Original Source: Leslie Vernick: Enriching Relationships that Matter Most – email Newsletter, August 2017. Subscription information and more available at www.LeslieVernick.com
Last year I had a bad fall. A corner of my kitchen floor was covered with large boxes that were delivered but unopened. I was standing in front of the boxes when the doorbell rang. My dog, Gracie, was anxious to protect me and raced to the front door, knocking me over in the process. I lost my balance and fell backwards over the boxes hitting my head on our basement doorknob. Ouch! I was sore and bruised for days. Falling backwards is more dangerous than falling forwards. I hurt my back, tailbone and my head because my arms and knees were unable to cushion my fall. Many years ago when I learned to ice skate the teacher knew falling was inevitable, especially when we tried a new skill like skating on one foot or skating backwards.
Part of our lesson involved learning to fall forward. She said falling forward is much easier on the body and less likely to cause serious injury.
I thought about that idea of falling forward in other areas of life. For example, I have just started to learn to play pickleball, a wildly popular racket sport here at my new home in Arizona. I still hit the ball into the net too often. I often lose my focus, take my eye off the ball and miss my shot.
Pickleball is always played with a partner, which compounds my misery when I fail. I feel embarrassed. I’m tempted to blame myself for losing the game. Sometimes I want to go home because I’m not as good as everyone else I play with. My mindset is like falling backwards. I create more problems for myself by the way I handle my failures. I’m negative. I’m critical of myself and I’m tempted to give up. All of these attitudes will hurt my ability to succeed at learning to play pickleball better.
Recently I attended a professional seminar on a new writing style. All I turned out was junk. I felt discouraged. I told myself I can’t do it this way and was tempted to quit. My mindset is like falling backwards.
Much of life involves learning and trying new things. And new growth always involves some failure. If you don’t learn how to fall forward when you fail, you will short circuit God’s work in your life and rob your own self of your greatest potential.
So here is what changes when you learn to fall forward.
1. When you mess up, which you will, instead of seeing it as a failure, now you see it as an opportunity for growth. “Sure I failed to write well in that moment, but I am learning to write better. Sure I missed a shot in pickleball, but I am learning how to play better and I can’t learn to do that when I’m caught in my fear of failure.”
Falling forward means you will change the way you talk to yourself when you mess up. Instead of negative words, use encouraging words.
2. Falling forward means you do not quit. Falling hurts, whether you fall forwards or backwards. But falling forwards means you get up, brush yourself, tend to any injuries, and keep going. You don’t stop and you don’t give up because giving up is the ultimate failure. Quitting means failing to learn what you needed to learn from this experience. Persistence doesn’t guarantee you will be the best at what you attempt to do, but you will definitely learn to do it better if you don’t give up and quit.
3. Falling forward means you stop seeing failure as a statement about who you are. Instead, you see failure as simply what happened in the moment. For example, I missed my serve. I hit into the net. My writing wasn’t clean enough. Not, “I can’t do it.”
Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six 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’s why I succeed.”
In the same way we know that falling forward is better for your physical body, falling forward when you fail or experience a personal setback makes a huge difference on how quickly you recover from your failure.
When you know how to fall forward you start to realize that success is born in the land of failure.
So much change in this world – that’s a fact. But the stronger fact is that the God who created this world is greater and stronger than ANY change. He is so great, in fact, that not just one Name can describe Him. There are so many Names of God in the Bible. And each Name is a reflection of a facet of Who He Is. And I’m thinkin’ that at least one of those Names meets you right at that point of your need right now. These wonderful Names are throughout the bible, but here’s a link to a great little resource. It’s a printable calendar with 30 Names of God so you can wrap yourself up in who God is by focusing on a different name of God each day.
And I’ve also put together a YouTube mix of some old and new favorite songs of mine that help me focus in on the Names of God. It’s hard to stay “down” while singing along with these. It helps the most shaken and lonely parts of your soul remember who HE is. And sometimes… that’s all we need to know.
So, my cute hiking boots got all muddy today – and that’s a good thing. I’ve been battling discouragement after some doors slammed shut recently as I seek out my next professional adventure. To be honest, my initial Saturday plans involved staying in bed and moping all day. But I got up and went to my Amazing Church‘s Serve Day to work on a Habitat for Humanity home in my city. Sometimes serving others is the #BestAntidepressantEver. Sometimes you’ve just got to lace up your boots, tromp through the mud, and get past yourself.
The words below are a really good little read. So as you’re figuring out what to do on this Sunday morning, take a minute to read it while you sip your coffee or lie in bed surfing social media (as I’m doing right now). Then let’s get up and go to church. Or, better yet…. Let’s get up and BE the church!
Does the Church Still Matter?
By Ryan Romeo
From “Outcry: God’s Heart for Your Church” 14-Day Devotional (available for free on the YouVersion Bible App)
The Church is in the middle of a season of critique. It’s hard to find positive news articles about the Church. We see viral blogs about how the Church is missing it with millennials. Or about how we’re in decline. Or even dying.
I remember being in the middle of planning for the first tour. We were writing the first promo video to introduce the world to OUTCRY. We already had Hillsong United, Jesus Culture, Kari Jobe, Bethel, Crowder, and Passion signed up, so the task felt weighty, to say the least. But in one moment, while pacing around my hotel in Redding, I felt God fall on me, and I began to write. I wrote from the perspective of the Church as Jesus’ bride.
Then I wrote a line on the paper (actually, on my iPad!) that stopped me in my tracks. I wrote, “She is not dying. She is not in decline. Her best days are ahead.” As I read it back, I could just hear the skeptics saying, “Get real, Ryan! Haven’t you seen the statistics? Get your head out of the sand and accept reality!”
But God’s reality is not our reality. It is not swayed by public opinion or research.
It’s easy to find what is wrong with the Church. But God has chosen the imperfect to carry his message of perfect love. His ways are not our ways, and the Church is powerful and eternal… because God says she is.
Prayer: God, remind your bride that she has a glorious future. Remind me that I am on the winning team. The Church is sure because you are sure. Lift my eyes to see the Church as you see her. Amen.
Some think God wants us to be rich epitomes of Western culture’s wealth and health. Others think God wants us to be poor servant types – all striving to be Mother Teresa. I think God simply wants us to be His. And being His looks a little different on each of us.
“And before the world was made, God decided to make us His own children through Jesus Christ. This was what God wanted, and it pleased Him to do it.” -Ephesians 1:5 ERV (Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read version)