No one sets out to fail deliberately. But whether it’s in a relationship, a career, a personal habit, or spiritual defeat, we all experience failure in our lives. When that happens, what can we do to overcome it and reverse any damage? Here are 5 ways to flip your failures:
1. Visualize the Restoration
When my husband and I were working through some marriage issues years ago, we took time to draw up a “relationship vision.” In that project, we visualized what we wanted our marriage to look like. We listed the positive actions, attitudes, and emotions we hoped to see in the future.
How do you envision your life? On the heels of what you have labeled a “failure,” can you picture new results in the future? What would you like to see happen in this area of your life? Visualize success instead of failure and describe it on paper or your favorite device. Look at that image often. Ask God to show you His plans for you and to help you see that hopeful future He wants for you. Remember His plans may differ from yours, so keep an open mind and stay intimately connected to Him. Above all, remember that God’s plan for you is restoration, not devastation.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
2. Demo the Devastation
Now look at your “failure” from all angles. What lies did you believe? What thoughts did you conceive in the process? What part did they play? What detours did you take? What flags did you ignore that brought you to this place in your life? Invite God to show you the truth about what happened.
Own your own mistakes and failures. If other people are involved, ask forgiveness if necessary. Refuse to blame someone else. Instead, begin “Demo Day.” God will be more than happy to reveal those lies and detours when you ask. And when he does, get your sledge hammer ready and “demo” away those lies. You can’t build a vision on deceit. The truth will set you free (John 8:32).
Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong. Psalm 139:23-24 MSG
3. Avoid Preoccupation
It’s easy to over-analyze. I do it constantly. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself preoccupied with your failures and mistakes. Take all the time you need for self-examination and even grief. Sometimes failure involves loss, and moving on from loss is a process unique to every person. But revisiting your failure repeatedly without equal time for visualizing hope can put you in a rut. No one wants to be stuck in the past. If you find difficulty forgiving yourself, remember that God places our sins our far as the east is from the west. He forgives and remembers them no more.
Be sure and take breaks. Rest physically, which will also give your emotions time to breathe. Demo work can be devastating. God knows we’re made of dust and so human. See yourself as God sees you, a person of worth and value, and loved…so loved. A. W. Tozer said, “It is only through the depths of the forgiving love of God that men and women can be so restored and made ready to serve Him.”¹
See yourself as one who is becoming. Because in God’s eyes, He’s always working to make your character more like His.
How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me! Psalm 139:17 TLB
4. Begin the Renovation
What skills do you need to learn? What will be your positive approach? What new habits do you need to begin? What kind of help do you need to enlist? Avoid isolation. Most of us need help to flip our failures. Find trusted friends who will keep you accountable. If you need professional help, ask for references, and start the needed work.
Remember earlier when I mentioned that my husband and I had drawn up our own marriage “relationship vision”? We didn’t stop there. We immediately started the renovation. And I’m thrilled to say that decades later, God honored the work, and the results have been beautiful. But we didn’t stop there. We’re always inviting God’s power and presence to make it even better.
You can draw up a timeline for when you’d like to see things change, but God has His own timetable about how and when things will happen in your life. Be patient. Work daily on your new goals and restoration plan. If some days seem slow or without progress, keep taking one day at a time. Celebrate every small victory. Trust that God’s plans involve eternity. He always finishes what He starts.
And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns. Philippians 1:6 TLB
5. Review Your Motivation
What has God taught you from your failures? What did you learn about yourself? About God? What lessons does He want you to takeaway? If we let it, failure can teach us some powerful truths. It can reveal our weaknesses–and strengths. It can give us a new desire to succeed. And it can motivate us to help others flip their failures. But that could be another blog post, couldn’t it?
Above all, failure should drive us to the feet of our Lord God, where we can find the help and grace we need to fit into His plans, to move forward, and to fulfill His desire for our lives.
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16 NLT
Failures Are Inevitable
We can’t avoid failure in our lives. But whether it’s big or small, God offers us all the tools and help we need to flip our failures into a beautiful renovation built on grace.
¹A. W. Tozer, Tozer on the Almighty God, compiled by Ron Eggert (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications, Inc.) 2004.
My Personal Prayer for You
Lord Jesus, this is my prayer today for every reader:
The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you. 2 Corinthians 13:14 MSG
* You might also enjoy this blog post I wrote called, A New Beginning: Promise for Today.
What about You?
Are there failures in your life that need flipping? How has God helped you renovate your failures?
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