failure.
I turned to Webster’s 1828 to see what he said failure was.

FA’ILURE, n. fa’ilyur.
1. A failing; deficience; cessation of supply, or total defect; as the failure of springs or streams; failure of rain; failure of crops.
2. Omission; non-performance; as the failure of a promise; a man’s failure in the execution of a trust.
3. Decay, or defect from decay; as the failure of memory or of sight.
4. A breaking, or becoming insolvent. At the close of a war, the prices of commodities fall, and innumerable failures secceed.
5. A failing; a slight fault. [Little used.]

Failure can mean an area that is not perfect, an area of deficet. I realized again as I thought about those definitions the need to seperate myself from my behavior. I have been told this many times. I have failings, short comings, deficets. That is far different from “I am a failure.” The later is what I all too often hear in my head, from myself, when I experience a failing.

I will fail in the sense of small, or large, choices along the way. None of my failures are enough to redefine me as a failure. I am the righteousness of Christ Jesus by His righteous work.
In redefining failure I must give myself grace to be okay when I make mistakes. Grace for the time it takes to change habits. Grace to learn. Grace to try again because then I have not failed. I, in fact, cannot fail because I will never give up trying to look more like Jesus. Bringing glory to God is success. Looking like Jesus brings God glory. Success acheived.

For sake of full disclosure I can think through truth and process failure in my mind. I can reason and maybe even know in my head and my spirit that I am not a failure. I still fight feeling like one far more than I would like to admit. I do not say that to make you feel hopeless. I say it to keep away any illusions that because I write about issues and bring them neatly wrapped in scriptural truth does not mean I have it all together. I still need God desprately. every. day.
No matter how I fail or feel He will never fail. That’s grace.

What does failure look like for you?

Christian, Wife, Mother, and Author loving life in Alaska.

Feedback is always welcome. Thank you for reading!