So this week I failed. I probably failed at quite a lots of things in hindsight, but I know that I failed at one thing specifically. This week I turned 24 and my birthday marked the end of a five year plan I set when I was 19. The five year plan had three points, by the time Thursday hit marking the culmination of my five years I’d achieved one of the three points. I failed. The three goals I set myself to have cracked by my 24th were to have a degree (check), be married (…um…) and be at least pregnant with my first child (…uh…). I failed, no two ways, no grey edges, no dispute… I failed.
Now I hear you shuffling awkwardly in your chair (unless you’re standing up… In which case, why are you standing up reading a blog you maverick?! Take a seat!) because that seems like quite a harsh way to start a blog. I used the F word (no not that one) no less than 6 times in that introduction alone and plan on using it a good few more before this blog is done!! Failure is not something we talk about in polite company very often. More accurately, our own personal failure is not something we like to talk about in polite company, other people’s failings- especially those in authority- can be lovely topic of idle chit chat!
Just as the more civilised amongst us don’t really talk about using the loo, failing is also something we aren’t too keen to admit to. But are we seriously kidding anyone?! Everybody poops and everybody fails.
Now regular readers of this blog (hi dad) will know that I am a raging perfectionist, I’ve written about the high standards I demand of myself both personally and professionally quite a bit. So why is it then, as someone who requires the utmost success of myself, that I find myself laying all bare (ooher) and admitting so openly to abject failure? It’s because I’ve learnt something. Some failure is inevitable, failure isn’t a dirty word and failure isn’t the end of the story.
If we travel further back into the mists if time, back even before the five year plan was created, to February 2008 you would find a very unhappy 18 year old Lex. A Lex who, although barely four months away from completing school and her A levels, was fighting tooth and nail with her teachers to be allowed to drop out of school. By the grace of God (and a fair bit of bullying) I didn’t drop out and I did take my exams but I by no means flourished. I’d applied for a deferred uni place to take up after my gap year, and because of my once high predicted grades had a pretty prestigious offer…. It’s no surprise that I didn’t get the grades for my first choice, I didn’t even get the grades for my fall back option. I’d failed.
Why am I telling you this tale of woe?! Well because, like it said, failure wasn’t the end of the story. I left school feeling like crap, started my gap year and found out about this amazing uni course, that was in exactly what I wanted to do, where A level grades didn’t necessarily matter, and the rest, as they say, is history. I went from near school drop out and failure, to a first class honours degree in four years. I’d failed once but flourished in the end.
So let’s fast forward back to the present and reassess the epic five year plan failure. Am I a bit gutted that I didn’t manage all the things I hoped I would have done by the age of 24? Of course I am. Do I wish I was married and had a baby? You have no idea! Did I fail? Yeah. Is it the end of the story? Hell no! Although I didn’t get to check off all three points on the plan, I wouldn’t exchange these last five years for anything. In the end my five year failure has added some of the most beautiful and exciting threads to the tapestry of my life, how can I look at that as a bad thing?
So I didn’t manage it all by 24, just imagine what I could do with another five year’s practice!!
Like the little acronym that titles today’s blog shows us, failure means we’re learning, failure means we’re trying, failure means we had the guts to give something a go. Why would we be embarrassed about any of those things?!
Romans 3: 23-24 sums it up for us, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous.”. We fail. I fail, you fail, we all fall short of God’s standard. But there is grace for our failings. There is grace that covers the shortfall and allows us to get up, dust ourselves down and learn from our failures. Thank God that while we may fail, His unending love and extravagant grace doesn’t.
So today I pray for us failures. I pray for those feeling the sting of shame that failing so often brings. I pray for those who feel that they have failed one too many times. And I pray for those failing without the knowledge of God’s unimaginable grace.
But most of all I pray for you (yes you), I pray that this week/month/year that you would fail at something. I pray that you would royally, massively, properly screw something up… But learn a beautiful lesson from it. I pray that you would have the guts to learn, the guts to try, the guts to bugger something up, and ultimately the guts to accept God’s grace in your failings.
Lex (24, single, childless, BA Hons!!) xx