What’s scarier than failing? For me, it’s trying.
The effort it takes to intentionally press toward my success, and then still fail, is what I fear. Employing the entire gamut of my best intentions, efforts, skill-sets and connections only to be met with failure is crippling. I am a failure because the totality of “my best” was unsuccessful. This kind of mentality is bankrupt of hope. I had a friend in college who would say, “just do your best: you’ll feel good about your work when you do your best and get the corresponding results.” That was her experience. If she tried, she did well; her efforts were positively correlated to her results. Conversely, I think the Lord was building my character (ha!). I tried and would be met with disappointment in average grades at best and atrocious grades at worst. My mind reverberated with, “if my best wasn’t good enough, then I must not be good enough.” And so, I simply stopped trying.
It is a crushing experience to attend an Ivy League school feeling like an imposter, always. My reality became actively questioning my intelligence and worthiness. I remember progressively transitioning into a dark place. Fighting it in the beginning, then slowly but surely slipping, agreeing with my failure. I agreed with the thoughts that I am not smart enough, ambitious enough, or even Christ-like enough to be where I was or to move forward. I agreed that it must have only been the grace of God that got me into Cornell. The skin of my teeth and the university’s need to fulfill its diversity quota were contributing factors. I agreed that when it came to staying at and excelling at Cornell, God’s grace must have run out for me. He left me on my own to try. And try I did, and fail I did. At least, in my mind because I compared my journey, interests, and progress to that of my peers’.
In retrospect comparison suffocated me. There is a cute phrase circulating on social media that reads, “comparison is the thief of joy.” I would like to extend that. Comparison is not just the thief of joy. Comparison is a killjoy. Comparison outweighs what God is doing in your life, skewing it unfavorably and unrighteously, suffocating hopes and stifling dreams. Comparison is a lie. The Word of God states, “The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him” Proverbs 1:1. Comparison cheats you of the substance of your calling. Comparison cheats you of the substance of your life. We say that we protect our joy, but do we? Right after hearing an encouraging message about holding on to the promises of God in committed communion with Him we get on Instagram and begin the comparison game once again. No wonder our victory is short-lived. Understand that we cannot avoid noticing someone else’s blessing, but we can renew the perspective in which we weigh the substance of the circumstances. Rather than feeling sorry for our “lack” and ourselves, let us rejoice with someone who has been blessed with something we desire. Let us recognize what we have. Let us thank God for what only He can give and has given us. If we are facing a day or season where all we can say is “thank you God for life,” that is more than enough. If we have life, we have it more abundantly in Christ. All we need is to believe.
I am not suggesting that we “play pretend.” I am saying that the reality is that God has heard our prayers and Him being the good father that He is, will answer them. Let us exercise patience as we wait for the physical manifestation of our prayers as it unfolds in the events of our daily lives. Let us not lose heart because it did not happen immediately or in the time frame we had wished for. Let us choose daily the perspective/attitude we go through life, which will determine if we have the correct tools to access the abundant life He has promised. So rejoice when major prayers have yet to be answered in your life - because they actually have. We just wait for the fulfillment of the promise. In pursuing the dreams God has placed on our hearts, it is imperative that we stop talking ourselves out of endeavors and initiatives but talk ourselves into them. Do it. Write it down and save it for later. Nurture the dream by researching the topic. Tell friends who you trust who will nurture the dream and help you protect it by keeping you accountable to it or praying for its fruition and your perseverance.
Decide to believe God and trust Him. Protect the truth about God and who you are in your heart. Let that be your reality and not the half-truth lies.
Recognize that fear will simultaneously hold you back and put you at risk so Remove your past from your future. Those past failures are: a.) in the past, and b.) part of your education in the University of Growth in Christ.
Engage and entertain the dreams God has placed in your heart. Fight for them daily (as in today) and be intentional.
Assess which dreams are for right now and which ones are best to be kept safe for later. Don’t let those dreams die either. God placed them on your heart because He has it in store for you, but He isn’t telling you to get there, He’ll get you there. Nevertheless, keep fanning the flame. (Disclaimer: It is also okay to let go of some dreams and give them back to God seeing as how it is on His heart and He actually cares about seeing the dream come to fruition more than we do. He always cares more.)
Maintain the flame. Write it down, take actionable steps. Feed the flame with courage, supportive people, and corresponding research and prayer.
Starve the flame of self- and God- doubts because those fears will dampen the flame.
D.R.E.A.M.S. means you have to try! Don’t be afraid to try. Why? Because greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world.