Would you categorize your life as a success or failure? That’s a hard question. Most of us don’t necessarily think of our life as being successful because we know the truth of where we’ve been and where we are. And life hasn’t quite turned out the way we thought it would. But to say we’re a failure is self-defeating.
Our culture is all about success. Looking good. Feeling good. Having lots of stuff. Influencing others. Having a good job and the perfect little family. That’s success. Right?
It depends on your definition of success. And if you peel back the façade of people who have many of those things, their real lives are anything but successful.
We have to stop measuring our life against what culture says is successful. Instead, we should look at where we are today, where we want to be, and then begin thinking about what we need to change.
And we can’t sell ourselves short.
We may not be where we want to be, or where we thought we’d be at this point in our life. But many of us have come so far from the dark paths we once wandered. We should celebrate the small victories of getting off those old roads and getting on this path leading to new life. And for those of us still heading down the river of destruction, today is the day to jump ship and swim to a new shore. It’s not too late!
But what if?
If we decide to start down a new path, what if we continue to make mistakes? What if it’s hard to turn things around? What if we lose friends and family because of the new direction we want to go? What if we fail?
Here’s the easy answer: Yes. We will continue to make mistakes. It will be hard. We’ll lose friends and maybe even family because we no longer want to do the things we used to. It won’t be smooth sailing and there will be times that we feel like we’ve failed.
But failure is not another broken dream. Failure is a stepping stone to get to our dreams. And we get stronger each time we slip off and get back up again.
We may not want to learn by making mistakes. We may wish we could flip a switch or jump on the right bandwagon headed toward success. But nothing worth anything comes easy. And a successful life is not characterized by what we own. It’s characterized by how we’ve loved, how we’ve changed and grown, and how we’ve given to others.
For some of us, we may have been on a good path, but life as we knew it was destroyed by the decisions of someone else. We thought we had a wonderful life. And now we sit among the shattered pieces of our broken dreams. Devastated and bewildered. What happened? How did it come to this? What else could we have done?
If you’re in this place today, please know that you’re not alone. I sat there too, not long ago.
I was a Christian leader and my husband left me without giving a reason. After everything I had already endured in my real life, I thought it was the end. I couldn’t bear the shame of abandonment and another divorce. I thought my life could never be used again for any good purpose. I lost all hope. My life was a failure.
But shard by shard God took the broken pieces of my shattered life and put them together in a new mosaic. I couldn’t see the big picture of what He was creating. I knew He couldn’t repair the life I had. And He wasn’t trying to. Instead He was making a whole new picture. One far more beautiful than the one before as His light shines through it. My new life is completely for His glory, and I can’t take any credit for it.
God can do the same for you.
No matter where you’ve been or where you are. You are not a failure. And God can take the pieces of your life and make them into a new masterpiece far more beautiful than anything you could have created yourself. Go to Him. And put your life in His mighty hands.
“Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” Micah 7:8
May I pray?
God, by the world’s standards it seems like we have many more failures than successes. Thank you that Your standards for success are so different. Help us, Lord, to see our failures as stepping stones to something new. Give us the strength we need to get back up and keep going when we fall. And Father, I pray that You wrap Your arms around those who feel like their life has been shattered beyond repair. Hold them tight and speak to them. Let them know that You can redeem their life and make it beautiful. Amen.
Q4U: Looking back, is there something that used to look like a failure but was actually a stepping stone to your dreams?