I always like to start off with a definition or a quote. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines failure as a lack of success, an abrupt cessation of normal functioning or my personal favorite: a falling short.
It also defines fear as an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. A fear of failure is simply being afraid to fail or having a strong awareness of or anticipation for failure.
Close to the end of one of my semesters in school, I was to turn in a term paper. It was a two-group paper so to increase efficiency, we shared the workload based on our strengths and interests. I was in charge of the mathematical modeling design and optimization while my partner was in charge of the paper reviews. After spending more than a week on my model, the software simulation didn’t work.
It was not feasible. My model involved more than 30 parameters and a lot of equations, so I was immediately discouraged.
- I had just spent one week on something that didn’t work out
- I had only four days to fix it as well as complete the rest of my paper
- I had no idea what was wrong with it, analysis kept pointing at different things
I spent the day going over every equation, adjusting the limits for the parameters but I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I think I cried that day because I was so frustrated.
I thank God because we always find him in the place of our despair, our helplessness.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me
– 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
Helpless is precisely what I was that day. The idea of failure looming in my near future made me so anxious and angry and tired.
So I prayed, for me, prayer was a last resort. It was what I do when all else fails, and most times that’s how Christians live. We call on God only when we can’t fix it ourselves. Sometimes it’s not because we don’t believe he can’t do it but because we don’t want him to disappoint us and not do it.
I didn’t sleep well that night.
I dreamt several times that the model worked but alas it was still not working when I woke up. So I asked the Holyspirit to direct me, show me what I was doing wrong and went to look at similar models.
It was like I was blind before that day because when I read one of the papers I had previously read, all the answers I was looking for came to me. I was like a sponge soaking up all the information and that day I was able to fix the model and tweak it to make it even better. My point is, what you do after you feel like you have failed at something matters because it will determine whether you can turn around your failure into something beneficial or truly fail by sitting down and accepting failure as an excuse to give up.