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.

 

How I Spend My Quiet Time as a New Christian

Truth bomb: Up until a year ago, I had never read the Bible.

I wish I could say that was just because I never had access to it, didn’t know of it’s existence or didn’t own one. But the truth is, I didn’t have any desire to read it. I was one of those people who thought the Bible was the most illogical thing ever, written to brainwash people into believing in something that had zero proof to back up its claims. I thought the Bible was a book read by old people to place judgment and shame on people who lived non-religious lifestyles.

Then I got saved and all I wanted was to open the Word. I craved knowledge. I craved wisdom and wanted nothing more than to draw as close as possible to Jesus and see the life he lived all those years ago. The desire I now have in my heart is almost comical to me. That’s one of the things that makes God so fascinating to me – He has a way of stirring at your heart in ways you would never have imagined.

Fast forward, I now own four bibles (not including the You Version Bible App on my phone) and through ALOT of trial and error, I have established a routine for my quiet time with Jesus that works for me. It took me months of trying to copy every Christian blogger’s routine for me to come to the realization that I learn in a very specific way and what works for someone else is not always going to work for me.

MY QUIET TIME ROUTINE.

Do it FIRST thing in the morning.

I find that the best time for me to have my prayer and reading time is to do it as soon as I wake up in the morning. On days that I have to get to work, I wake up an hour earlier than I need to just to make sure I get it done. I have tried squeezing it in during my commute or cramming it in before bed, but neither of those options worked for me. I’d get distracted or fall asleep. I believe that God deserves us at our absolute best and while I’m not a morning person, I can’t think of a better way to give thanks to our Father than making Him the first priority daily. Before I check Instagram, text messages or emails for the day, I feed my soul. It sets the tone for the entire day and when I skip it, I feel the difference in my mood. I recently found a way to make a little bit of a ritual out of my routine by making my morning coffee first thing! (note: I drink 100% decaf coffee due to my low tolerance for caffeine. I know, I know! I just love the flavor okay?!)

Limit distractions and take it seriously.

I try really hard to take my quiet time as seriously as I would take a morning meeting at work. I come into it prepared – my Bible, writing tools and notebook ready to go, and my heart expectant to learn and receive something new. I make sure that my phone is on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and my room door is locked. I don’t allow anything to distract me from receiving the fullness of this time with God. Anything that is vying for my attention can wait an hour.

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Use tools that ACTUALLY work.

For my actual reading, I use an ESV Single Column Journaling Bible that I got on Amazon! It was the very first Bible I bought for myself and after testing out every other kind and translation, I found that this one is my favorite. The single column format allows me to write any notes or observations I may have (I usually have alot) and I enjoy being able to have the space to not have to abbreviate or limit my thoughts. I also use this NLT Life Application Study Bible that I LOVE! This particular bible includes really helpful commentary for each verse. I try not to use this too often but when I’m feeling stuck on a particular section, I use this to help make it more clear.

[highlighters & markers] I use wax highlighters instead of traditional ink because they don’t bleed through the thin pages. I use these markers solely for my journal entries which I do after I’ve completed my reading for the day.

[pens] I use these Pigma Micron pens and absolutely love them! They are thin enough to not bleed through the thin Bible pages and they also make my handwriting nice and neat. For my notes, I use these. I like to stick with one kind of point size and color just to make sure all of my entries are consistent in the way they look. What can I say? I’m nerdy enough to think about these things!

[journal] I use this notebook from Michael’s for my journal entries. I have found that just reading scripture does not help me to retain information or make it personal enough to stick. I’ve started using this notebook as a way to bring the scripture to life and help keep it in my brain after the hour is over. I use a note-taking technique that I saw on Coffee and Bible Time’s Youtube Channel. I read one chapter of whatever book I’m studying at the time and my journal entry includes a summary of the chapter, verses that stood out or that I’d want to eventually memorize, ways to live out the scripture and a prayer that’s connected to how I felt after reading. This format works really well for me because it puts pen to paper which helps me not just passively read but allows me to make my reading as personal as possible. Just sticking to one chapter a day also helps me to not get too overwhelmed or confused. I treat my study time like I used to treat studying in college, except this kind of studying is much more fun and satisfying.

Start slow and find YOUR starting point.

Reading through my one chapter daily and writing one journal entry takes me anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour depending on if I read through my study bible commentary or not. That varies based on the length and difficulty of the scripture or if I just need some extra contextual insight. As a new Christian, and someone who had never read through the Bible before, I had NO idea where to start. Because my personality tends to be a bit structured, I wanted so much to read the Bible from start to finish but I found that without much New Testament knowledge, The God represented in the Old Testament seemed really intense and made me a bit nervous. So instead, I took advice from my peers and started with the Gospels. But instead of starting in Matthew, I started my readings with John. Where you start will depend on your level of biblical knowledge or personal preference. Take advice from other Christians you know, do your research on what has worked for other people or if it helps, follow a Bible Reading Plan. I dabbled a little bit in Bible plans but found that I didn’t enjoy them. Again, it all has to do with preference.

No matter how you choose to read, God will speak to you through His word. I’ve had to learn to be okay with taking it slowly. That I don’t have to try to read the whole entire Bible in a year or memorize every verse that I like right away. This time in God’s word is not meant to be a race. Taking it slowly helps me to dive into the Word with intention, ask questions, ponder on things that stand out and as a result, I’m able to get the most out of it. Reading one chapter a day means that it’s going to take me quite a while to get through the Bible and that’s totally okay. Do whatever makes this time in God’s word as intentional and beneficial for YOU as possible. I’ve come to LOVE the Bible and reading it has become something I look forward to every day. If you’re a Christian newbie like me looking for some tips on how to read the Bible for potentially the first time ever, I hope these tips and tools will help you get started on your journey! Happy reading!

 

*Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links. If you choose to purchase items using them, I will receive a small commission and would greatly appreciate the support. But of course, NO PRESSURE! 🙂