I had failed.
My failure felt huge, as if someone had come into our backyard with a backhoe and dug a hole as large as our house. And now I was sitting by the hole—broken, beaten down, discouraged—trying to fill this huge hole back up with one teaspoon of dirt at a time.
For me, this feeling of having failed big time—so big that I couldn’t imagine any hope of repair—happened in my coaching business.
Have you felt failure?
Maybe you’ve felt this way, too.
- Maybe you felt defeated in a relationship with someone you loved. Now you are no longer speaking.
- Maybe you’re blaming yourself for your child’s poor choices.
- Maybe you tried something new at work only to have it backfire.
The exact details of my failure aren’t important. Let’s just say they involve regretting a large financial investment, hurting from many misunderstandings, and feeling totally discarded. As if all of a sudden, my work and I didn’t matter any more.
A failure too big?
As I processed the pain and loss, I began to change my thoughts about this event, which originally felt like a failure “too big to fix.”
Changing my perspective on “success” and “failure” actually helped me to gain more momentum than if the “failure” had never happened.
For years, I wrongly believed success in business meant I would reach a point when I no longer “failed”.
Do you feel this way about parenting, work or relationships? Are you just waiting for the day when you make your last mistake?
Here are a few new ways I’ve learned to look at failure from studying high achievers.
- They accept making mistakes is a natural part of succeeding.
- They learn from their mistakes.
- They do not allow the fear of failure to hold them back.
God never stopped working in my failure
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably way too hard on yourself when you make a mistake.
Maybe you feel like you’re sitting by a huge hole. A failure of your own that feels too big to fix! Trying to fill it back up with a teaspoon.
God honors the smallest thing we do. It’s as if He comes in behind us and throws in shovelfuls of dirt when we aren’t even looking. Over time, the hole fills back up.
One Small Win: Today, let go of putting so much pressure on yourself by expecting a “failure-free” life. Instead, accept when you make mistakes or even fail, God still works.
Success isn’t all “up to you.”
Watch and be astounded at what I will do. For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” Habakkuk 1:5
How does it change things for you to realize that failure is a necessary part of success?
Mary Lou Caskey trains Christian coaches and communicators to influence hearts through the power of story. If you want to become a transformative story-teller, click here to connect with Mary Lou and get her free quiz, “Is It the Best Time to Share a Personal Story?”
I was sick when I was pregnant and not just a little bit. Doctors diagnosed me with hyperemesis, which I loosely translate into “throwing your guts up day and night.”
When I got pregnant the second time, people assured me every pregnancy is different. And they were right. The second time was worse.
I sank into despair
For a woman who had led a largely sheltered and happy life, the sickness and helplessness overwhelmed me. Even though I knew the suffering would end with a blessing, my baby boys, I drifted from discouragement to despair. And then I sank. I also followed a harmful pattern that made everything worse. For the first time since I had fallen madly in love with Jesus, I didn’t pray. I didn’t read my Bible. Instead, I withdrew from God.
Just a month after my second son was born, I developed a close friendship with a woman named Linda whose sons were the same age as mine. We were both sick during our second pregnancy, but her nausea had a different source. It was caused by the chemo she was receiving for a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer.
Faced with a terminal illness, a new baby, and a grieving family, my friend didn’t react to overwhelmed by pushing God away. She drew close to Him.
In her truly overwhelming circumstances, she administered David’s remedy given in Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (NIV, emphasis added)
What my friend taught me about seeking God
Instead of withdrawing from God like I did, Linda’s secret was that she withdrew each day with God. Linda brought all her emotions to God and let Him help her. She didn’t try to fake cheerfulness in His presence or avoid Him completely. Instead, she trusted Him with her feelings and found Him to be her refuge.
If you’ve made my mistake and developed a pattern of withdrawing from God instead drawing close, I have an action step for us to take. Let’s set a reminder on our phone or a write a note on our calendar each day at a specific time that says, “Pour out your heart to Him.” When our daily time arrives, let’s take the next five minutes to bring our honest feelings to God and ask Him to help us with them.
Creating a new pattern of withdrawing to Jesus in overwhelmed times instead of hiding from Him means we access His power, strength and peace to face the day. We’ll not only build deeper trust in God, but just like my friend Linda, we’ll strengthen and inspire others.
One Small Win: In the past, have I responded to overwhelmed by withdrawing from God or with Him? What steps can I take to either change or strengthen that pattern?
