Tests: on why failure can be for the best

Today dawned bright and big in meaning. After months of working towards it, it was time to take my driving test. Better late than never, right? Tons of prayer, hours of repeatedly attempting basic skills that should be so easy, the patience and support of family and friends (shout in particular to my dad for being a fantastically calm teacher), getting plenty of rest, reviewing scenarios in my head, eating a great breakfast, being in the relaxing environment of home; all of this should’ve added up to a successful outing. At least in my opinion. But just because everything feels right doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right timing.

In case the title didn’t give it away, I didn’t pass. I made it through the driving portion, but not the maneuverability aspect of it. For someone who doesn’t like messing up, who replays events and actions gone wrong repeatedly, who likes having it all together, it was  is rough. It didn’t help that I’d told lots of people about it, basically planned out my outfit around the ID picture (girl problems), and built up in my mind an after image of celebration.This perspective certainly didn’t include me trying to hold back a flood of tears while walking back in to the station. I had too much shouldered on this one small thing. Expectations can be the worst thing. In my head, I knew that it did not matter how I did, there’s always the next chance and nobody’s perfect. But in my heart, I was ready to be done, have a perfectly captioned picture posted on Instagram with my license, and no longer feel awkward being what seems like one of the only people among my friends this age without a license.

If events had happened in my picture perfect sequence, it would have been great. But wishing life happened differently doesn’t change the outcome, and blaming yourself only increases the letdown. Things can quickly spiral from bad to worse, and trick you into feeling like you’re no good at anything. The truth is, I constantly need to be reminded that I am not in control, that I am human, flawed to the core, that saving the world or being exactly put together isn’t realistic or up to me. Life is in far better hands, the world will keep on spinning despite myself, and this story is being written by the One who is pulling together every detail at the precise time it should be. I can’t trust my fragile strength and sheer force of will most days. But I don’t have to. I can’t walk through life trying to be it all and pass every test with flying colors. And grace reassures me of this truth, washing over my soul.

Lately, I’ve had this line by Rend Collective in my head, just something I stumbled across and can’t seem to let go. “Learning to define success not as what I’ve DONE today, but as how close with Jesus I walked as I did it.” Today, there are just as many confused moments of not knowing why things happened the way they did as reasons why could have. But one thing I know for sure, it reminded me that none of this happens as a result of what I do or don’t do; ultimately it’s about giving up every last detail and falling into deeper trust and reliance on Jesus Christ.

Here’s to tears and the not-so-lovely moments where our flaws show up strong. Here’s to the failures and the ways they shape our soul for the best. Here’s to learning to live with and walk with the mess ups, not letting them define your worth. Here’s to perspective, realizing life is not about me and my plans, that there is a bigger picture with love and it will be accomplished in spite of my flaws. Here’s to relearning what a good day, a successful one, truly is: it’s all about my relationship with Jesus and the direction that it is heading every day, with every decision and choice. Here’s to second chances, letting go, and heading back out on the road again.

One Comment Add yours

  1. kathdown says:

    Wonderful post!


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