Hello my friends! Today we will have a guest post from my wonderful sister-in-law Sara Scheler, praise the Lord. I met Sara this summer when her sister married my brother, and I could tell right away that she was pretty awesome -and this was not just because she was baking the wedding cake for said wedding. Sara IS an excellent baker, though, which is something you should keep in mind as you read this post! Enjoy!
Life is like baking a cake.
It’s messy, time-consuming, and impossible to get it just right. You think you’ve got things pretty much figured out, you find a recipe that looks easy enough, but then it turns out to be impossibly difficult. You spend three hours blending and mixing and whipping and making an enormous mess and then you realize you don’t have any baking soda.
We’ve all been here. Exhausted by the effort, disappointed by our inability to complete the task to the desired level of perfection, and beaten down by the voices in our head, we retreat to the corner with a bowl of ice cream and eat away the feelings.
Failure is not something humans take kindly to. We hate failure. Why do you think sporting events are such an enormous industry? We want to WIN. All the time. Sports, gambling, video games, school, work, relationships, even shopping are fueled by humans’ obsessive desire to win--to be the best athlete, the best player, the best student, the best date, the best-dressed at the party. Social media follows this trend. It has morphed from a way to connect with friends and family into a needy, self-obsessed freak of nature that demands your constant attention and requires you to post things that make you look like a winner one hundred percent of the time. How often do we go online and post something negative? I’m not talking about that passive-aggressive rant we all post in a moment of frustration-induced weakness and then immediately regret, I mean something humble or unfortunate, like hey, I really messed up and I’m sorry about that. What would happen if we scrolled through our newsfeed and saw our friends’ confessions, apologies and admissions of failure? Instead, we often see a barrage of selfies, bragging and my-life-is-way-more-exciting-than-yours stuff. Why do we untag ourselves in photos we think are unattractive or only post things that make us look good? The obsession with perfection continues.
A few years back, Facebook did an experiment where they randomly selected user profiles to display only uplifting posts and some user profiles to display only upsetting posts. My friend was one of the latter. She spent a summer sifting through all the things her friends posted about sadness, death, injury, pain and destruction. She saw nothing positive on her news feed. Facebook learned that these users logged on much less, and posted and shared many more upsetting and disturbing things. Failure is such a hard topic for us that if we merely observe it in others, our sense of self and quality of life are impacted in a negative way.
In the movie Apollo 13 (and possibly in real life, too), the flight director of the space shuttle Apollo said, “Failure is not an option.” Everyone said the Titanic was unsinkable. Even Yoda brazenly stated, “Do or do not; there is no try.” But, in all of these situations, there was failure; and on some occasions it was spectacular failure.
So, what are we to do? When we fail a test, when we botch a project at work, when we let down someone we love, when we drop the ball, screw the pooch, crash and burn, backslide, blunder, fall flat, fizzle, flop, flounder, go up in smoke, hit bottom, lose control, miss the boat, run aground…when you realize your cake will never rise to the occasion and become all you dreamed it would be, what are you to do? Thankfully, God has a perfect answer for all of these situations. Unfortunately, it’s not the answer we want. It goes something like this: GET USED TO IT.
What? Really? That’s all you’ve got?
Pretty much. I mean, God is there for you in all of these situations, just like He is one hundred percent of the time. When you’re struggling with failure, he’s there saying things like, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9. God certainly does not enjoy seeing you fail, but He welcomes the chance to be there to comfort and assure you that He doesn’t love you any less and that everything will be just fine. No matter the severity of the failure, His promises are always the same. We can do all things through Him who strengthens us, not because God gives us magic powers to truly accomplish anything we want but because we have the ability to achieve much and when we fail, we can fall back on His promises and be comforted and strengthened by His Word.
Paul and Timothy are exceedingly bold on the topic of failure: “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with my weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10)
So, do not fear failure. Bake with confidence! Do not be afraid to tackle that fantastic recipe you found on Pinterest, bake a 20-layer Schichttorte without a recipe* or make your first-ever tiramisu for your first-ever dinner party with your first-ever brand new in-laws. And for heaven’s sake, don’t abandon the recipe altogether and and opt for a boxed mix. Live with confidence. Be confident in your ability and confident in your dreams and confident in your goals, knowing that your failure, when it inevitably occurs, will be met with nothing but grace.
*a reference to Episode 9 of The Great British Baking show. If you have not seen the aforementioned show, stop whatever you’re doing (unless you’re reading a fantastic blog, in which case finish that) THEN run to your nearest Internet-capable device and look it up on Netflix. What’s that? You don’t have Netflix? Well, lucky for you, I happen to own the entire season and I just threw some scones in the oven so you’re welcome to pop on over.