It seems like God and I have a lot of conversations that begin with my fear of failing – my fear of failing as a mom, as a ministry leader, as a wife. I fear failing to raise my kids well, to hear and follow God’s direction and to meet others’ expectations…the list goes on. Can you relate?
Interestingly, God seems to have a different view and perspective. My failure doesn’t seem to upset Him or surprise Him. In fact, every time I bring my failures to Him, He meets me with love, understanding, and acceptance. Perhaps the surprising thing should be that I keep struggling with the fear of failing when He repeatedly makes it clear that He expects me to fail. That’s right; He expects me to fail and Immanuel meets me in my failures with tender care.
For me, there seem to be two general categories of failure that God treats differently: 1) When my efforts fail to produce the desired results, and 2) When, in spite of my good intentions, I fail to live up to my goals. In the first scenario, God reminds me that the results are His responsibility; my responsibility is simply to follow His lead and direction. In the second scenario, I find that when I bring my failures to Him, He says He can redeem. Often, this means I need to repair with someone. Sometimes it also means He wants to show me something about a stumbling block that led to my failure.
Lately, I have been talking to God regarding my sons. I feel a heavy weight of responsibility as a parent. First is the responsibility to make sure they are fed, dressed and out the door on time with a healthy lunch in their backpacks. Second is the responsibility to navigate our evenings in such a way that they go to bed with full bellies, a snuggle, and enough time left to sleep and wake up rested. And these are just the daily schedule responsibilities!
These are all good goals – in fact, these are necessary goals! But what about those days with “crunch time”? What about those evenings where we stay outside playing a little longer than we planned, then we have to rush to fit everything in before bedtime? Is it so very bad to fail and drop the ball on meeting these goals?
As stressed as the morning and evening routines make me on the days we are running behind, you would think it was a very big deal to fail. My feelings and my thinking can sure make it a big deal!
What God brought to my attention this week is what my fear of failure is teaching my boys. What example am I setting for them? Am I modeling what it looks like to fail and bring my failures to God? Am I modeling repair when I fail? Am I showing them that failure will be met with love, understanding, and acceptance, or do I demonstrate that failure is not an option? Am I giving my sons room to make mistakes, and learn important lessons for themselves? These are important questions.
I feel God nudging me to turn more of their routine over to them in the mornings and evenings. My job is to better support them when they make mistakes, to let them learn to manage their own time and see that they are loved and accepted even when they don’t do it well. I don’t know about you, but I did not learn these important lessons as well as I would have liked.
I am not saying there are not consequences to failure; there are numerous natural consequences! If the evening routine takes too long and they get to bed late, they will be tired the next day. If they “dawdle” in the mornings, and lose their time to eat, they may be somewhat hungry when they leave for school. Yet, there is love, grace, tenderness and acceptance even in the midst of the learning, the falling and the failing.
Do you struggle with a fear of failure? If so, I would encourage you to bring this to Immanuel and give Him the opportunity to meet with you, and to show you how He sees your failures. Read more about it here.
For more on the process of interacting with Immanuel, check out
- Learn more about the Immanuel Process here where Dr. Karl Lehman has a number of excellent resources.
- Joyful Journey here,
- The God With Us Podcast with Geoff and Cyd Holsclaw here
- THRIVE Training here brings together strategic training with hands-on practice using relational skills to develop an Immanuel Lifestyle.
Joanna Leonard says
Thank you Jenn for being so honest in your sharing. Yes I have feared failure. As a parent of two grown men I continue to deal with fear. It take on a little different color than the fears you face with young men but none the less it is fear. As moms we always want to know we have done all we can do. Knowing Jesus loves my sons more than I can possibly love them sure helps me turn my fears over to Him.
I think facing fear is something we will do the rest of of lives on this earth but having tools to face fear with has transformed my life. I often Immanuel journal when fear hits.
Again I loved the depth to which you shared. You certainly have given me some things to pray about. For years I did not even recognize my fear as fear. When we recognize the fear behind our anxiety or unsettledness we can then address it. Just becoming aware of fear has given me a lot of power.
I credit Thrive Training and Jesus. Thank you Jenn and Chris for your faithfulness to spread the good stuff around.
Dawn Whitestone says
Thanks for sharing your heart, Jen! parenting is hard sometimes. Being a mother can feel overwhelming, especially when all we can see is what’s right in front of us. It’s hard being in the middle of the story. We are used to hearing the stories after they are completed. It’s so much safer to share when we know how it ends. But you bravely shared your story in the middle, before the ending is clear. Thank you for trusting God THAT MUCH! You demonstrate great faith in the redeeming God of resurrection. Well done!