The Good Thing about Fear, Frustration and Failure

From Tony: Darrell has become a personal friend since moving down to plant a church here in south Florida. I’m excited to share this post from him today. If you’re interested in guest posting, you can find out more here.

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In the past four months of my life I got married, moved across the country, and joined a team of people planting a church in West Palm Beach, FL. Sometimes all the commotion and chaos leaves me wondering:

Wow, life is hard as it is. Why on earth am I doing this all at once?

Why would I step into a season where fear, frustration and failure are just plain inevitable? Isn’t life hard enough? Why would I choose to live through a season that I could have predicted — just with basic life wisdom — would be so uncomfortable?

The first answer is that God told me to, and I’m being obedient.

But the less obvious answer, the answer I’m learning as I walk through this difficult season, is that fear, frustration and failure are actually important parts of life.

I can spend my whole life avoiding fear, frustration and failure or, I can embrace each of these things and learn what they have to teach me.

Here’s why I am learning to embrace them.

Fear is just a feeling and feelings can’t hurt you.

Your fear can’t hurt you. The thing you’re afraid of might be able to hurt you, maybe. But what I find more often than not is that the object of my fear is less threatening than the fear itself.

What are you most afraid of? I’m afraid of being insignificant.

I’m recently married and for the first time in my life I’m working a very regular, Monday-Friday, 9-5, kind of job. I’ve never worked one of these kinds of jobs in my life before, not because I’m not a hard worker, just because it’s not really my style.

I like to do my own things. Start new, step out in faith and do something “courageous.” I was terrified to “settle” for a “regular” job.

Turns out courage for me, in this season, means doing something mundane in order to lead my family.

My fear feels real. I’m terrified that I’ll wake up one day, 40 years down the road and realize I accidentally got stuck. That somehow I forgot to stop dreaming, that instead I just woke up each day, left the house, and came home with nothing more to show for it than a few bucks I didn’t have when I started.

That would be my nightmare.

But the only way to realize that my fear wasn’t real was to face it. I had to get up, go to work, and realize that it isn’t possible for me to lose the drive that God has put in my heart to do something meaningful. To realize that I don’t have to choose between something significant and leading my family.

To realize that leading my family might just be the most significant thing I ever do.

Fear is a good thing because when we face our fear we realize that the fear actually doesn’t have the power over us that we thought it did. And when we realize that we become more powerful, more confident, more prepared to face what comes next.

Frustration.

I don’t know about you but I get frustrated pretty easily. Someone cuts me off in traffic and I’m outraged. The manager of my apartment doesn’t do what she says she will — for weeks — and I feel like cussing her out. Those are just the little frustrations.

Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds. For you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance, and perseverance must finish it’s work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2

Facing frustration builds maturity. It reminds me of my place in the universe.
I’m not in charge. I’m not the most important. My needs don’t come before the needs of others.

Frustrations slow me down.

It is only when I face difficulties and frustrations that I am able to come to maturity by owning my own response. Stuff happens. That’s a given. The only variable is my response.

How will I respond?

Will I be mature and complete, not lacking anything? Or will I respond in anger and immaturity? The only way to become mature is to embrace — rather than resist — my frustrations and to learn to control my response to them.

Failure.

Failure is part of life. You will fail. In fact, you’ll fail significantly more times than you succeed. You might risk big and fail. Or you might do nothing — and that will be your biggest failure. There is no such thing as a life without failure.

Failure is necessary and important and inevitable part of life.

Get used to it. Get over it.

Failure teaches us about our humanity. It isn’t good to live in a space where we believe we can’t fail. The result of that is called pride, which is what got Satan kicked out of heaven, it’s what got Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden, and it was the primary reason Jesus chastised the Pharisees.

Practice failure. Practice admitting failure. If you think you haven’t failed, you’re lying, which is failure in itself. Failure is a necessary and inevitable and important part of life.

Success requires failure because failure teaches you what you need to know to be successful.

When I have a conflict with my wife, I can feel defeated that I “failed” as a husband, or I can let my failure inform me. When I said ______, it hurt her feelings. Next time I won’t say that again. Or, I won’t say it in the same way.

If you always do what you always done you’ll always be what you’ve always been.

Failure is only dangerous if you don’t admit to it, and if you don’t allow it to inform where you’re going.

I’m walking through a difficult season, sure. I’m facing frustrations, definitely. There are opportunities for failure all around me. But I’m trusting that God is using it for something. How about you?

How is God asking you to face fear, frustration or failure?
How are you choosing to respond?

Darrell is a the president of Prodigal Magazine and church planter in West Palm Beach, Florida who believes in the power of stories to change the world. His life’s passion is to help people to tell their story so they can see and understand the truth of God at work in their lives. You can connect with him on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Just letting you know I’ll be pinning this on pinterest!
    Paula recently posted..On Celestial Music by Rick Moody Giveaway

  2. Love this, Darrell. I know we’ve talked about this a lot, but I totally get where you’re at because it’s where Matt and I are right now. I’m so thankful that none of us are alone in this, and that we’re helping each other reach toward that significance that God has called us to.
    bethany recently posted..Pedaling the Bicycle.

  3. Wow. Good stuff. I may have to re-read this when it’s not so early in the morning so that I can get it in my head… =)
    TJ recently posted..Motivation

  4. I resonate with so many of the fears you’ve mentioned. First off, the stress of “man, why am I doing all this stuff at once?” Hits me all the time. Constantly wrestling with the tension of productive for good, yet resting for good.
    Also the fear of being insignificant sinfully fuels my drive for success at times. I’m reminded to seek my identity in Christ, who’s already deemed me a success through His blood.
    Thanks for sharing so candidly- I dig it!

  5. There’s a lot of wisdom in this post. I’ve been struggling with some anxiety lately about some upcoming changes for us, and oftentimes the anxiety itself just builds and takes on a life of its own. Fear becomes so big because I fail to stop, breath, pray, and reflect on what I’m actually worried about.
    ed cyzewski recently posted..The Women in Ministry Series: In Which a Woman Was an Elder In a Baptist Church (Sort Of)

  6. You bring up some great points, Darrell. I’ve been doing quite a bit of writing about failure lately. In my own journey, facing my biggest failures has brought more “success” in my life then in success ever has…if that makes sense. Failure grows us and shapes us in ways success never can.
    Eileen recently posted..The Power of Words

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