It’s the butterflies in our stomachs, lump in our throat and anxieties of the unknown that often keep us from starting something new, learning a new skill or stepping out of our comfort zones into the unknown.
But sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes it is there, standing on the edge of going forward or staying put that we can learn valuable lessons of who we really are and what is dictating our future.
When I was graduating from college and my undergraduate program, I was overwhelmed with a sense of dread. I felt as though I was being thrown to the wolves of adulthood, where I’d surely get swallowed up. So instead of taking the challenge head on, I opted for grad school in order to put off the inevitable, getting a real job.
But instead of finding a program that I could sink my teeth into and feel as though I was gaining something for the money I was spending, I found myself enrolled in a program that the school was in the midst of phasing out; one important fact that they forgot to mention to me until I was already settled into my first semester.
The responsibility to find equivalent classes landed in my lap as I sat in a tiny dorm room hours away from home and my support group of family and friends. It was there I learned that I had a choice. I could give up on this pursuit of the goals I set for myself, because I was too afraid to do what was expected of me, or I could go home, money already spent and enter into a career that I did not feel prepared to do.
“What if our hesitations aren’t road blocks but starting points?”
Though committing to pushing through to achieve my graduate degree, no matter how mismatched my transcript would appear in the end, was essentially a cop out on the career I spent six years preparing for, I learned valuable lessons during that time.
One lesson I learned was during the summer of 2007, when I worked as a church camp counselor. Our ropes course instructor gave our staff a short “pep talk” before we attempted the course ourselves, the week before campers would arrive. It included the concept of failing forward.
Sounds counter intuitive, right? It is normal to think of failing as going backwards, but this concept capitalizes on the fact that with each attempt (even if it is not successful), you are placed in a position that puts you that much closer to reaching your fullest potential.
It’s a concept that has stuck with me over the years when I think back to times that I took the easy way out or didn’t achieve the results I was going for. Ultimately, no matter the result of those circumstances, those experiences have helped me to grow into the woman I am today.
And this thought process can be easily applied to our walk in faith. Each of us have our own baggage. Often times that baggage is so unbearably heavy that we struggle to carry it on our own. But we have to remember that no matter what the past holds, it has brought us to this very moment, to where we are right now, and though it may be hard to admit, we are stronger for bearing those burdens.
And that is the beauty of prayer. God allows you to release yourself from those burdens; to place them on Jesus’ back, for Him to carry for you. And He does it willingly because He loves you. But even though it is a liberating thing to commune with God through prayer, it’s often times not the easiest thing to commit to.
“If you’ve never done it before, talking to God can feel weird.”
In the Spring Study Journal I share a variety of techniques to guide you in finding the best approach to prayer for you and your walk with Christ. It doesn’t have to be kneeling by your bed, hands folded, eyes closed and whispering “Christian-ese” to our heavenly Father. There are many different ways to approach our King.
At the same time, I fully understand that it’s sometimes awkward, even after years of having a relationship with Christ to approach Him.
“It can feel like an awkward first date. Am I saying the right things? Does He like me? What is He thinking right now?”
Years ago I did a video study with my small group on Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God. If you ever have the opportunity to read this book, do so, it can transform your faith in ways you would never expect!
One section of the study, in which this NYC pastor sits down with individuals of a variety of different backgrounds, faiths, including a few atheists, Keller shares the reason that Christians follow the teachings of Christ, even though it seems like an impossible task.
When you start a new relationship with someone you really like, your heart is in your throat and you start making adjustments to your daily living in order to be more accommodating and pleasing to your significant other, in hopes that they will make the same sacrifices for you.
We as Christians follow Christ’s teachings because we have been forgiven and have received mercy and grace. The sacrifice has already been made and so it is our way to say, “this is how much I love you, Jesus, and what you’ve done for me.” And in turn it becomes our desire to make sacrifices ourselves as our relationship with Him becomes a sort of anchor, holding us fast to our destiny.
And it is there, in the budding (or even thriving) relationship with our Lord that we can learn that failing forward is not counter intuitive at all. Instead it helps us to recognize just how much Christ has done for us through His ultimate sacrifice. And it can clearly demonstrate how our past regrets don’t have to be the weight that holds us down, but rather a spring board to launch us forward, closer to Christ.
Have you ever felt tossed back and forth, trying to please people in different worlds, searching for an anchor to hold you steady? Write down your experience in your Study Journal or a notebook and date it.
A little music for the journey…
Are you ready now? Listen to the words of this song and let it be your prayer to allow Christ to begin working to make things happen through you.
Supplies for the journey…
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