Last Wednesday at my church’s midweek service, I got to lead the song “So Will I” by Hillsong UNITED for the first time. (Somehow I managed to do it without having the words right in front of me. If you’re familiar with this song, you know what an accomplishment that is. Haha!) Two of my favorite lines of the song are the ones that go “If You left the grave behind You, so will I” and “As You speak, a hundred billion failures disappear.” As I led that line out in worship, this single phrase resonated within my spirit: bye-bye, failure. And I could almost picture the shadow lifting from my shoulders as I sang.
I want to be vulnerable with you for a moment. I’m never one to shy away from sharing all the things that I’ve overcome and endured (only by the grace and mercy of the Lord) so I won’t start now.
From the time I was seventeen to the time I was twenty, I struggled with a lot of things. Chief among them was insecurity and comparison. I constantly compared myself to everyone around me. In my eyes, my accomplishments paled in comparison to whoever happened to be in my line of sight at the time. I was never good enough. I was never strong enough, thin enough, smart enough, man enough, and probably just about anything else you could think of. Insecurity was a huge problem in my life. And it wasn’t just affecting my inner life; it was beginning to seep out into every other area of my life – family relationships, friendships, work, church, etc… It caused me to open myself up to people I shouldn’t have. It caused me to compromise who I was and what I believed in favor of social acceptance. It was a self-defeating cycle and led to a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual issues and struggles. (It was at this time that I was battling depression, which I may expound on sometime in the future.)
Thank God I’m not that person anymore!
But the devil never stops. With every victory comes a new battlefield. Where I once fought to find confidence, joy, and peace, I know fight to defend it from all sides. Fortunately, I’ve learned – through trial and error – how to recognize the tactics of the enemy (for me, he’ll often try to intrude on my thought-space when I’m tired or stressed.) For others, the lies may creep in when you’re so busy that you neglect your spiritual wellbeing. Or maybe a spirit of comparison begins to arise when you spend too much time on social media. Or maybe you start to feel like a failure whenever you make a mistake or take a wrong turn in life. Maybe you haven’t had any luck in the dating game and the loneliness is causing you to question your worth. (Again, 100% me.) Whatever it is, I want to tell you one thing today.
Failure has to go.
The road to healing after heartbreak, betrayal, depression, and insecurity was a long one. But it started with a choice. I had to decide – much like Daniel when he was taken captive in Babylon – that I was going to fight for healing. And fight I did. When lies of insecurity, comparison, and defeat crept into my mind, I fought not to let them affect my emotions. I fought not to give them a voice in my head. And I echoed the truths that I would soon come to memorize:
You are a child of God, I told myself daily. You are royalty. You are called. You have authority. You have a purpose. You have power. Failure has to go. Sickness has to go. Heaviness has to go. I release love, joy, peace, hope, light, life, liberty, victory, purity, and a sound mind over myself.
For months, this was my daily prayer. It was my battle cry. Slowly and surely, the lies lost their voice and truth’s roots grew deep. I said bye-bye to failure and hello to greater faith. It wasn’t easy or simple and it involved a lot of heartache and frustration, but it produced an enduring kind of faith.
We all have days where we feel like failures. Where we maybe kind of sulk in our mistakes and defeat, where we pine in our problems when we should be poising ourselves toward His presence. For as many victories I’ve won in stepping into spiritual, emotional, and mental maturity, there are still days where I feel like a failure. As a son, as a leader, as a friend, as a child of God. But I’ve learned – again, through trial and error – how to shake off the dust. If I’m feeling defeated, I acknowledge it, recognize it, but never claim it as my reality. I don’t know if you realize this or not, but you do not have to identify yourself as your struggles, mistakes, failures, or hurts. Change your language. Stop claiming these things over yourself. Stop believing, thinking, talking, walking, and living like you’re a failure, like you’re anything less than a sanctified, called, cleansed, chosen child of God.
You do not have to lean into failure. Even if you made a mistake or did something you shouldn’t have, that mistake doesn’t have to become your identity. This is a hard lesson to learn and it’s hard to discipline your mind to lean into faith when the voice of failure can often seem so much louder.
This is something I have to be intentional about daily. But after all that I’ve been through with the Lord – all He’s brought me through – when questions arise in my life my automatic response isn’t to doubt the Lord or who He is – after all, He’s come this far with me, why would He leave now? Instead, my natural response to pain has become to lean into Jesus. If the season was painful, then I prioritized His presence. If I felt defeated, I remembered His mercy. When He felt distant, I reminded myself of His faithfulness.
He’s always been good. Through the worst of it, He’s never let me go. At the time, He may not have felt near, but looking back I laugh to think how I doubted His nearness. He was always singing over me, spinning wildly over me like a Father. He’s always been there. As surely as He was with me in the weeping, He’ll be with me in the dancing.
An evangelist friend of my family’s spent some time with us a few months ago. It was an incredible, incredible time of encounter and revival. (You can read about it here.) He spoke a lot of prophetic words and words of knowledge over me (as well as the other members of my family). That first night, he stared at me, pointed, and said, “You will not carry [what happened] with you into your future.” Mind you, this is the first time we’d ever met so he had no previous knowledge of who I am or what I’ve gone through. Over the next few days, he spoke similar words. “Don’t you ever wake up in the morning feeling like a failure again,” he said.
His words were a confirmation of the work Holy Spirit had been doing in my life. Great determination had awakened within me to reject the lies that failure tells me and lean into faith even when I make mistakes.
Friend, you don’t have to live under the weight of what happened to you. You don’t have to carry the weight of the things you’ve done. Know that it is covered. The price has been paid. Once and for all. You have been bought with the highest price. The blood of Jesus not only covers the sins that you once made, but also the sins that you will yet make – so long as you keep it all before the Lord. When the lies come, when you feel defeated, when failure rears its head, this is the enemy showing you his hand! Recognize his tactics and, rather than leaning into the lies, choose instead to issue a counter-attack. Throw yourself at the feet of Jesus through prayer, worship, and the Word – even if it feels uncomfortable, even if He feels far away.
Cling fast to Him like never before. Say bye-bye to failure and hello to faith. I promise you… the reward is worth the cost.