Here we are closing in on the end of February, aka the longest and shortest month of the year. I’m not sure why it always feels so daunting. Maybe it’s the moment we have to be honest with ourselves about our new year goals and resolutions. What? Oh, yeah… you know what I’m talking about. The new exercise routine, the weight you plan to lose, the raise at work you were going to ask for, the books you are planning to read, the bible in a year reading plan you are going to follow through on… this year….
So, we are a little over 6 weeks into the year. How are your goals going? Did you fail a time or two? Maybe you made it 7 days? Not quite to the spot of creating a truly new habit. Did you try again? Did you get back up when you felt defeated?
I was talking with some friends yesterday about a goal I had set for myself. The very first thing I had done with this particular goal was, I gave myself permission to fail. And, to fail miserably at it. When my girls are studying, and they say how hard it is and they feel like they are failing, I tell them, “learning new things is hard, you have to keep trying if you want to learn something new. If you only do the things you already know how to do, you would never gain wisdom, new strength, or even new character.”
The idea that when we start something new, we should be perfect at it, is ridiculous. But, many of us find ourselves paralyzed by the idea of failure. So, instead of failing, we do nothing at all. Because, nothing doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t change us.
Wait, what? That’s not right, it does hurt us. How? Because, I would bet that the goals you have for yourself are something for a better life for you. Whatever it is, your aspirations are something to improve your current health, finances, career, family, marriage, and even your walk with God. When we become paralyzed with the notion that the new, good life we desire is unattainable, we stop. We do nothing instead of giving ourselves the permission to learn and grow into the new life we desire.
This life is a marathon. A long race that requires training. It is going to require you to stick to it, even through the hard days. Even on the days that are a complete failure. In the moments you tell yourself you aren’t worth it, you have to press on. Give yourself permission to learn. Give yourself permission to skin your knees and bruise your elbows. Give yourself permission to seek accountability and confess that you can’t change the things that need changing without someone there to help you through it. Be transparent, be honest with yourself, and ask for help.
One of the goals I have for myself this year is: “less doing and more being”. I don’t even totally know what that means. I know this, God doesn’t need me doing all the things, he needs me to be a part of what he is doing. I want to experience that in its fullness. It means for me, giving up a lot of my own need to control and decide things. It means giving up my need to put things together before I go to God with prayer.
This learning curve may be one of the biggest I’ll ever overcome. I really don’t do a very good job. In fact, I’m being perfectly imperfect, with all of the permission I need to fail. And when I give myself permission to fail, I stop putting the definition of who I am on the things I do. I put my identity in Christ. Because, I am completely loved by a good God, who loves all the messy, imperfect parts about me. Including the skinned knees and bloody elbows. More than I want good for myself, He desires to see me free and prospering in this life. So, I put my trust in Him and his perfect ways.
Where has God called you to new goals and new life? Where do you need to give yourself the permission to fail? I pray you take that step of faith, and when you feel the water rising all around you, you find the hand of a good God who will never leave you.