My firstborn plays the piano. She started at the age of five, and she’s always loved the challenge of learning music. However, one day, I saw her fumbling over the keys during practice, and, although it was dinner time, she refused to leave her seat. I figured she just wanted to finish practicing and did not think much of it. But, by the time the rest of the kids were done with their dinners, Moriah silently closed her books and quietly left the piano to sit at the table. She whispered, “Okay, I’m done,” her face downcast and half-hidden behind her long, tangled hair.
I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right, so I took to her to a private place on the stairwell, and I brushed her hair back to see her face flushed and her eyes brimming with hot tears. In the midst of how hectic it got during mealtime, I did not realize that she was extremely stressed during her practice. I asked her what the matter was, and she just released a deep, sorrowful cry.
“It was too hard. I hate it when I make mistakes. I just hate it so much.”
I don’t know how a 7-year-old could have such high standards for herself. Yet, I was able to resonate with her pain, the pain of not seeing progress and only seeing failure.
But, Moriah, mistakes are good! The people that accomplish the most usually make the most mistakes! How can we ever grow if we are afraid of mistakes? How can we learn if we do not fail?
In that moment, all she could see was the pain of her setbacks. All the while, when you zoom out and look at the overall picture of her musical journey, the mistakes are just a small part of a bigger, more beautiful process of growth.
Isn’t it funny how easy it is to give grace to your child, while giving your own self none? This moment really caused me to consider what it means to grow and move forward in life.
January of every year is always the time when people are either the most depressed or the most motivated. Whether you are hopeful or jaded in this season, your sentiment is usually determined by how much you think would change for the better in this upcoming year.
I cannot tell you how many sermons, prayers, and social media reflections I have heard and seen that called for new levels, bigger dreams, and higher achievements.
But, what about the mistakes you will make? And the setbacks? The disappointments? Is it really a bad year if these come along as well?
If 2018 was full of such pitfalls, then you probably spent the past few weeks feeling a bit melancholic, maybe even a bit depressed. You may have even questioned the goodness of God, considering how many promises and dreams have been left unfulfilled. Your future may feel uncertain. You may actually be entering into this new year with a heavy heart.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says,
“1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
It’s time to redefine our 2018 experience according to God’s perspective. It may have been hard, and you may have failed on many counts. Yet, when you zoom out and survey your overall journey of faith, it becomes a necessary step towards glory.
For, in Ecclesiastes 3:11 it says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
Those who crave breakthrough and progress must also be willing to embrace the setbacks and failures. They are the inevitable part of the journey. They are just as crucial and beautiful as the victories that lie ahead.
That relationship that fell through? The career that never took off? The grades that didn’t quite meet the mark? Even the spiritual breakthrough that never occurred?
They do not have to incur disappointment, just as my daughter did not have mourn over every fumble she was making over the piano. They are all part of the journey.
If lack of progress is a mark of shame, then Abraham was a fool. If failure defines who you are, then King David was no hero. Rahab the prostitute would not have belonged in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:31. These were all great people in Bible History who held a glorious legacy while still having experienced entire seasons of pitfalls and mistakes, seasons that have lasted beyond just a year.
So, take a deep breath and return to your position of hope. You have permission to be excited for this new year. It is safe to anticipate good from God. Sing a song of praise. Pray a prayer of thanks.
For here’s to 2019… For all the victories and gains to come… As well as the pains and failures that may occur… For whether you laugh more or cry more, they will all be part of the grander story, the story that God Himself is author of.
And as long as you breathe, He’s not done writing it.