Dear Cam and Scott
Last week, you used your ‘give’ money to buy bread and make sandwiches for some jobless, homeless people in our neighbourhood. I tried to explain the whole teach-a-man-to-make-a-sandwich-and-you-feed-him-for-life concept, and that handouts wouldn’t solve poverty in our city. But you were so excited. You were so convinced you couldn’t fail.
Also last week, I got a nasty blog-related social media message. It made me want to go to bed with a lot of chocolate and stop writing forever. I was so convinced I had failed, and would fail again.
But then a friend’s question re-surfaced:
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
It’s the most brilliant question.
It strips away fear. It makes me honest with myself about my truthiest truths. It reveals whether any restlessness I feel is dissatisfaction – the discontent of ingratitude and entitlement – or dissonance, which is (according to same friend) an inconsistency between my current reality, and my potential.
Dissonance in our lives is like dissonance in music: a lack of harmony – a clash – a tension that needs resolving. That kind of conflict (in our lives – not necessarily in music) is inspiring and encouraging. It’s the opposite of complacency, which is boring and disappointing.
And yet sometimes we just avoid the dissonance. We compensate for the frustrations – the tensions and inconsistencies – instead of engaging with them. When our lives tilt uncomfortably, we push back against the gradient. We don’t want to lean in and risk imbalance – overbalance – failure.
So, you and your sandwiches are helping me to remember that –
Jesus gave us abundant life. That means there’s too much of it. We can’t even fit all of it inside of us. It spills out. We don’t need anything else to go our way to be able to say, ‘Now I’ve got enough life.’
This is just the truth of the great success story that is the Cross: God’s free gift of life is Jesus Plus Nothing. We need to do, earn and achieve exactly nothing to get it, which means there’s no risk of failure when it comes to our earthly purpose and our eternal destiny.
So, why the fear of what others will think or how things will pan out or if we’ll really make a difference? Why the fear of failure?
Of course, it’s not about whether or not we’ll fail. We will absolutely fail. A lot. That’s life. We’ll also, I feel quite sure, get whole bunches of things right.
But knowing what I would do if I knew I couldn’t fail keeps me showing up at keyboards and microphones and other potential failure fests. It keeps me sane. It keeps me happy. It makes me brave. And it gives me hope.
I’m praying that you’d keep asking yourselves this question. I’m praying that you’d keep living like the stakes are low, the dreams are big and the risks are worth it, so that you’ll be conduits of who God is in a hurting world.
All my love,
. . .
Have a marvellous week.