What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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,

Mom

. . .

Have a marvellous week.

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7 comments

  1. Beautiful reminder. Our kids have a lot to teach us about living fearless. I’m so sorry to hear about the criticism you received. Words can hurt so badly, especially to a writer and lover of words. I remember being quick to criticize a well-known blogger once, when I spotted something I felt was incorrect, but was then also quickly convicted to apologize, being reminded of how hurtful it can be, when we pour out our hearts to help people and then someone picks one thing in there to dwell on that they disagree with, rather than look for what is true, pure, kind etc. in there and speak in loving encouragement.

    Know that I have been greatly blessed by your writing, today’s post also (I need to remember this right now)…I don’t think we tell each other that enough. As writers, we are people who need encouragement too, don’t we? I’m so glad you have a truth-loving friend who encouraged you to not retreat in fear.

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  2. Oh Dalene, your writing means so much to me. You often say in 10 words what I would not be able to explain in a 100. You have an amazing gift. Don’t ever doubt that. But do the chocolate anyway! xxx

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  3. As a writer, artist, and a lover of music, I have come to understand the reality that one will never please everyone, or be appreciated for the hours of practice and dedication it takes to create something beautiful and inspiring. So, keep doing what God has called you to do; keep sowing the seed in faith, even if you cannot see the harvest. Writing can be lonely. Sometimes you may feel you have nothing in your heart to give, and the words just don’t come. At times like these, remember the people you are writing to. Your words may be the only healing, challenging and uplifting words they will hear.

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