I didn’t realize how deeply failure is wrapped in fear until last week.
On our drive out to the desert Nick asked me to listen to an audio book called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. The specific chapter he thought related to me was about 2 philosophies of thought. He believed that I fell into the category of having a “fixed mindset”. This type of mindset assumes that our character, intelligence and creative ability are static and cannot be changed in any meaningful way. I was quickly offended and immediately turned the radio off. After some heated remarks I begrudgingly agreed to keep listening.
The more I heard the more I saw myself in the words I had been denying.
I was believing that I was as good as I was ever going to be. I was believing that those who had to work hard at something only did it because they weren’t already good at it. It’s no wonder I never became the next Bach when it came to piano lessons…I never practiced because I thought I couldn’t get any better, I was destined to be mediocre. The reality hit hard and my mind raced with examples of the deep belief that I would always fail, be superseded by someone else, or be “just ok.”
As soon as the chapter ended I changed the subject but my mind never stopped racing over this new found reality.
It was fitting that I found myself stranded in the desert for the entire weekend. The days leading up to this trip had been stressful with defeating and uncontrollable circumstances that left me questioning my ability to succeed.
My heart and hope felt as desolate and unpromising as the desert surrounding me. I had failed someone, let people down, been assumed ignorant, my value been diminished and every challenge feel like a performance review. My perceived inability to “succeed” began seeping into my beliefs in every area of my life.
The next morning as we were hiking through the desert canyons, I realized this sweaty walk was actually symbolic. There was a promised oasis ahead, a bubbling spring of fresh water flowing from the middle of nowhere in this dry place. As we rounded every corner, I expected to get a glimpse of this oasis to sense how far we had come and how far I still had to go. When I was feeling like it would be easier to just give up and turn around (like always), we climbed around some rocks and I finally saw it, the lush oasis ahead.
As we made our way into the refreshing shade of these palms, smiles on our faces and cool desert water on our toes, I realized this was it. This is what I had begun to doubt. That there was still beauty in the desolate, that there was a promised land ahead. I was ready to give up on moving forward because fear had consumed me. I had forgotten that even if …., He is still good. Perfect love casts out fear, perfect love leads to promised oases. Perfect love means walking forward, pressing on and trusting that what’s ahead is good.
I felt like I was failing because I inherently believed I couldn’t get any better, be anything more or experience great success. I felt like I was failing because fear was blinding my faith.
I don’t have an easy 3 stop process for overcoming the feeling of failure, or a quick fix for not letting fear overwhelm you. But in the middle of the desert, in a place that felt hopeless I found an oasis, a place of paradise. I sat under uninterrupted night sky and and knew that even if ….,He is still good. Even if everything goes the way I dread, He is still good. Even if I completely fail, He is still good. Even if the world crashes around me, He is still good. My thoughts began to change, my heart started singing a new melody and this desolate place became a promised land. Even though you can’t always see the oasis ahead you have to keep walking, you have to keep believing, you have to move forward, fail gracefully and press on.
My song is Victory, because His song is Victory.