Failing Forward

– Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success.

This morning, I was watching my 6 month old son trying to crawl. He pushes himself up onto his hands and tries to lift his tummy off the ground. Sometimes he gets frustrated and starts to cry, but the more and more he tries, he longer he is able to hold himself up. It’s not easy to watch my kids try something new. As the parent, I want to jump in and help because it’s not easy watching them fall down or get frustrated. But in the case of my son learning to crawl, he has to learn to do it himself.

As I was watching my son, I started thinking about Renee Swope’s book, A Confident Heart, and Chapter 7 titled “When Doubt Whispers ‘I’m such a failure’.”

When I watch my children try something new or practice to get better at a skill, I would never call them a failure. Finding what you are good at or learning to walk, for instance, are just a part of growing up. A child learning to walk takes time and more than likely, is going to fall before they are steady on their feet, or borrow Renee’s phrase, failing forward.

As I look back at my own life and what I consider failing, I remember the disappointment of my first driving test. I remember the big “D” on my first history (my favorite subject) paper of high school. I remember sitting on the floor crying when my oldest hit the terrible two stage and I seemed to be losing the battle of yet another tantrum.

But in all of these instances, I learned something valuable. With each test, paper and day with my child, I learned from the mistakes I had previously made.

There have also been times when God has allowed me to struggle with a sin or difficult person, to the point of exhaustion. I’ve cried out to him in confession and pleading to help me. But as I do with my own children, He allowed me to struggle. I believe He has used these times to build patience, perseverance and kindness.

God doesn’t look at me as a failure, but He does allow me to fail to help me attain something He wants me to learn. As Renee says in her book “Failure pushes us to do more than we think we can and try other methods of doing things when one way doesn’t work. Failure can be hurtful, but it can also be beneficial.”


5 thoughts on “Failing Forward

  1. I really like how you compare God allowing us to fail with a parent allowing a child to struggle while learning – without struggle there is no learning. Failure is hard but there is always a lesson! Stephanie Solberg OBS Small Group Leader

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  2. Thanks for sharing Erin, that through the struggles we learn to move forward despite how many times we may fall. I like how you said failure can be hurtful, but can be beneficial. God uses all our hurts to grow and provides peace in the end. Blessings on the journey . Great post.
    Marilyn (OBS Group Leader)

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  3. Erin,
    As usual, I loved reading your blog 🙂
    The part that really spoke to me was the part about struggling with a difficult sin or person. I have been in that situation with my office manager. I had to begin praying for her in order to overcome our toxic relationship. As I look back at how bad things are, it's hard to believe how God turned that situation to something so much better.
    Also–I loved the part about watching our children try and try again, and never considering them failures. We rejoice with each success–we never focus on their failures. How twisted have we become that we would think God would think of us that way?
    Anyway, thanks for speaking to my heart.

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  4. Erin, I love how you communicate such an important message through your son trying to hold himself up, trying over and over again. Never giving up, going back at it to try again.

    When working with children, there is a great reminder that young children will keep trying, tell the step in a task is a accomplished. We adults see each growing development reached as a victory, and love watching them make little accomplishments in the task. We feel so much joy when there development grows and they accomplish the task. We adults Rejoice in and the moment and are so proud of the children.

    Young Children are a great reminder that they have no understanding of failing. They are filled with joy through every victory.

    When I am struggling and feel like a failure I try to bring myself back to a young child. Everything around them is new and is a new experience. Through a child's eyes they did not fail they keep trying. Without a learning struggle there is no learning. So lets keep trying over and over like are children do looking at each learning stage as a step of growth and accomplishment not as a failure.

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