I’ve felt the discouraging effects of failure and the fear of failure often as of late. I go into situations in which I’ve never been before, expecting myself to know exactly what people need, expecting myself to have the answers to fix everything, and then leaving convinced that I should just give up on becoming a decent human being because I lack the preceding knowledge.
This morning, after a rough night of sick dreams (which tend to be the state of my out-of-light thoughts), sick, as in strange and uncomfortable and vivid enough to take away a substantial amount of sleep, I woke up struggling to push past these effects of failure and disappointment. On top of this, I’m in another state particular to young women that makes it impossibly difficult to focus and determine what is lie and what is truth.
And so I sat before God, Bible open, journal spread out, pen in hand, and I very carefully told Him what my emotions were saying, evaluated the reality of the situation, and allowed Him to do the rest, as He often does. Though at the end of my time with Him, after looking up specific verses and keeping them in the front pocket of my coat, to remind me of who He is and how He loves me and what He thinks about all of this, I still felt heavy with emotion. I’d brought myself to the logical end of where He wanted me to be, and I was ready for Him to prove me wrong in all my state.
Before I left, Jacob brought me a piece of good news from South Korea, and, as with every mark of light he presents to and strives to share with me, I was excited and thanked God for His love for Jacob and for His love for me and how He proves it every day, even though my feelings were trying to tell me otherwise, and, as I struggled with those, Satan pressed on me my past, my incapabilities, and my weakness.
I walked to church this morning, trekking across slush-covered sidewalks and moving through subtle wind. On my way to Grand Army Plaza, I ran into one of the Christians from campus, whom I don’t get to see often. She was on her way to church in Manhattan and her excitement to see me and willing to recognize me was encouraging 🙂 We hugged and chatted for a moment or two before I recommenced my walk and her bus came.
Normally I would walk with music in my ears, but this morning, because I needed to focus, I kept my headphones out and just listened to the sounds of Brooklyn. But it was incredibly quiet. I didn’t even pray. I just listened and rested in Him, because I knew He was there, and that He had something to say. No battle this big would be won with a small weapon, and God’s revelation was no small weapon.
Finally, I reached Grand Army Plaza, struck with the beauty of it all. As I maneuvered through the first back trail of Prospect Park, I smiled at the heavy snow covering the grass. But it was when I came through a tunnel beneath a bridge and landed myself out on the other side, facing fields and fields of a glistening surface, ebony lampposts, running dogs and smiling owners, the sun piercing shadows, I just wanted to cry.
“Why would You do this for me?” I wondered, though I knew the answer.
And so I walked.
I reached the church and I sat in Sunday school and enjoyed the conversations I had with my church people 🙂 I was still struggling and still ignoring all that my emotions had to say, fighting against all that Satan had to say, and searching for the only Voice my heart yearned to hear.
During morning service I sat with Joselyn, a new young lady come to visit our church in hopes of working at the school there. She was lovely 🙂 and we had wonderful conversations.
In between services, Rebecca and I went to an Indian place on Church Ave., to which I’ve been several times now and still for the life of me cannot remember it’s name. We talked about work, about school, about the upcoming generations as well as society, about God and about His awesomeness. We also talked about how the other night I was looking for the idiom “out-of-shape” in my dictionary and it wasn’t in there, so I then proceeded to weep because Encarta had let me down.
Anyway! I ate ka-chori (I still don’t know the ingredients of this dish, though it’s only thing I’ve ever eaten at this place) and garlic naan and rice. We sipped on Marsala tea and sat by the window. It was some much-needed girl time 🙂
After afternoon service, Sam and Maria drove me home. I can’t describe how grateful I am for their continuously being generous to me. I still desire to take care of myself and not need the help of anyone, but people much older and wiser than I still remind me that I’m twenty-years-old, in college, and a good distance away from home base. It’s okay. And God continues, though it’s uncomfortable and I really just can’t stand it, to break this in me, attempting, it seems, to maintain a tender and humble heart in a naturally calloused, angry, and prideful woman.
When I arrived on campus, and when I walked in through the door of my dormitory, I felt nauseated and sick and immediately forced myself to sleep. Two hours later I woke up feeling much better and much more able to focus. I talked with my mom for a bit and then went to grab dinner with Bree. Coming back to the dorm, I sat down and, because I’d finished all of my homework for the weekend, pulled out my Bible, Packer, and Tozer. I’ve been trying to practice taking my free time and devoting it more to refreshing my brain instead of doing mindless things like scrolling through Pinterest or being on Facebook or even writing. All of these things are wonderful, and I do very much enjoy Pinterest 😀 but there’s a time for these, I’m learning, though I’m still learning when that time is.
This might seem a bit extreme, but my brain is a very complicated place. Thankfully God’s grace and His tender hand have made my heart less so, but both still require constant attention and constant turning over to Him. Hence, the extremity 🙂
As I studied, and as I read, I also deliberately looked up verses about failure. Every verse I found concerning failure wasn’t so much about the devastation of failure, but rather the appropriate response to failure. Philippians 4:4-7 stuck in my head.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I realize this doesn’t just come out and say “Hey! Don’t feel bad about failing! You got this!” But it branded itself on my heart. Packer said, “I need not torment myself with the fear that my faith may fail; as grace led me to faith in the first place, so grace will keep me believing to the end (Phil. 1:29).”
And I sat at my desk, nearly in tears, realizing that I had failed no one. I realized that God loves me even though I feel so incapable and so lost at times, even though sometimes I don’t think before I speak, or, like now, am not myself and say the wrong things when, should I be myself, my natural instincts often prove true by His tender will and influence on my heart. He loves me, and comforts me when I can’t stand it, whatever it may be. When I just feel like I can’t do it by myself, when I look at the future and the past and all that’s happening, whether good or bad, and feel like I have no control over any of it, He reminds me that He’s here, and it’s okay, and I’m okay, and He holds my so very fragile heart in His hands, protecting it and healing it and strengthening it when I feel weakest.
When I have nothing else, I have God, and it’s then that I realize I have everything. I realize that I am so fiercely protected and so valiantly won that the enemy has no claim on me and never will, though he attempts to condemn me on a daily, even hourly basis. I realize that God in all His awesomeness never begins something that He does not intend to finish. He never makes a promise He does not intend to keep. And He means it when He tells me “You are Mine.” I belong to Him, and He is victorious, He’s already won, which means I, by default, am living in His victory.
So even though I don’t always know what to say, how to comfort, how to counsel, how to understand, or how to talk, even though things don’t always make sense to me, even though I might feel like I fail, God has purchased me and made me His, which gives me the confidence to trust that when He picks me back up, dusts me off, reminds me of who I am, and walks with me to the next obstacle I will inevitably have to face, though never on my own, I have the chance to do that. And I will walk forward, because He’s there, because He’s the One holding my hand and keeping me safe, my Knight in shining armor, my valiant King, and the One who holds my heart, completely.