Amy Carroll is a speaker and writer for Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s the author of Breaking Up with Perfect as well as the director and coach of Next Step Speaker Services. Amy and her husband live in lovely Holly Springs, NC with a bossy miniature dachshund. You can find her on any given day texting her two sons at college, typing at her computer, reading a book, or trying to figure out one more alternative to cooking dinner. Share life with Amy at www.amycarroll.org and on Facebook.
Shortly after getting married, in fact it was on our honeymoon, when I slipped into my flirty pajamas, jumped into bed next to my husband and exclaimed, “OK, I’m ready!” and he asked, “For what?”
I replied with the obvious response, “To pray together … you know, a couple that prays together, stays together? That is what my mom always says.” To which he replied, “I will NEVER pray with you, that just isn’t something I do. It’s personal and between me and God.”
To be fair, maybe my timing was a little off. But I absolutely deflated. My spirit was crushed. Not only did I feel deprived of the coveted marriage ideal that couples are supposed to pray together, it was worse than that. I felt totally duped by my new husband. After all, we prayed together during our courtship.
I was devastated. Something so clearly beneficial to our marriage was rejected. My parents prayed together! And I was certain I fell in love with someone who was going to pray with me. It didn’t seem right! I knew God and I knew He loved me. I knew this was the man He meant for me to marry. He moved mountains to bring us together.
I come from a long line of prayer warriors. I like to think my sweet grandma lived to 103 because she had prayers God still wanted her to be praying. Growing up, when situations arose, my parents always told me to “just pray about it.”
The fact my husband and I didn’t pray together other than to bless our meals unsettled me and rocked my faith. I didn’t want anyone to know because I was certain every other Christian couple prayed together. It was like a cardinal rule for a good Christian marriage.
I loved my husband and I wanted to stay together. But I didn’t like the situation. Honestly, the only thing I could do was “just pray about it.” Instead of “Run Forrest, Run!” It became, “Pray Julie, Pray!” Originally, my prayers were that my husband would pray with me because I knew better and you NEVER say never, especially to God.
I truly believed Matthew 21:22.
You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”
What I received by praying was far different than what I thought I wanted.
Through the process of praying without ceasing, God changed my heart and He changed my prayers. My heart turned from criticizing my husband, to seeking to understand my husband. My prideful prayers of me telling God how my husband needed to change eventually evolved into prayers of loving my husband for who he has been created to be.
Through the years, my prayers became more powerful. My husband witnessed first-hand how God faithfully answers even my smallest requests.
A few seasons back, I went through some personal challenges. I was really struggling, and I needed help. I asked my husband to pray for me and he did, without hesitation. He also prayed for me without my asking, just because he sensed I needed him to pray.
I cherish those moments when he pulled me close and prayed over me the most beautiful, loving prayers. Those times assured me how much God loves me and how my faithfulness and prayers honored Him and the man He gave me.
In the past, my husband and I have had this running joke that the first thing out of my husband’s mouth is “no.” This may have been what plagued him on our honeymoon, but I always say, “never say never” because he is definitely not the same man I am married to now.
He has since challenged himself to say “yes” more often. In fact, he took his “yes” a step further and ordered “promise cards” printed with the words: “because I said I would.” He hands these out at random times to people. This year for my birthday my husband gave me a promise card. It was the best gift a wife like me could ever receive. The words on the card said “I will pray with my wife. Because I said I would.”
Over twelve years ago my prayers stemmed from my own selfish motivation to change my husband, but God used them to change me. My consistent and persistent prayers changed the trajectory of our marriage for the better. I never know how or when God will answer my prayers.
But as my faith has grown, so has my trust in God and “knowing” no longer matters. I only do what I am called, which is to obediently seek Him. Today I teach other women how to pray for their husbands as this has simply become an act of obedience in response to an ever-loving God.
Julie Landreth has a passion for healthy and thriving relationships–especially in marriage and friendship. She is a speaker and a “wife coach” who loves sharing with women her passion for prayer and ways to actively cultivate a thriving marriage. She leads a growing number of women in San Jose, CA through her curriculum: Consistency and Persistency: The Art of Praying for your Husband. Having been married 12 years, she and her husband have cultivated a marriage filled with intentional love, effective communication, sustainable fun, and a date night every Friday night for the last 9 years. She also finds deliberate ways to spend quality time with her 9-year-old son who shares many of her artistic talents. In addition, she is a freelance photographer and designer.
If you would like to hear more from Julie and receive 5 Days of Prayers to get you started praying for your husband, please visit her and sign up at
In this six-week Bible Study you will, possibly for the first time, truly understand how God wants you to be free. Free from clutter so you can be free to change your world. We have an online version as well as a traditional workbook with DVD option.
