i have lived a safe life.
my life has been far from dull, but it has been safe. comfortable. easygoing.
growing up, things came easy to me. well, for the most part. i had little patience for practice and hard work. i wanted to be the best immediately or not bother at all.
i am afraid of failure.
the fear of failing has plagued me my whole life.
i may or may not have some deep-seeded, repressed memory that led me to develop this fear. frankly, it doesn’t really matter. as my wife often asks me: will knowing why change anything?
the answer is no.
even if i knew the root of my fear i’d still be afraid.
intellectually, i grasp the senselessness of fearing failure. nobody’s perfect. everybody fails at one time or another. often more than once. in my mind, i know all this.
but my heart is a different matter.
whenever i mess up or fail, i internalize it, draw it into my heart. i dwell on it and berate myself for it.
on the scale in my heart, my failures far outweigh my successes.
because of this heavy weight, i have spent much of my life as a wallflower.
i have spent my life standing on the sidelines of life’s high school gymnasium watching others dance.
i have spent much of my life planted firmly in my comfort zone.
i’ve had occasional forays beyond the safety of my comfort zone. and, yes, not all of those trips ended in failure. in fact, many resulted in an expansion of my comfort zone.
and though a comfort zone is just that – comfortable – truly living requires us to face discomfort and, yes, failure.
remaining in perpetual comfort weakens us.
when we do not experience the pain of failure our lives atrophy.
i experienced this firsthand over the past two years. clinging to my comfort zone led to a deterioration of my mind, body, and soul. even while mired in the depths of depression, i clung to my comfort zone. i was afraid. though deeply in pain and desperate for a change, i did nothing.
rather than act and walk into the unknown and risk failing, i chose to stay mired in the pain that i knew, the pain with which i was familiar. in other words, though it brought me great pain, i knew what to expect.
but i have read and heard countless times that the only way to grow in life is through pain and suffering and failure.
in a strange way, i wonder if failure is god’s way of drawing us closer to him. not that our creator wants us to fall flat on our faces. at least, i don’t believe he does. but he knows such is the way of broken beings like us.
despite the world’s and humanity’s brokenness, god makes use of it all. it reminds me of a prayer i read once in a brennan manning book.
“may all your expectations be frustrated, may all your plans be thwarted, may all your desires be withered into nothingness, that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of god who is father, son, and spirit.”
i don’t wish failure or pain on anyone – least of all myself – but in order to grow, in order to live, in order to draw nearer to our god, we must experience the pain that failure brings.