The other day, I was in town when some poor bloke heading down the escalator suddenly found himself flat on his face with an escalator-load of people heading straight towards him. His lace had been caught and he went flying. As the poor guy scrambled out the way, his face getting redder and redder, there was a shout from someone in the crowd:
This poor bloke looked mortified. Not only had he hurt and embarrassed himself, now he was being shouted at by a random stranger. A simple accident, awkward at most, suddenly turned into a bigger deal. You could see his discomfort and he actually started to look ashamed of himself. A simple trip had become a value judgement against him.
A friend of mine went out on a date with this guy…Not the best of evenings, admittedly, with some uncomfortable silences and some awful jokes that fell flat. But she said:
“I’m crap at this dating stuff. What a #fail”
She decided that, because of a simple bad night out, she was a failure.
This #fail stuff can be less than funny and actually quite painful or damaging. It seems that something that used to just be an accident are now things that shame and embarrass people – either through their own choice or through someone else’s. The word fail can be demeaning and, in situations both small and big, does damage to our self-worth, security and significance.
OK, it can be light hearted and amusing, but when we start to tell ourselves that we are a failure, it starts to do something in us.
It cultivates in us a fear of failure. Maybe that looks like the fear of looking stupid, or the fear of being the butt of the joke, the fear of making mistakes. Maybe it is the fear of doing something new because we don’t want to get it wrong…
At least, that’s what I see in myself. That I’d rather not do something, than risk people thinking I messed it up. That I got it wrong. That I was a failure.
But I’m learning to push past that, to defeat that fear, with the strength of God, through Him healing some of my past pain and a commitment of my heart, I’m learning to not take myself so seriously but to take God very seriously – I’m learning that obedience brings life in fullness.
But, alongside that, I’m learning that there is actually a depth of adventure in that place, that somehow adventure and fullness of life go hand-in-hand.
So I want to learn to teeter on the edge between success and failure, where I’m always pushing myself and stepping out in faith. This means that sometimes I will topple over the cliff of failure in glorious defeat. It also means that sometimes I will confidently stride to new successes. I want to learn to always be treading that fine line between success and failure.
I want to run from the easy ride, toward the road that leads to adventure.
I want to back away from living in my “kingdom of comfort”*, to seek after the Kingdom of God.
I would be gutted to look back over life and regret the things I didn’t do. Not the bad things; not the things that damage me or other people, the sinful things, but those seemingly-scary things I feel God is saying to do; the dangerous things, the fun things.
I long for the fullness of life that Jesus we’re promises us and I reckon that it’s found when we step out and try.
Jesus offers us an adventure. Not a knight-on-horseback type adventure, or a Famous-Five/Harry Potter-esque adventure, but something tangible, real and full of life.
All we have to do is choose to obey, choose to join in what He is doing already. It might be telling your mate about Jesus; it might be starting up a new club at school or college; it might be planting a church; it might simply be following your heart towards the things you are most passionate about.
Whatever your “thing” is – don’t be held back by the fear of failure. Failure leads us to maturity. Don’t be defeated before you have even tried, don’t be defeated if it all goes wrong. Learn and grow from it. Try again.
In John 10:10 Jesus tells us “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. “ (MSG).
Life that is more that we can ever dream. That’s what Jesus offers us – not rules to stick to, not regulations to follow, not getting told off; life to the very fullest. To live out the adventure that Jesus seems to offer us; but no adventure was without its in-built risks, at least not adventure that is worthwhile. It has been said that “adventure without risk is Disneyland”** – it might be fun for a little while, but who wants to live there?!
And, let’s face it, what fun is there in that? It is in the possibility of everything falling to ruin that the adventure is started, that we cling on more tightly to Jesus and that a life of fullness is found.
* “Save me save me
From the kingdom of comfort where I am king
To this kingdom of heaven where You are King”
** Douglas Coupland, Generation X