Monday, October 5, 2015

Permission to Fail

Growing up, my mother always told me to do my best. If my best resulted in a C on a paper, that was okay because I had done everything I could. It was still considered a success because I had tried.

Success is so often the emphasis of our lives. You can find so many articles on how to succeed in school, in your workplace, in your marriage. Everyone is working diligently to move forward. We chase the hope of success but I think what often drives us is the fear of failure. We desire so desperately to get it right, to win the prize, to reach the goal, etc., etc. But do you know a secret? You've been given permission to fail.

Strange, yes?

You see, there is no possible way to avoid failure. None. As a perfectionist, I want to scream and protest, "No! There has to be a way! What do you mean I'm going to fail?!" Anxiety charges through my veins as I grow increasingly more uncomfortable at the thought of failure. But there is freedom to be had if we can grasp that it has never been about arriving. It has always been about the journey.

Philip Yancey puts it plainly in What's So Amazing about Grace?:
The world runs by ungrace. Everything depends on what I do...Jesus' kingdom calls us to another way, one that depends not on our performance but his own. We do not have to achieve but merely follow. He has already earned for us the costly victory of God's acceptance.

In this world, there will always be demands to make the bar, to succeed and gain the acceptance of someone. The desire to earn one's way is hard to shake. Believe me. I am often brought down to depression agonizing over what people think of me and if I can and will succeed.

But today, in the midst of worrying about a new job, I found a sliver of peace to hold in my hands and it was a whisper from God.
"You have my permission to fail. My love is not based on your success. It is founded in who I am and nothing can increase it and nothing can decrease it. My love is infinite."

Perhaps you needed this reminder today too. Cup your cold, working hands around them and let them warm you through and through. You have permission to fail.


  1. Your words are big for me as a fellow perfectionist. Failing is not an option was part of my vocabulary for many years. Stepping back and let whatever happens be okay is very hard to do. Your words are also very timely considering the week I have already had. I am blessed today by this post and glad to be visiting you from 31 Dayers.

  2. Why are we so conditioned to avoid/fear failure? Part of learning (and thus being successful) requires us to fail, and then keep trying!


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