I have a new friend who is great at asking insightful questions. In fact, he’s so good that each time I get to hang out with him I wonder what he’ll ask me next.
We got the kids together a few weeks ago. As we watched them play, our conversation once again began with a great question.
“Tim, what do you do when you fail big?”
(Nothing like diving right in with a big question! LOL.)
Now to give you some context, he was specifically asking me leader to leader. He was gracefully seeking permission to peek into my leadership skills and character. To be honest, I didn’t pick up on that right away because I had just failed big as a Dad the day before. I was still raw from the disappointment of missing the mark and the remorse of my poor parenting decisions.
I answered, “I sit in it.”
“You sit in it?”
“Yes, I sit in it. A few years ago I decided that if God has something to teach me through my stupidity or sin then I don’t want to miss the lesson. So I sit in my pain for as long as it takes… until He reveals to me what I need to know and what needs to change internally so that I don’t repeat the failure.”
“So you sit in it. Hmmmm.”
Now the rest of our conversation got really intimate and I won’t share the ugly details of my parenting blunder. Let’s just say that I have a lot of work to do to learn how to parent my new teenager. However, the conversation ultimately turned practical and we talked about exactly how I “sit in it.”
I told my friend that I don’t move until I find out what was really happening underneath the surface of my failure. The truth is that a lot of times we just move from day to day, failure to success, without ever bothering to ask what’s lying beneath the surface of our actions. I believe my failures are a great way to allow the Holy Spirit to do a deeper work in me and so I am committed to sitting there as long as it takes.
To be clear, I don’t just sit there and wait. I’m actively pursuing Jesus in the waiting by asking him deeper questions and then listening. Over the years I’ve gotten a little better at asking the deeper questions; going beyond the surface of what’s happening and digging beneath to the condition of my heart. I’ll ask stuff like, ‘what’s really happening in my heart, or what is this emotion really pointing to, or what do I know about myself that I don’t really want to admit?’
Now, I’ll tell you that this isn’t alway fun (ok, it’s never fun.) And I usually don’t like what I discover about myself. But I’m not sure if there is another way to allow Jesus to transform my heart.
Friends, we have to give him permission to do the deep work within us. We have to sit still and surrender if we want to allow Jesus to restore us into who He’s designed us to be; our best selves. While we can learn from our successes, it is often our failures that shape us.
So what do I do when I fail? I sit still and ask the deeper questions. Then, I listen.
The funny thing is He always speaks; gently and loving just like you would expect. In the process my heart begins to transform and I get a little closer to living free and light.