Finding Confidence After Failure

“All I do is fail, let people down, disappoint, lie and mess up. How could you ever use me, God? And even if you did, why would you even want to? I’m a mess.”

I don’t know about you but negative self talk comes very naturally to me. I’ve always been a pen to paper planner. I’ve always been an ‘A+’ student. I want to excel. I want to be the best version of myself possible. I want to break generational curses, be set apart, used by God and if I’m being honest, I desire to end up reaching perfection at the end of the process, which is such an unattainable goal. I WANT! I WANT! I WANT!

Every time I end a day thinking “Okay Cheyanne, tomorrow you’re gonna do this! You’re going to be great! You’re going to start those habits you’ve been putting off and make time for your friends and start cultivating some new skills. Tomorrow, you got this!” and then I fail to stick to that game plan, I feel a sense of defeat that weighs on me for days. It’s a self-awareness curse. Knowing where you can improve, knowing the exact plan you can put into action and then still repeating the cycle you’ve grown accustomed to. And in the middle of the storm – in the middle of the self-hate and the guilt trips, I feel God speak to me and say: All I do Cheyanne, is WIN.

Isn’t that SO good?! That even WHEN we fail, God still holds the victory. God is a step ahead. God knows the path we’re on and the one He’s leading us to. He knows the beginning, middle and end of our life’s journey. Now, don’t confuse this revelation as being one of permission for laziness and sin. God is a winner and nothing we ever endure, experience or even feel is too much for Him. But change requires action. Knowledge without application is futile. If you’re like me and you struggle with balance, feelings of inadequacy and a burning desire to replace certain habits with more productive and fruitful ones, then YOU have to make the decision to do that. But please know that with God in the middle of all of our highs and lows, we can NEVER lose. This isn’t a “name it and claim it” philosophy. This isn’t positive affirmation rooted in self-help. Not at all. This is believing that God – the same God who runs this entire universe – in the middle of my life can help me create positive and lasting change that will redirect the entire course of my life. And the same is true for you.

The secret to not caving under the pressure we can often times place on ourselves when we’re not “measuring up”? Stay plugged in to the true vine. Stay plugged in to the source of love, victory, strength and peace. God is ready to take over! I imagine Him speaking over us saying, “I’ll break those chains! I’ll help you break those bad habits. Just look to me and you will start to redefine how you see yourself. All I do is win and all I have is yours.” Remember that Jesus declares in Matthew 11 that HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light. Surrender the pressure to Jesus. He never asks us to carry that, especially not alone.

Some advice? If defeat leads you to isolation, just start showing up even when you don’t feel like it. Show up to church, to meetings that you think are optional. Continue to serve on the team that you think doesn’t matter or make a difference. Continue to pour into your friends and family who don’t see you the way you want them to. Continue to cry out to God in your quiet places. God wants us to rely on Him. He never forgets us or leaves us behind.

The prodigal son mentioned in Luke never imagined he’d get a second chance with his father. On his journey back home after squandering his inheritance and “messing up” royally, he probably kept thinking to himself, “there’s no way my father is going to take me back. Look at all I’ve done! I’m a mess. There’s no way he’ll love me now.” And he no doubt was left speechless when he arrived home to a tearful father with open arms, not desiring to hear a practiced speech or apology but ready to embrace his son with love, gifts and celebration. The father wasn’t concerned about what he’d done to end up back home. He didn’t give him a speech about how he should be LUCKY that he had a father who cared enough. He called on his servants to bring him a clean robe, new sandals and get the calf they’d been fattening to celebrate his son’s return. I truly believe that’s the ultimate depiction of our God. He’s ready whenever we are to embrace our return. Despite our hang-ups and mistakes, He’s ready to celebrate whenever we decide to trust Him enough to lean on Him.

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We’re only human. We will ALL fall short of the glory of God on a repetitive loop. We’ll all feel like we don’t fit the bill or cut it for the Kingdom. When we get a little bit lazy or stop giving 100%, God sees the potential in us. Dig in to who God says you are. Not the whispers in your head that you and the Enemy debate about at all hours of the day. Listen to the whisper of our Heavenly Father’s loving voice that speaks nothing but life. That creates supernatural confidence that inspires purpose and changes heart posture that eventually leads to new habits.

Friends, you’re not who the Enemy keeps convincing you that you are. You’re not your past. You’re not your screw-ups. You’re not your failures. You’re a worthy child of the Almighty King who reigns and rules over all. YOU are Heir to the throne. Stand up tall, brush off the shame, guilt, embarrassment and walk around with rich kid audacity and confidence. It’s not OVER until GOD claims the victory. It’s not over until God says it is. It’s not over until God wins because that is ALL He knows how to do. Get up and start again. His mercies are new EVERY single morning which gives you and I a chance to turn from our old ways and start walking a new path – not tomorrow but today. If you believe it, you have a shot to put it into practice right now! Don’t waste another day.

 

Jesus: The Ultimate Shepard

Have you ever thought, “Why would Jesus care about me? I’m just one person in a world of billions. What makes me so special that He’d intentional seek me out?” I know I have. Many times.

Ever since I decided to follow Jesus and commit to a true relationship with him, I have found myself constantly thinking about Jesus, his decision to die for ALL of us, and how I can bring that kind of incredible sacrifice and ultimate show of love into my day to day life. The problem for me though has not been seeing or accepting it. It has been truly believing that even when I fall or fail – and I will often – Jesus would still seek me out and he would still love me. This is evident in his parable in Luke 15.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

In this parable, Jesus is talking about a Shepard and his sheep. A Shepard leads and his sheep’s only job is to follow him. But a good Shepard would never let not even one of his sheep get lost. Every single sheep matters to him. And if one does get lost, he will do whatever it takes to find it and will rejoice when he does. This is our relationship with Jesus. He’s our Shepard, leader and King. All we have to do is set our sights on him, go where he leads and follow with obedience.

I’m not very familiar with the behavior of sheep. But I can only imagine that at times, they may feel the need to wander off course. As humans, that happens tenfold! Even when we make the decision to choose to follow Jesus – and it’s always a choice we make, not a demand – we will get sidetracked. We will choose to wander, setting our sights on the ways of the world. But the best news is, Jesus will find us wherever we end up. He’ll meet us right where we are because we matter to him. No matter how big the Kingdom of God gets, no matter how many people come to know Jesus, each individual person holds a special place in his heart.

Jesus cares for us because God cares for us. You’re not just one in a billion in his eyes. You’re THE one. He’d willingly leave the ninety-nine for you! Wherever you end up, whenever you veer off course, he’ll be right there to say “Hey, we’re going this way. Stay with me.” The more I see Jesus as my Shepard and gladly accept my role as sheep, all pressure is off. I don’t have to lead myself. I don’t have to control the path. I don’t have to worry about what everyone else is doing, if I’m going the right way or where I’m even going to begin with. All I have to do is hold my position in line behind Jesus, knowing he’s got me. Knowing I’m with him, I’ll never be lost. But even if it does happen, He’ll always come find me.