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.

 

My Cup Runneth Way Over

We all have a breaking point.

If you’re anything like me, it may take you a while to get there. A bad day may result in a bad mood that lasts a week without an identifiable reason. You might start rolling your eyes at things that would normally never bother you or yell at someone over an innocent mistake. You may be really good at saying “I’m doing great!” when someone asks how you are even though you know you’re so far from.

Being vulnerable has never been my strong suit. I grew up surrounded by strong, independent and seemingly emotionally steady women who never needed anything from anyone, especially not their pity. So you can imagine my fear when I started to feel my emotions coming to the surface at 2x speed in front of all to see at the end of a lovely day at church on a random Sunday. One right person asks “how are you?” and suddenly, I’m weeping in my hands. The weight of every burden I had been carrying for weeks suddenly too heavy to carry any more. Before I could stop myself, I’m sharing the intimate truths of my life in front of people who’ve never seen anything except my very best, even some people I had never seen or spoken to before in my life. And I’m horrified. “STOP CRYING RIGHT NOW!!!” is all I kept thinking. “YOU LOOK DESPERATE. YOU LOOK STUPID. EVERYONE IS WATCHING AND YOU’RE SHARING TOO MUCH!” But it was too late. I’d already been showered in prayers, showered in love and showered in an unexpected blessing. I’d also already smeared my mascara and there was no turning back after that.

I look back on that moment and I still cringe. Even though I don’t regret it, I do think there’s a lesson to be learned from it. Life will always be full of burdens that we should not try to carry alone or in our own strength. Finances that are sinking fast, health that took an unexpected dip, family members in trouble that you are in no position to help, a country drowning in negativity. We are simply not strong enough to bear these burdens. If we try and consider ourselves self-sufficient, it’s only a matter of time before our back breaks from the load and our mood shifts, our emotions sink and our cup overflows. That moment of reaching my breaking point reminded me of the God I surrendered to when I decided to follow Christ. It’s the same one that says in Matthew 11:30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus died so that we wouldn’t have to bear the weight of our sin. He died so that we could know peace. Following Jesus means we have access to the Prince of PEACE. But we have to first trust Him!

Getting home that night, after my post-crying face showed the evidence of my heavy spirit, I felt renewed faith. What was missing in my life wasn’t everything I lacked or the settings that were all wrong. It was that I forgot for a moment who I serve. I forgot that daily time with Jesus is the only way to maintain my peace of mind. Going to Jesus first before trying to figure things out on my own is a daily commitment but one that reaps that most rewarding outcome. This is the beauty of community. I felt supported that day. While embarrassed, I also felt safe. There’s not a doubt in my mind that the breakdown happened that night in that environment because of God. It was as if God was saying, “I have you. I’ve put people in your life to support you. It’s okay to let your guard down.” Ultimately, I was reminded of what I already knew to be true. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Without him, our cups will always overflow, our burdens will always be too heavy and we will not truly feel the peace He has promised. Go to Jesus. Get on your knees in prayer. Open up the Bible collecting dust on your desk. Don’t be afraid to let people who care for you help you. Jesus has His hands out waiting for you. He wants nothing more than for you to find rest in his warm embrace.

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.

Lost & Found

Hurting. Broken. Insecure. Dependent. Lost.

Those are just a few of the words I would use to describe my life before I knew Jesus. I spent a good percentage of my younger years feeling like there was something missing, and looking for whatever that something was in all the wrong places.

I grew up going to church. I grew up believing in God and Jesus. My mom and I would regularly attend our local non-denominational church, I went to Sunday School every Sunday and I was even a part of the children’s choir. By the time I was old enough to make the decision of whether or not I wanted to go anymore, my visits became few and far between. Every week turned into once a month. Once a month turned into only on holidays. Only on holidays turned into never.

Once I got to high school and became more of an “intellect”and “rebel”, I started to view Jesus as less important. My faith became something that if I couldn’t see it or prove it, then why bother believing it? If the Bible wasn’t logical to me, why read it? In an attempt to “find myself” throughout my adolescent years, I kept Jesus in the back of my head – rarely ever giving Him a thought unless I was in desperate need – and found myself partying often, drinking a lot, and indulging in behavior that matched all of the cool kids. Being a part of a ‘crew’ meant you either did as they did or you did your own thing, alone. I yearned to please people. I craved the approval, attention, acceptance and love of others. If I wasn’t chasing a new school crush, I was looking for a new best friend. I wanted these things so much that if I went a day without them, I felt empty.

I can’t say that my life was in shambles. For most of it, I was happy. At least happy in a worldly sense. I had friends, a pretty active social life, a boyfriend in various stages or at least boys who gave me the attention I craved and school always went exceptionally well.

But something was always missing. There was a darkness that loomed over me day in and day out. This darkness resulted in me feeling uncertain of myself, regretful of the decisions I was making and feeling like no matter how on top or happy I felt, I would always return to the sadness. I often found myself in bed at the end of a long day with no one to talk to (despite having a lot of friends – go figure) and crying myself to sleep.

And my testimony began in that very stance. Hopeless and in tears.

As I look back, I realize that all the pain I’ve endured – friendships that ended suddenly and without cause, boys who no longer found me special enough to stick around and a sense of identity that was null and void – I see how every bit of it led me to my knees in surrender.

I never have to feel hurting, broken, lost or insecure ever again. Those are no longer words that connect to my identity now that my identity is found in Christ. That’s not to say that my past doesn’t creep in every so often trying to find it’s way in to break me down but now that I live for Christ, all of my burdens are at His feet. There’s nothing I can ever endure that He hasn’t already taken care of on the cross.

I’m still very dependent. But it’s no longer on people or things. I now strive to depend only on Jesus, the only one who stands close and never turns away. The only one who is the Prince of Peace and King of my Heart.

I’m not that broken girl anymore. Though I may be an adult now trying to navigate the hardships of day to day life – still trying to figure out my purpose and calling, I can rest easier than I ever have. I now live a life no longer trying to please anyone. Instead, I welcome fellowship as a way to build God’s kingdom and point people to a life of much less stress, anxiety, pain and fear. I no longer chase the things of this world or feel a yearning for the things I don’t have. My identity is in Christ. My faith, my hope, my joy, my love, my future, my life is in Christ. In Him, I have been set free and made new – receiving more than I could have every asked for or deserve. All other beautiful blessings that are guaranteed to come my way are mere bonuses.

Saved. Hopeful. Free. Beautiful. Found.