“What happens if I fail?”
“You will fail. You are a broken sinner. But we – and God – will show you grace.”
Almost three weeks ago, I moved to Pennsylvania to intern at a Jesus camp. I would be lying if I didn’t say I have been extremely anxious about my place here. I don’t know this camp like my coworkers do [I’m the only intern who has never worked here previously], I don’t have much experience doing the behind-the-scenes work that I’m going to be doing. These first few weeks have been full of new information and new faces and new roommates and coworkers and new challenges and new fears tackled that I never knew I had before. I’m constantly overwhelmed because I keep coming back to the idea that I will fail.
On the second day of work, we were training on team-building and the six of us interns sat down to debrief. When we spoke on what we are afraid of, I was quick to raise my hand. I was quick to share my fear of failing, my fear of not being enough or not being what someone expected or wanted. I feel this constant need to be “perfect,” but somehow, in that process, I get further and further away from what I wish I could be.
I said to them: “I’m afraid of failing.” And then they told me that I will fail.
I will fail. I am broken. I am a sinner. It’s the nature of the beast. I am not perfect and it is completely guaranteed that I am going to fail. I will make mistakes. I will fall down, I will miss the mark I have set for myself. I will accidentally seek to serve myself instead of the Lord, I will accidentally struggle to do what I know is right, I will hate myself for not being what I wish I could be.
But the beauty in these hard truths is the beauty of the Lord. He will give me grace. He will love me through my brokenness and He will make me whole again. The value of my life does not lie in what I know or what I do – right or wrong -, it lies in how I serve others and how I serve the Lord. His grace has brought me a community of people who live this grace out in their daily lives. From the six beautiful souls with whom I share an office, to the hundreds of strangers that come visit our hill, to the little group of high school freshman girls I spend Wednesday evenings with, I am constantly reminded of his grace through these people.
My roommates and I ended up on the kitchen floor the other day. We sat in a circle and shared our testimonies, our life stories, what college was like, what our friends were like. We did the typical “we laughed, we cried” thing (like, I did laugh and I did cry, okay?) and we all apologized. We apologized for the length of our stories, we apologized for sharing low moments and dark moments more than the high and light ones. We apologized for being who we are because, for some reason, we feel the need. We each feel like burdens because we are not perfect and we are the first to remind ourselves of that. We see our failures first and we see ourselves as for the valleys and not the mountaintops.
You see, I’ve tried for so long to fix things myself, to put myself on a pedestal and hope that I wouldn’t fail because I “know God.” But living my life for the Lord doesn’t mean I don’t fail, it means that when I do, I have to let Him – and those around me who He has placed here – help me onto my feet again. We see ourselves as burdens because we are broken sinners. However, the Lord loves us through our brokenness, through our sins, and never ever sees us as a burden. I am not a burden and neither are you. You should never feel the need to apologize for who you are.
Yes, you are going to fail. I do, daily. I failed at work the other day when I swaged a ferrule in a weird direction while building a backup belay cable for a Nitro X. I failed as a daughter when I was visiting my dad at the hospital a couple weeks ago and he made two requests and I left one of them at home. I failed as a sister when I moved and left my orange flower behind, making my brother take care of it. I failed as a friend when I let my self-serving tendencies get in the way of the heart I truly have for the people I love the most. I constantly fail and it scares me because I forget that I am not alone in this.
These last few weeks in the mountains has taught me that the best thing we have been provided with is the community you create whose purpose is showing grace and building a bridge from the world to the Lord. Yes, the Lord shows me grace, but He shows me this grace through the people I choose to surround myself with. Living, working, and learning in this community of believers is showing me more and more what it means to be filled with His love and what it means to show others’ grace in His name.
“For where there are two or three gathered in My name, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20
I will never overcome my failures, I will never be whole, I will never be relieved of feeling like a burden if I do it alone. I will; however, be shown God’s grace and be shown my purpose here if I am surrounded by those who show me His constant love. God is greater than any of this, than any of my failures. I may feel in the lowest of any valley, but He will be the one to lift me up and to show me just how loved I am, just as He will do for anyone and everyone who looks to Him.
I am broken, but I am beautiful. I may feel like a burden, but I am never a burden in His name. I will fail, but a failure with my face facing the Lord isn’t a failure; it’s a reminder of His unconditional love and power to make all things new. I will accidentally turn from Him, but thanks to the community I have around me, I am shown that you can never be too far gone to come back Home. As I continue to mess up, I will turn not to my own selfish desires but I will turn to the Lord in the knowledge that He surrounds me with grace and He has surrounded me with souls who are just as broken, but even more beautiful than I.