At times we can be so suffocated by the mistakes we’ve made that we think we’re too incompetent to get any better.
There’s a terrible whisper in our ear: You’re just not good enough at this. You’re not smart like those other people. You will always screw this up.
Or you might have had a certain picture of your life by now, but you’ve somehow irrevocably ruined it all and you’re picking up the pieces of a dead dream. You see your friends further along in life with less effort and you wonder when you’ll ever get it together. You thought the new improved “you” would happen any time now, but “any time now” was five years ago.
My dear beloved friend:
– No one is really as confident as they let on. Most of the macho bravado you see in the streets and the business world is just a false pumped-up cover that consumes more energy than it creates. This is NOT sustainable, because confidence doesn’t come from covering a lack of one.
– No one really has it all together yet. We force so many self-pressuring parameters on our performance that most of us are neurotic, twitchy, over-productive busybodies with no real destination. In a culture where we celebrate only victory and are scared to talk about defeat: please don’t measure yourself on an impossible grading scale. Don’t measure your private moments with everyone else’s highlight reels.
– Mistakes are how you learn. Everyone is afraid of failure: so we protect ourselves by bargaining with the teacher or begging for extensions or ensuring we never get a scraped knee. Such a pampered coddled culture will keep you feeling safe for a while, but it’ll also keep you sterile, shrinkwrapped, and cold. It’s a lifeless journey. It’s okay to make mistakes, and occasionally it’s even better. Scrape a knee, brush it off, get up and move on. Learn from the past and laugh with it too.
– You’re doing better than you think. You’re in the middle of your motion, so it’s hard to see where you are. But so long as you’ve been taking one heavy step forward after another, no matter how awkward your stumbling, then this is worth celebrating. Every moment you’ve done right is a miracle in itself.
– Be willing to pursue a new dream. Sometimes we try so hard to grab our old dreams that we’re not open to new ones. We look too long in the rearview instead of what’s ahead of us. I’ve missed a lot of opportunities this way. But keep your eyes open for open doors, and be flexible enough for a new vision that will be even better than the last.
– Dear Christian: Your confidence is in Him. We are works in progress looking towards the work finished, Jesus. We believe in a God who knew we couldn’t ever reach perfection, so perfection came to us. If you feel like you’ve failed today, the very reason Jesus came was to take on your failures, your ego, your pride, your pain, your sorrows, your sin. And He’ll keep working on you until glory. Everything good in you is God in you: and anything bad in you, He’s working on that.
This is His grace.
“Be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it unto completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
— Philippians 1:6