Never Embrace Failure

It’s Narcissist Friday!

I have never been much of a hugger. As a child, I often felt trapped by the hugs of aunts or older ladies. My parents were not particularly physical in their expression of love. I did love to hug my mom and my grandmother; something was different about that. But hugging others always seemed odd.

Now that I have grandchildren of my own, I do want to hug them. I want to hold them and not let them go. My own children are long past that kind of physical connection, but time with the little ones seems so precious and so fleeting that I want to slow things down with them. I have to face the fact that my hugs might be a way to control my time with them. Perhaps that’s what I felt from others as a child.

To “embrace” means to “bolster” or “clamp.” No, I don’t usually think of it that way either. But the idea of a brace, something that provides support so another thing won’t move, is taken from the upper portion of the arm. When we wrap our arms around someone, we lock them in a hold designed to keep them.

Okay, maybe you don’t hug that way. Neither do I, when I stop to think about it. If the little ones want to slip away, I let them. But I do like holding them.

So, all of that is probably the wrong way to get into this post. I just have to ask:

Why do you embrace your failures?

If embracing is a way of hanging onto someone or something, a way of clamping it into position, then why would you embrace failure? Some of us do, don’t we? We remember our failures so much better than our successes. We think about them more, and we support those memories with clamps and braces. The stigma of our failures is never allowed to slip away.

I can remember stupid things I said from over fifty years ago. I have replayed embarrassing moments of my life over and over and over. If you tell me that I have done well with something, I can tell you about a dozen failures. But why?

No, contrary to what it might seem, I don’t love my failures. I don’t hold them for any positive purpose. I actually don’t want them clamped to me forever (and they won’t be!)

We rationalize our embrace of our failures. We say that we want to be sure not to do that again. We want to learn from our mistakes. We want to stay humble. Blah, blah, blah. All of that has been accomplished, but we still hold our failures tight.

So, what is it? Why do we embrace (clamp, cuddle, hold, grasp, cling, hug) our failures? Perhaps it is because they revealed something about us that we don’t like, a pain that we can’t or don’t want to understand. The simple truth is that we are not what we would like the world to think we are. We make mistakes. We make stupid and sinful decisions. We hurt others and ourselves. We often don’t accomplish the great things we would like.

Maybe we think that we can control the effect or consequences of our failures if we hold them tightly. Maybe that will make it so others can’t use them to hurt us. There are people who love to learn about our mistakes so they can bring us down and manipulate us. And, frankly, they usually learn about our failures from us because we carry them so closely.

Listen: if you let your failures go, others will not be able to use them against you, at least not as powerfully. It is your heart they are after. The fact of your failure is nothing. The effect of your failure on your heart is everything. When the abusers squeeze into the framework you have build to clamp your failure to your heart, they will use that to control you.

So, let your failures go. Yes, they were real. (Although, as I said in the last NF post, we may not even fully understand what failure or success is.) Yes, they hurt, maybe both you and others. Yes, you want to avoid the same thing in the future. Acknowledge all of that and let them go. You don’t need them next to you. You don’t need to share those things with others. You don’t need to keep punishing yourself.

You and I fail. That is one of the most common and most normal facts of life. We fail. So, let’s move on.

What should you do when someone brings up a failure from your past? Move on. You don’t have to argue or cry or apologize or freeze or run. You have already admitted that you fail. You have already felt all that you need to feel about that particular failure (and more). You can’t go back to undo it. Just move on. Walk away from the person who keeps bringing it up. Say or think that it has already been acknowledged. Then move on.

The truth is that you have no failures in God’s eyes. I know that’s not what some preachers say. But the forgiveness of God extended to everything you have ever done. It also extends to everything you will ever do. You are not your own Judge. You don’t have that place. Only One judges, and He loves you enough to let you move past any failure or sin.

And, remember, that thing you consider a failure might well be the thing God “used for good” in your life or in the life of someone else.

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