Failure Doesn’t Define You – It Refines You

By: Duncan Robinson

I did something big over the weekend. I deleted an old email address, and it was a big deal.

It was an email address I had created when we were church planting. We had moved back home from the USA to Australia and we wanted to put a mark on the map.

We created an identity for a church, and were excited to set up a new email address. Mission Church wanted to “Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly”. Our goal was to share the love of Jesus as well as be socially invested in change.

It was a complete failure.

Two years of attempting to launch something left us defeated, God had other plans, and I’ve been faithfully involved in another local church in the area, doing all the things we had hoped to do. It worked out well, but not without a sense of hurt and failure.

I kept the email address because I wasn’t convinced I was done yet. Perhaps maybe in the future there was a plan.

But it was the last artefact of a failure. Every time an email came in, for five years, there was a subtle reminder of failure. Not enough to derail days, but enough to remind me that it didn’t work out.

I made the decision to drop the email address, disband the domain and set the last remnant free. Sure, there are probably some subscriptions I’ll have to change, but the connection to that past failure is now finally gone. The last remaining artefact has been removed.

Reflection on failure is really important. Failure shouldn’t define you. It isn’t a badge or a scarlet letter that we wear to demonstrate we are broken miserable and incapable.

There is a powerful moment in Rocky 4, when Balboa loses to Drago. Broken and defeated, he has failed. He’s thrown everything he has at a challenge that in the end was bigger, better and stronger.

He could have retired; Drago could have been the champion. Balboa could have slipped into obscurity and become a no-one. Instead though, rather than being defined by the failure, Rocky digs deep and becomes refined. He trains in the Russian wilderness and in the end, beats Drago on his own soil.

Powerful moment – but we don’t live in a movie.

“Failure shouldn’t define you… It’s also a teaching moment, when the boundaries of life are expanded.”

So, let’s call a failure, a failure. But it’s also a teaching moment, when the boundaries of life are expanded. The depth of your character is deepened; your willpower can be strengthened. It isn’t a moment to chuck in the towel. It is a moment to realise that, while change can be painful, you’ve just grown.

Don’t wear the failure like a scarlet letter defining your character. Rather, use it to grow you as a person. Sometimes, that means letting go of the last vestige of a broken memory so you can move on.

So – farewell email address! That failed experience hasn’t broken me, it has grown me.  Today is a new day, where my definition has only grown clearer.

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

About the Author: Duncan is a radio host, pastor, husband and father of two.

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