Whenever you ask someone how they feel about the word ‘failure’, it usually brings about negative connotations. It’s understandable, of course, as failure means the absolute. The opposite of winning. The absence of good things. The loss of something you strived for.
Failure is a word that scares people. But change can also be a word that scares people. The two seem to come alongside each other in a balance that can be both terrifying and exciting (to those who are incredibly brave and know their own strength).
Why is it that so many of us avoid change? What is it about the way our minds work that causes us to hate any shift in our lives?
To give you an example, I know why change is hard for me. It’s hardwired in my brain. My autism causes me to despise any thought of my life changing, even in the smallest of things. Moving furniture around in my bedroom or throwing away things I don’t need is hard for me. Moving to Lincoln after living in one place I’d known best for six years was incredibly difficult. It wasn’t that I was just afraid of the changes I would face, it was also the fact that I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to handle the transition. That I would be so homesick that I wouldn’t be able to focus and end up failing my classes. That I wouldn’t know what direction my life would head in. Being the way I am, I over-analyze and overthink everything that could possibly go wrong in my future.
I can imagine that you’ve been in the same place.
All we can ask ourselves and ask God is: why?
Why do You force us into a mold that we haven’t made for ourselves?
Why do You put us through so much?
Why do we have to experience failing and the fear of change?
How is this relevant to our situations and the way we live our lives?
How does this help us in any way?
In praying about and reading about this topic, I was hit with a point that could really strike home for some people:
fear of failure chains us up to avoid change.
It’s simple. Being afraid of the outcomes of something that we can’t even begin to imagine causes us to hold onto what we know. To hold onto the things that we’ve come to be comfortable with, the things that we call ‘home’. It could be an object of endearment or an actual house, or maybe even a person. Fearing the loss of that object or that person binds us up mentally and emotionally to want to remain in that place of comfort. Even if it’s unhealthy.
Now, I’m going to stop blabbing and share some passages from Scripture that correlate alongside this point I have made.
A very popular set of verses that have been used often enough but not truly understood are Deuteronomy 31:6 and Joshua 1:9.
Deuteronomy 31:6 states:
6 So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
And similarly to that, Joshua 1:9 states:
9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
What do these two verses have in common? Well, it’s quite obvious. God is telling the Israelites to be strong and courageous. He reminds them over and over again that He is always with them and they have no reason to be afraid. The same could be said for us. So often we find ourselves quivering in fear, sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong ones. But if God repeatedly told His people to be strong, He means it for us as well. He means for us not to worry and not to be afraid of all that is to come because He holds us in the palm of His hand. He keeps us safe from those that come to hurt us.
We also see this constant reminder in two other popular verses: Philippians 4:6-7 and Jeremiah 29:11.
Philippians 4:6-7 goes like this:
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And you all know Jeremiah 29:11:
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Now, what do these verses have in common?
They tell the reader not to worry. To put our hope in Christ and to pray in all circumstances.
What does this mean for us? How can we take what is being said in these four passages and apply them to our lives?
Some could say that it’s simple, that giving our fears and worries about failing and about the change that could happen is easy. And there are some who struggle to let go of even the smallest of routine or the smallest of worries.
And that’s okay. God knows where we stand in our battles and He creates us to have to rely on Him. He creates us to have a need in our hearts that we can’t fill unless we invite Him into every part of our lives. He creates us to need Him.
So those fears of failing and fears of change you may have do not surprise Him. He may even be putting you through those situations to help you to grow and to shape you to be a better person who has a stronger relationship with Him. I’ve definitely been there. I personally have been through a lot in this last year. Last September, I nearly lost my sight. This last February, I lost a relationship that shook me to my core. This last April, I was faced with the realization that my life needed to change, and this fall, it completely flipped on its head. I had to change everything about my routine and about the way I lived my life and it was so difficult. It still is sometimes.
But I am sitting here writing this to you because of what God has shown me through these difficult times.
If I had not been on bedrest for two weeks because of my surgery, I would not have realized that uni was not the right fit for me.
If I had not lost a three-year relationship that was unhealthy and unevenly yoked, I would not have made the decision to move and to start anew in my college life and in my relationship with God.
If I had not made the decision to switch colleges and move to Lincoln, I would still be in a pit of insecurity and heartbreak and introverted behaviours where I was most familiar.
But because God pushed me outside of my comfort zone in calling me to become a leader and calling me to chase after Him with everything I have, I am a stronger person in Him and stronger in what I believe in who I am. I know without a shadow of a doubt why I went through what I went through and even though I still face insecurity sometimes, I know that God is with me and He is my strength when my flesh is weak and He has called me to a life of worshipping Him with everything I have to give and leading others to find His grace and glory.
And He has a plan for you also. He has something incredible in mind for you that you can’t even begin to imagine yet. All you have to do is push behind what you know, break those chains of fear and take that giant leap of faith. Though it may scare you to death, in the end, you will be a better person because of it and you will find so much more than you could have ever thought.
But don’t just take my word for it.