Find out more: http://www.kathilipp.com/clutter-free-bible-study/
This week Kathi has been flying all over speaking to audiences so we decided to go into the vault and bring back a favorite. We can all use a reminder to come closer to especially as we head into the holidays.
Do you want God more than anything else?
After a quick trip down memory lane (does anyone else still use Elizabeth Arden Sunflower perfume like Kathi does?), this week’s guest, Lisa Whittle, author of I Want God, shows us how to find spiritual revival in the midst of our crazy, scary lives. She helps us see that a close, deep, deconstructed relationship with God is not only possible, but is actually simple to get. She tells us how:
• We can get over our fear of revival and get started on a journey to go deeper with God in a real way.
• The disconnect between our desire for God to deconstruct us and the fear that he will can stand in the way of our spiritual growth.
• To allow yourself to fully feel the God hunger within you and then to do something about it.
• Christians can hop off the roller coaster of passion with God for a truly, deep relationship with our God.
Download Lisa’s free 7-day Wanting God devotional to start your own soul revival. Plus, tell us in what area of your life your heart is crying for God most and you will be entered to win a free copy of Lisa’s book I Want God.
God loves me. But honestly, most of the time, I don’t believe it. And because I don’t believe it, I don’t see myself the way he sees me: beauty full.
I’m not the only one stuck in ugly. A recent survey by Dove found that 96 percent of women would not choose the word “beautiful” to describe how they look.[i]
Instead of listening to what God says about me, I tune in to the Hissssssss that says God does not love me!
- Not Me! I’m the one big exception to God’s love.
I’m too much. Too broken. Too much of a mess. Too needy. Too ugly. Oh, I recite in obedience that Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, but I live like he died for everyone but me.
- Not Me! I’m afraid of God’s love.
When I keep listening to the Hiss, I discover that it’s often fear that drives me to hiding from God and his view of me. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear of failing. Fear of being known—really known—and maybe not liked.
- Not Me! I have too many doubts about God’s love.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if God literally appeared in the mirror right beside us each day and reminded us that we are beautiful? That beauty is about more than the way we look—but that even our looks are beautiful to him? God is just so . . . intangible. The Hiss is so loud.
- Not Me! I’m not good enough to deserve God’s love.
Not-enoughness plops me on a hamster wheel of comparison that pushes me into competition and wears me weary. How am I doing compared to her? What about him?
The Hiss erases my perception of beauty and whizzes a lie of ugly in place of the twinkly hope that maybe I could somehow be okay, loved, even beauty full.
God knows this. He knows that I’ve heard the Hiss—God does not love me—and that I have believed it. That because I’ve believed the Hiss, I do not see myself the way he sees me. The Hiss in my ears distorts my vision of who God is and how he sees me, and therefore, how I see myself.
Beauty, as God defines it, is pre-fall and post-resurrection. God created us in his image. Male and female he created us. And along with everything else God made, he saw us and said we were good. Very good (Genesis 1:31).
Then came the great lie. God does not love you. The fall caused clear consequences of separation for Adam and Eve, God’s love for them did not change. What changed was their understanding of God’s love and their ability to grasp that he still saw them as good, even beautiful.
Just as Adam and Eve believed this hissssss, we do as well.
So God gave his Son—his one and only Son— that believing in him, we might be restored to God. God wraps the bleeding body of his Son over our “un-ness” and restores us to his original design, inviting us to see ourselves once again as good—just as he always has. Beautiful.
I still struggle. I poke at the prospect of God’s unending favor, exploring from a safe distance, wrapping control around me like a cozy muffler in a chilly breeze. But I am further convinced, and in that further conviction, I am more whole and therefore more able to receive his love and believe and be who he says I am: beauty full.
As are you.
If you’d like to see the promo video for the book, click HERE!
Elisa Morgan is a much-requested speaker and the author of The Beauty of Broken, She Did What She Could and the newly released Hello, Beauty Full. For twenty years, Elisa served as CEO of MOPS International. Currently she is the co-host of the syndicated radio program, Discover the Word (discovertheword.org). Married for over three decades to Evan, she is the mother of two grown and married children and two grandsons. Her Rottweilers, Wilson and Darla, love to take her on walks in the open space behind her house.
Click HERE to order Hello, Beauty Full!
- [i]“Dove Real Beauty Sketches,” Dove, http://realbeautysketches. dove.us.