Friday, May 22, 2009

Shaping vs. Defining

I had a recent discussion with a friend about failure, and it was interesting because in the course of this discussion, I realized many of the ways that we let our failures define us.

It’s so easy for us to look at the ways that we fail because those stick out to us. I remember the ways that I get angry at my kids, or losing a job, or reacting badly to someone at church. And if we’re not careful, those parts can truly come to define us and in many ways paralyze us because of that definition, particularly if we don’t feel that there’s anything else to define us besides our failures.

The flip side of that is completely forgetting our failures, ignoring them. And this is just as dangerous, because while obsessing over our failures is a waste of time and effort, forgetting them puts us in a situation where we don’t learn from them or become shaped by them. Because in my mind, there’s a difference between being shaped by failure and being defined by it. We should always look at failure and learn from that, be shaped by our previous experiences. But for those of us who claim Christ, that defines us. That makes us who we are. We push past our failures taking joy in Christ’s love and forgiveness, allowing us to continue to grow.

In life, like the Mythbusters say, “Failure is always an option.” But how we deal with it shows whether it will shape us or define us.

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