Friday, June 24, 2016

Success and Failure, which is worse? Or are they about the same?

1 Samuel 18:14 " And David had success in all his undertakings,  for the Lord was with him" 

One of the most challenging parts of life, is learning to deal with success and failure. Learning to accept that success and failure test faith and character, especially with an alert audience, but most importantly with God that is present at all times day and night.

Writing this blog entry was somewhat stressful. Not sure if I will succeed or fail, because I wanted to deliver a powerful and useful message to many who struggle with their past and current success or past and current failures. Somehow, instead of being able to rejoice in our success, there are times we face envy and jealousy, and instead of accepting failure we face humiliation and damnation from our public, and we tend to forget about our reliance on God. Therefore, if you get anything out of this entry, remember that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13), and all things include success and failure.  

The most challenging part of success is retaining the humility that once drove a person to their goals and desires. With success, it is difficult to stay grounded and to remember that the same way one goes up can easily come back down, and can go crashing down deeper than before. Success drives people further into their personal goals and ambitions, and away from the familiar and comfort. Eventually success can develop a mentality of "no one matches me" syndrome, where the success is being celebrated alone, and it gets really lonely and quiet when the wealth is not being shared.

Feeling like failure is always tying me down
The most challenging part of failure is releasing the insecurity that can break one's character, and falling away from the success spectrum, as well as obtaining the desire and drive that once fueled the fire of success. Trying to ignite that fire is a challenge and one only hopes that the embers which remain may rekindle the soul. Failure ties a person down to the ground, disabling the ability to stand back up and try again, with failure a person feels defeated, weak alone and away from God's grace, because failure has mastered the person's ability and hope.

A challenge of  character... 

Success and failure have some things in common, they test our faith, our hope, our drive. Both can make or break a person,  success and failure can either drive someone to accept God's blessings and glory with humility, or deny their circumstances with wrath and resentment. Success and failure can impact our character flaws and the people that surround us. The challenge is not success or failure itself, it is learning to walk in balance with both. It's like a pendulum, swing too far to one side, and all of a sudden the feeling of power and might take place like being on an altar, swing too far to the other side, and suddenly one may be laying on the floor face down eating dirt. It takes strong character to remember to be proud but not arrogant and be humble but not shameful, and to trust in God and his will of why things don't work out or, work out extremely well that it might be a challenge to share the blessing because we want to remain humble and like-able.

Successful? Me? All the time! Well not really...

I had never really thought of myself as a successful person, I was told that I was a success, at first it was a challenge for me to accept it. I didn't want to accept it because I was wounded in the past from other fears and rejections and feared not knowing how to handle  my own success, I feared my own wrath. I was afraid that I was not pretty enough or attractive enough, and was also afraid of being too successful and what success could truly do to me, corrupt me, make me vain or selfish. Sure enough my fear was confirmed, with each goal attained, I felt invincible, and with each recognition and award collected I felt superior. My humility was gone and my ego had taken a drive on the fast lane to self satisfaction and lack of modesty, disregarding all who had helped me along the way. To some extent, I felt better than the rest and was condescending judging others for their "lack of drive."

Matthew 7:3- Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brothers eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Truthfully, in my adolescence I was a nerdy, drama geek who did extra curricular activities and spent a lot of alone time during my middle school and high school years. I was socially awkward and did not know how to connect with teens my age, therefore being academically successful was my escape. I only had two close friends in middle school, one moved away midways through 7th grade, and the other went to another high school after our 8th grade graduation. In high school I spent time with only one friend. This of course was difficult because between her and me, she was the pretty girl all guys wanted to talk to and I was the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend).
Me, during my middle school and high school years, as the DUFF
Me, current time 2016

Any time a guy would come and talk to me, it was about my friend, so I ended up being the chubby humorous sidekick. This drove me to succeed academically, because at least in academics I did not need to be pretty just intelligent and willing to learn. I never learned to fail until I got out in the real world. This was devastating as I saw failure(s) as a sign of weakness, underachievement and total humiliation. Feeling ugly and feeling stupid, not a good combination for a broken person, with each step I took I felt that parts of me were breaking off and leaving  me with nothing but my guilt for lack of humility.

Failing in public...

My biggest failure by far have been with my health. I never really took care of my eating habits, and my way of coping with fear, loneliness and rejection was with food. On August 4, 2008, I was diagnosed with  type 2 diabetes and I felt that I had failed myself.  I had to change my habits and went from 277 lbs down to 147 lbs, which for my body it was extreme. It was not the best way to lose the weight, but the way I did it was eating less and less each day, overworking my body, and lastly, restricting myself excessively.

The end result, I lost all the weight, but in a matter of 5-6 months, I gained 25-30 lbs back. I had failed to keep the weight off. It was depressing, embarrassing and humiliating, because after the success I literally felt like I was better than the rest of my friends who were heavier.  The failing part was not that I gained some weight, it was that I had not learned to live a healthier lifestyle, because as a diabetic, I should have focused on healthy eating habits and physical activity for a better quality of life, over trying to lose weight to look better. While family and friends understood that I had a medical condition, they did not understand what it takes to control the medical condition, and that made me feel more alone and like a bigger failure.

Romans 5:3-5
More than that, we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Success doesn't mean we did it on our own, sometimes we have people that help along the way. However, God is always with us each and every step of the way. The glory should go to him  always, for answering our prayers, delivering blessings and performing miracles on a daily basis. Success is not designed  for us to pull away from Christ, it is  designed so we come closer to Christ. Nothing we do or have should inflate our ego, resentment, wrath or pride. It should deepen and extend our faith and inspire both believers and non-believers in the power of faith and hope. Giving thanks to our Lord gives others an opportunity to reflect on their walk (or crawl) with the Lord. 

Failure doesn't mean we are not worthy, it means it is not the right time, we have something to learn or we are growing deeper in our faith and communication with God. Lack of success does not equal failure, in my case  it has equaled to me learning to see failure as part of my growth process. I lacked so much failure in the past  (or failure to see failure itself when I had failed) and focused so much on success, that the pendulum of my life came swinging back hard crashing in almost every area of my life. If you have seen the movie "Inside Out" where the  characters personality islands fall apart, well my life felt like that portion of the movie.  The pendulum came back ans crashed into demolishing my health, love life, family affairs, friendships, finances, and career. Every area where I felt was untouchable was very vulnerable and fragile. 

Our savior is a God of second chances

Success in private...

 The purpose of failure is to learn to rely not on our own understanding but to understand that God prepares pearls of wisdom with each experience and these are the true jewels that I can hold on to. My experiences of failing have served me to recognize when I am walking away from God, steering back into pride, or when I see others heading down the same road I took. When I see others struggling in same areas that I have struggled, I do not tell them what to do, I just tell them where I went wrong. It is not  up to me to fix them, it is up to me to plant that seed of hope, so that desperation and ambition do not overtake their character or faith. In a way, it is like sharing a testimony of God's love and grace for us.  Failure is God's way to give us more of what he has in-stored for us,  but when he sees the time is right and at his timing.  Just  how seeds  are planted and cannot be re-potted until a certain point of time, God will not re-pot us until we start showing sprouts of grow in our faith and love. 

This has been my Aha moment...

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