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Freedom to Fail

So if you have small children, you’ve probably been introduced to Laurie Berkner (and if you haven’t, you should be). Her music is complex enough not to feel your own brains dribbling out of your head while you’re listening to it, yet bouncy and designed for kids. The lyrics are fun, but often teach something. My girls listen to her Rocketship Run album quite a bit. Enough that the songs get stuck in my head, which is sometimes ok with me and sometimes not.

Anyway! I’ve been doing some thinking about failure this past week. It started whilst reading Making Small Groups Work: What Every Small Group Leader Needs to Know by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. In there they talk about one of the benefits of a small group is that the members “treat their failures as opportunities to learn instead of toxic opportunities to feel guilty, ashamed, or ‘less than.'” (p. 36) I’m always struck by the idea that failure is necessary for growth. Part of my upbringing was an aversion to failure because of what it said about you as a person. But that’s not the way failure should be. Failure should be an opportunity to learn. But, as Love and Logic parenting teaches, we can only learn from our failures if we feel secure (hence, the need for a safe, loving environment, like a healthy family or a small group).

In the midst of this I’ve had a Laurie Berkner song running through my head off and on. It’s called “Balance Beam” You can listen to the whole thing here. The pertinent lyrics for our discussion are: “I might trip and I might fall and that’s ok cuz after all I can get back up when I hear the call of my balance, balance beam… I might trip and I might fall and that’s ok cuz after all mom and dad will love me through it all on my balance, balance beam… ”

As Christians, we have that safety net to trip and fall, not because of who we are, but because of who our heavenly Father is. God calls us to be perfect as He is perfect, but Jesus came to give us a perfect record. When God looks at us, He sees Jesus’ perfection, rather than our imperfections. When Jesus died, He bought up all our sin and all the consequences of that sin–He works our failures into something beautiful and good, something that’s for our best. I realize that we’re not supposed to emulate the Romans where Paul talks about them sinning so that grace can abound, however, I’m a little jealous of that gung ho confidence that my sin and failures can be good.

We know that God uses our failures. We know that He loves us and will love us even when we fail (while we were still sinners, Christ died for us-Rom 5:8). We know that He sees our frailty, our penchant to sin and make mistakes; He knows that we are dust and has compassion on us as a father has compassion on his children. We have the security necessary to fail and the knowledge that failure is not life-threatening (as I once believed).

It’s so interesting, isn’t it? The world sees Christians as uptight and full of rules, yet, as children of God, we are more free to fail than anyone else.

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