Failure – am I alone?

A writing offered by Paul Fallsoffhishorse, a member of The Simon Community. 

How do we deal with failure?  I’m so tired of screwing up.  I’m tired of working on the same faults and then going back in the confessional line to say the same things over and over again.  When will I be done with this?  I am literally the hypocrite that people talk about, that I have even held in spite.  I am the people at Meribah and Massah, the people who took for granted the gifts that God had given them and complained instead of being grateful.  How do I get out of this?

As I write this on the feast day of St. Paul (January 25th) and even he wrote about this struggle.  “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold into slavery to sin. What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” Romans 7:14-15  

I used to think St. Paul was the first protestant

I used to resent St. Paul. I used to think of him as the first protestant.  He never met Jesus when he was on the earth.  He wasn’t one of the twelve disciples and yet it is his letters that make up a sizable portion of the New Testament.  He was always so over the top one way or the other.  He even spoke of the sacrament of Marriage as a thing to be tolerated but only as a necessity. “…but if they cannot exercise self-control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire.” (1 Corinthians 7) 

He was a hypocrite to Christians and a heretic to the unconverted.

The truth of this situation and the way out is in recognizing that God has always used broken people to do good things, and to expect any different from ourselves is hubris, the sin of pride.  It may not feel like it when you’ve just hit bottom, but that’s how this trap works.  Blinded and battered get back on your horse and keep riding towards the Lord and let “Jesus take the wheel.” 

“His yoke is easy and his burden is light,”

Failure is not easy. It sucks being the bad guy and knowing what the good is. “His yoke is easy and his burden is light” is true, but if you’re still yoked to things pulling in the direction that Christ isn’t going that can be painful.  It’s a double yoke, he’s got one side of it and you have the other. If you’re still anchored to yourself or a particular sin you can see what kind of trouble that would cause.  You end up working just as hard as you were before but going in a circle, instead of going where your partner is trying to lead you.

Admitting that you’re a hypocrite can be hard and hurtful but through that lies the virtue of humility.  You just have to keep trying and pull away from what is holding you back and sometimes you’re able to let go of those things keeping you from the Lord.  Then things do get easier.

Humility is a moderating virtue that opposes pride and vainglory. Humility urges us to do great things above our strength and ability, and therefore it is included in temperance just as meekness which represses anger is a part of the same virtue.

Humility consists in keeping yourself within your own bounds, not reaching out to things above yourself, but submitting to one’s superior, God.

Humility will not destroy you

Having faith in yourself is a good thing.  It can be encouraging and motivating.  How much more so can be said of having Faith in your Lord.  Humility will not destroy you. It will however allow you to let go of things that are holding you back from your Lord.  If you worry about losing yourself in the letting go of parts of your life or attachments that you have then ask yourself what fruit are those things really bearing in your life?

We are called to be imitators of Christ.  Did you really think that would be a quick and easy thing?

There is much to be learned on the road to Calvary, and you won’t get there by dwelling on your failure any more than is necessary.  Prune the vineyard of your life and if you see the same weed popping up again and again what should you do?  Pluck it out and get back to pulling your yoke in the direction He is leading you.


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