Failure and Forgiveness

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“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
Michael Jordan

I just remembered this quote and, believe it or not, the Holy Spirit has used it to convict me enormously. I couldn’t tell you exactly what Jordan had in mind when he said that, but I do know what it means to me: failure leaves a mark, but that isn’t the end of the story.

The pride of self-hatred says that I am defined by my failure—and only my failure. This should never be confused with humility, which accepts and receives the totality of the person – failure and gifts alike – without arrogance or expectation. My self-hatred, on the other hand, is the explosive rage of wounded pride when I fail to meet the many expectations I have of myself.

John’s posts on what it means to love ourselves as God requires have really riled up and exposed quite a few pockets of self-hatred in me. The Holy Spirit is now showing me the difference between merely tolerating myself and actually loving myself, and it is very humbling.

But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself
[and given distinction to] him who is godly
[the man of loving-kindness].
Psalm 4:3a

A man of God is a man of loving-kindness! Is there any better moniker than “one set apart for God?” None come to mind. To that end, I am forgiving myself and thanking God for the entirety of who I am – purely an act of my will right now – and asking for His own love to fill me because I just haven’t got it. I need it and I want it and I just don’t have it.

Thing is, I’ve seen miracles take place in other people as a result of forgiving OR being forgiven. I’ve experienced first-hand an inexplicable change in the nature of a relationship, a wonderful change that is clearly the result of forgiveness. I would like to experience that miraculous change in my own life, to witness change that I know to be impossible, change born of the Spirit because forgiveness moved the mountain.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…
Mt. 5:44 HCSB

Today, my enemy is me. I have suffered the greatest persecution at my own hands, and if I don’t forgive myself, then God won’t forgive me. And I’m just too needy for that. I wonder if some of my spiritual stagnation of late isn’t related to this much-needed work of forgiving myself. I don’t want to perish behind the walls of bitterness and pride. I want the life God has for the me-He-dreamed. I want to know what it is to be loved by my Father without obstacle, and to love Him right back without reservation.

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Sam

Recently I received this word:

“Sam, only I can defeat you.”

I am beginning to glimpse God as the Warrior sent out to defeat me. I am beginning to embraze Him so. As the One with a sword to kill.

We our the greatest enemies of ourselves, and He is the only Friend that can defeat us.

What a Mighty Friend.

Tina

I woke up this morning and as custom I am still before the Lord, listening, before my mind engages…it seems once I open my eyes I loose that deep connection…and I heard the Lord say, “the only thing that you see is your failure, continually”. It is true. I see and am highly alert to every failure and it blinds my ability to see anything else. I do not have the experience of anything else. Just moments and snippets of experience of love that once gone I do not know how to find again. As I read this I allowed… Read more »

Irene

“My self-hatred, on the other hand, is the explosive rage of wounded pride when I fail to meet the many expectations I have of myself.”. Wow that hits the nail on the head. I was talking to the Lord about this very thing Jennifer, and He told me that my “failures” and my “successes” we’re both the same to Him namely wood, hay, and stubble. What joy it is to walk in newness of life as Martha has been sharing in her devotionals. Thank all of you at Shulamite for ministering to me through your writings. I look forward to… Read more »