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Failing Forward

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Last week I shared a letter to myself, a reminder of sorts of who I am, for the days that I don’t feel worthy or that I will amount up to anything. ย I talked about the doubts that I have, and how sometimes I feel that I will never succeed; that I am a failure in life. ย Today I want to talk more about failure and how it doesn’t have to be negative, by discussing a concept that I first learned not in Bible study, or through positive thinking training, or even in a therapy session; it was on a ropes challenge course and it was taught by my friend, Justin.

In life there are many different things that we test ourselves at, to see if we can do it successfully. ย Can I hit that ball with this bat? ย Can I run and dive onto my hands and swing my feet up over my head into a cartwheel? ย Can I play an instrument? Sing in a band? Act? Dance? Paint? And so on. ย In those tests or personal challenges we find we will either succeed or fail. ย Either outcome is fine. ย I can play the piano and sing, but I can’t do a cartwheel (to save my life) and that is just fine. ย But when it comes to the bigger questions (such as, can I pass a test? Go to college? Make my family proud? Graduate college? Get a job? Find true love? Get married? Start a family? Be successful?) that is when failure is often accepted as a personal title rather than a statement of achievement.

On the ropes course at Spring Heights, the church camp I was Program Director for for a season, we often had various from churches, schools or even businesses that came for character building or group development. It was a place of positive thinking and encouragement. After safety, our main concern was to extend support and loving-kindness to one another. ย Justin was our ropes director and he spent time explaining these principles to each group. ย He also shared with them the idea of “failing forward”. ย It is normal to think of failing as going backwards, but this concept is that with each attempt (even if it is not successful), it puts us closer to reaching our fullest potential. That sounds an awful lot like Breething’s mission, to inspire others to become the best version of themselves, doesn’t it? ย 
[Tweet “Failure is not the final stop. It’s often the springboard for greatness.”]
I came across an article not too long ago with a quote that stopped me in my tracks. ย It was almost as if it was written for me because in the time and space that I came across it, I was really struggling. ย I learned a lesson this past summer that I never wanted to learn, the hard way. ย I learned that sometimes you cannot trust people, even if they are in high positions and are supposed to be looking out for your best interest. ย You simply have to go with your gut. ย And unfortunately it was one of those times that the saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” rang loud and clear. ย It’s a lesson that I’m still feeling the repercussions of many months later. ย So this quote really spoke to me and still does to this day…
“Failure is an inside job. ย So is success. ย If you want to achieve, you have to win the war in your thinking first. ย You can’t let the failure outside you get inside you.” ย – John Maxwell,ย Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones For Success
Good stuff, right? ย Sometimes we face things in our lives that knock us to the ground. ย Whatever it is, it’s not an easy thing to accept. Just like I shared yesterday about theย Journey of Faith and walking a prayer labyrinth, sometimes these happenstances cause us to stray from God and even turn our backs on Him. ย But when that happens we have to remember, even though we’re not happy with our circumstances, and are pretty miffed off at God, He will NEVER turn His back on us. ย No.Matter.What. ย And when those situations occur, we have to stand firm in the belief that if God is for us, no one can be against us, and not allow the events of the failed outcome become the title in which you base the rest of your story.
[Tweet “Sometimes you must be brought to your knees in order to stand.”]
I found these three images on social media within the last couple of weeks and they are simply too good not to share. ย Read the words of each and really let them sink in. ย (Click on each image to see a larger version.)
Remember, when life drags you down, you’re not a failure, doomed to wallow in despair for the rest of your days. No. You just didn’t succeed in that situation. ย Learn from your mistakes and allow them to propel you forward, failing forward, so that the next time around you will be that much closer to becoming your true self, what God designed you to be.

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  1. Thank you for posting your blog and for sharing with us. You made some really good points about failure, and it really helped me. Thank you so much again! Blessings to you. โ™ฅ

    1. Raelene, thank you for your comment! I am blessed to know that my post has been helpful for you. Remember that it’s okay to fail, but also in those moments we need to remember to take a step back and see what we can learn from the experience so that we can be that much closer to success on our next try. Be blessed, my sister!

  2. I love that John Maxwell quote! I had not heard it before. Great images too. I really enjoy reading quotes on Pinterest. I can get lost in it. I wish I would have learned about Failing Forward years ago. It is a term I just learned this week in our study and I’m planning to hold unto it!

    1. Candace, it’s a great quote isn’t it? A real eye opener! I think it fits precisely with what we studied this week in “A Confident Heart”. I hope you continue to find inspirations and blessings as we continue in our study! Oh and I am a Pinterest addict too! So easy to get lost in it all!

    1. Crystal, you brought up a great image in my mind. Have you ever done a trust fall? This was another challenge we did on the ropes course with our groups. It’s surrendering to and fully placing your trust in the hands of others as you literally fall into their open arms below you. With Jesus, He asks us to do the same thing and though there’s no doubt that He’ll catch us every time, it’s easy to still have doubts. Keep believing and reaching forward! Blessings to you!

  3. I have a son I want to buy this book for – THis Failing Forward. I so agree – failure is often the stepping stone to success – it’s all in perspective! Thank you for sharing your heart!

    1. John Maxwell’s book is going on my Christmas wishlist too! I found his quote by accident when I was looking for another quote for a post months ago and it really grabbed me. It really is all about perspective. I pray that the book provides just that for your son and that both you and he are blessed through reading it! Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Lauren, I whole-heartedly agree! Failing forward is really a way to launch yourself forward into a place of growth. Thank you for your comment and for stopping by! Many blessings to you, my sister!

  4. Thankyou for the encouragement with your words about failing forward. I was also helped by the picture of the arrow, being pulled backwards, knowing that it was being aimed in the right direction and would meet it’s mark.

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