Q Why do I Have to Have Failure?
a The Lord allows us to fail so we can learn from the experience and put that knowledge into a better quality of living. If He were to prevent us from undergoing any form of failure, any sense of achievement or any awareness that we are progressing and developing would feel artificial to us. We feel we are living from ourselves which gives us the ability to enjoy and embrace our spiritual progress. Let’s use an example of a young boy who builds a birdhouse on his own for the first time. It will probably be filled with errors and incorrect measurements. Yet, despite these mistakes, it is still a product of his efforts and he probably learned many things along the way that will make his next birdhouse better and quicker. It would be much different if his father did all the work and gave him the birdhouse. He would have it, but without any sense of ownership or achievement. Nor would he have a greater understanding of how to build one himself. Failing is actually necessary to continue to sense life as being from ourselves and to have a deeper understanding of how to live it meaningfully and prosperously.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).
Q Will I be Punished for My Failures?
a If we do not try to learn from them and seek to take corrective steps, we will not advance forward, but remain in the condition we have also been in. We are not punished directly from the Lord (as He does not punish), but at some point we will face the consequences of not changing our ways.
When we do recognize our failures and strive to learn from them, we will incorporate a better way of life. There may still be repercussions that we must accept for our failings, but we will come to have a personal and vivid perception of the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy toward us by the change we notice in our loves and what we delight in. In these new delights, we will recognize the Lord’s mercy and acceptance toward ourselves. Then the results of our failings are no longer regarded as punishments, but as acts of mercy.
Q How Do I Forgive Myself?
a We can apply the same practice we use to forgive others in forgiving ourselves. When we notice the other person is sincerely apologetic we acknowledge his current efforts and not continue to identify him by his past. This principle can be directed toward ourselves; we have to give ourselves permission to release ourselves from the burden of our past wrongs and permit ourselves to enjoy the services we are able to provide toward others. We can even enjoy the lessons we have learned from our failings that enable us to live a more effective life of goodwill. A proper form of remorse is not permanently berating ourselves and never permitting ourselves to find happiness again. Instead, we are to remind ourselves that the Lord is always forgiving and willing to lead us into a better and more abundant way of life. We should regard ourselves in the same manner. After we have failed and have gone through a period of remorse, taking responsibility for our actions, and making amends to those we may have hurt, we need to release ourselves from the guilt and engage in a new way of living. We are not to permanently define ourselves as the person we were when we failed.
Rev. Fred Chapin is currently the Pastor of the Sower's Chapel in Sarver, Pennsylvania. For more information, visit www.sowerschapel.org