When Your Child is Hurting." I'm also continuing a week of giveaways in honor of Mother's Day. I'll tell you about today's gift at the end of my post.
I believe there are many adults today living far below their potential. Women have given up on dreams, stopped trying, and accepted mediocrity in areas of their lives because they haven't learned to deal with one thing: Failure.
Failure is so painful that we avoid trying out for plays, taking a harder class, stepping into leadership, applying for a better job, and the list goes on. Life is full of opportunities for growth that we avoid, in order to avoid pain.
When Dr. David Livingstone was working in Africa, a group of friends sent a letter saying, "We would like to send other men to you. Have you found a good road into your area yet?” Apparently, Dr. Livingstone sent this message in reply: "If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all."
Does God desire us to follow Him even when it seems impossible? Is He watching to see what we will do when we face a dead end, or failure? I think so. He’s looking for a follower He can trust to push on past discouragement when the going gets rough. Maybe we need to start training our children to deal with the pain of failure.
A few years ago I started an exercise program and wanted to quit a month into it. It’s probably because I’m the least athletic person I know. I’ve also been told I run worse than a girl and I’m pretty sure I flunked the President’s Physical Fitness test in grade school.
However, since I know in my head that exercise is the only path to getting stronger, I ignored my body’s protests and pressed on. Each week I discovered a new pain somewhere in my body … my shins, knees, and arms all groaned with the discomfort of being awoken from their sedentary state.
During one grueling exercise class, the instructor had us do a lower back exercise. At the first twinge of pain, I stopped. I knew that some pain could be dangerous and didn’t want to continue something that could be damaging to my back. Watching me stop, the instructor stooped down to my level with a questioning look on his face. “It hurts,” I explained.
“I know,” he answered. “This exercise is going to strengthen your back. Stop when you need to rest, but try it again. And each time, hold it just a little bit longer.”
My first instinct was to stop at the painful feeling. However, in order to get stronger, I had to experience the pain. In parenting my children to overcome failure, I’ve had to deal with this issue myself. It’s only in understanding how to push past all the devastating emotions of failure, that I’ve been able to counsel them in their darkest times. The pain of failure isn’t permanent, but the regret of quitting is.
James 1:2-4 confirms the importance of developing resolve and pressing on: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” If the disciples needed to “develop perseverance” then it must take practice, even for the most disciplined of us.
As I have pushed through the pain of life, especially discouragement and failure, God has revealed His faithfulness to me on the other side of the pain, time and time again. Obeying when God hasn’t revealed the steps along the way or the final destination is challenging. But when we choose to walk by faith and not by sight, God gets all the glory in the end because we KNOW we couldn’t have done it on our own!
I've had to teach my children to accept failure as a part of life, not an end to a dream. I've had to model pushing past "failure" and looking for God's redirection at what looks like a closed door. Years ago, when my first book proposal met with "no's" all the way around, my friend Lysa said, "Just because a publisher says no doesn't mean God is saying no."
Our attitude towards failure will greatly impact our children's attitude. Today, I'll be giving away a Starbucks gift card at random. To win, share some ways you've learned to deal with failure. I'll pick a winner over the weekend and announce it on my blog on Monday.
Check back tomorrow when I finish this series from my book, "When Your Child Hurts" with some thoughts on helping children overcoming insecurity.
In His Love,