I whole-heartedly jumped in so many activities fearlessly in my childhood, teenage, and college years, even when I absolutely sucked at said activities. My mom cheered the first time I got a foul during my short basketball stint because
- I was actually on the court
- I was in the right place on the court for the first time to have a chance at even getting a foul
Yet, I still proudly walked around with my status as a basketball player.
I look back at my 18-year-old self and can learn a few things from her. I gave a speech called “Failure is an Option.” That girl knew that it was okay to try new things and fail. She knew failure was a part of succeeding.
I look back at my pageant days. I both cringe and smile at the girl who confidently, happily walked in her first pageant interview wearing a red thrift store suit, while all the other girls were wearing tight dresses.
I know I’m not the only one who has had confidence slip away after becoming a mom. What is it about becoming a mom that makes some of us so scared to try and suck at something new? Does it all tie into redefining your sense of self after all of your priorities have shifted so heavily?
The more I’ve gotten to know God in my new life as a mom, the more confident I am in trying new things. The closer I get to Him, the more I can cooperate with his will and embrace the fact that His plan for me is so much greater than mine. The stronger my prayer life becomes, the better, more prayerful decisions I’m able to make and, therefore, act with more confidence with God’s discernment.
I know from experience that any confidence and sense of self we get from something other than God is fleeting. There’s no mantra, achievement, body, self-help book, or person that will ever give you lasting self-worth. I’m much less inclined these days to not go after an opportunity for fear of failure because my entire identity does not feel at stake in my goals.
I recently read the book of Exodus. To me, it was exciting reading about Moses going from the man that ran away from his staff when God turned it into a snake, to a man who leads a nation out of slavery. Through reliance on God and learning to trust Him and cooperate with His plan, Moses went from a man who was scared to approach Pharaoh to a man that was capable of guiding a very stubborn [and obnoxiously complaintive] group of people:
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:11-12 ESV
“Fail regularly, fail quickly, fail inexpensively” -Ken Coleman
I do a lot of research on high-level executives at my job. You can read their bios on their company’s websites and visualize this straight line that goes from the bottom, left side of the graph to the top, right side. When you go to their Wikipedia pages, you quickly see that line dove down and took a spin around the graph a few times. It’s inspiring. It’s so inspiring to see the small businesses they tried but didn’t make it or the nonprofits that just did not take off. It’s so inspiring to see that they kept dusting off their pants and moving on.
I’m happy to finally be gaining some of this momentum back in parts of my life through God. After spending most of 2020 watching all of my gardening seeds fail in my new love of gardening, my daughter and I picked an entire basket of pumpkins and gourds from our garden this month. After years of poor-quality images shooting in manual mode on my Canon DSLR, I’m finally getting some frame-worthy shots (about 3 out of every 250). I’ve been shut down approaching some of my local nonprofits with an idea, but I’m finally getting in a fun groove with my church and local animal shelter.
Not only have I accepted what my eighteen-year-old self already knew about failure being a part of life, but God is giving me the eagerness to fail and try new things. Bring on the failures and learning experiences.