I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume most of us have failed at something. And I’m convinced how we see, internalize, and respond to our defeats and disappointments makes all the difference in the world.
Is your tendency to dwell on your mistake and self-flagellate over your lack of success? Do you get disproportionately angry, default to a victim mentality (Why does this always happen to meeeee?), or assign blame elsewhere? Do you dig in your heels determined to make it work at all costs (when it’s past time to let go), or are you paralyzed altogether? Do you consider yourself defined by your failure — that you are a failure — in contrast to have simply failed at something? Do you just give up? Or do you see your failures as an opportunity to learn something, shift direction, or try a new thing? Do you see how they might point you to Jesus?
What if your failures are an opportunity for God to be God in your life? For you to grow closer to Him, to be conformed to the image of Christ? For your failures to be received as a catalyst for transformation?
Our response to failure says something about our maturity level, both in general but also spiritually. This goes for big, spectacular failures, but also for the more common, everyday, ordinary sort of thing.
Like kitchen catastrophes.
Anyone who steps into my kitchen knows it’s my happy place. There, I’m in my element, and I’m confident in my abilities (namely, the ability to follow a recipe). It’s not that I think I’m the next Food Network star, but I’ve had some wonderful teachers and a lot of years of practice. The creative expression nourishes my soul while simultaneously feeding the bodies around my table. Cooking for others brings me joy.
Somewhere along the way, I became a scratch cook snob, at least when it came to baking. It wasn’t so much that I judged others who cooked treats from a box; I just developed a lot of pride about my pies and cakes and fancy-pants desserts. A lot of pride . . .
Had I considered what the Bible says about pride, I might have aspired to be a more humble baker:
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor (Proverbs 29:23).
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom (Proverbs 11:2).
And especially, Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
Instead, in His infinite wisdom and by His long-suffering grace, God found another way to deal with this subtle sin of pride in my life.
As part of a church supper club, I had signed up to bring dessert that month. I was so sure of my baking abilities, I selected a new recipe: a Kentucky Derby Pie. I was genuinely excited because chocolate + pecans + a group of people I loved, so I wanted to make something special. (Oh, it would be special, all right . . . )
The morning I made my pie was the start of a busy day, full of demands and distractions vying for attention (including my three young children). When the pie came out of the oven, it looked and smelled delicious. I couldn’t wait to slice and serve it to our supper club. They are going to be so impressed, I imagined.
Everyone brought their A-game for the course they provided that night. Our host grilled a beef tenderloin to perfection, and my pie was to be the perfect finale to our delicious meal.
Friends cleared the table and cleaned dishes while Ronda made coffee and Greg handed me a server to slice the pie. I leveled it to make the first cut but couldn’t penetrate the surface. Confused, I tried pressing harder and began sawing back and forth. Still, I couldn’t make a dent.
Concerned but optimistic, Greg handed me a serrated knife. I tried to “hammer” the point of the knife into it, just to get a cut started, and instead bent the knife. Not willing to concede without a fight, Greg poured hot coffee over the entire pie to soften it. Nothing.
That dessert was little more than concrete masquerading as a pie. I was mortified. Poor Ronda scavenged her kitchen looking for anything that could pass as dessert. Everyone was more than gracious, and they were kind enough to laugh with me and not at me.
I never figured out for sure where I had gone so wrong, but the next month I brought broccoli casserole.
Later though, it occurred to me how there’s value in our failures. They’ll often become seared into our memory, but more importantly, they can also point us to something we need, the perfection we crave: Jesus.
My mistakes and failed efforts don’t mean that I am a mistake or that I am a failure, but they do remind me of my need for Christ. Jesus is already what I will never be — perfect. He has already accomplished what is impossible for me despite my best efforts. Through His life, death, and resurrection, He loved me without condition, forgave me, paid the penalty of my sin, and reconciled me to God.
My failures may reveal my inadequacies, but they also become opportunities for me to see that God is my everything.
I love that God used a pie fail to transform my perspective of failure, but He always seems to find just the right way to teach me something about Himself.
Oh how I can relate. I am laughing inside at myself. I have to bring food for a memorial service on Monday. I have opted to bring the condiments and cream for the coffee. And save my blueberry pie for another time.
I believe God truly has a sense of humor.
Robin Dance says
Well, THIS sounds like a story :). And, I’m with you, Madeline…God has a wonderful sense of humor. That makes me so happy :).
Beth Williams says
Often times when I fail or make a mistake I call myself a failure & beat myself up. The lies of “not good enough, dumb, stupid, don’t even try” come & I believe them. God gently reminds me of ALL the good/smart things I’ve done. He also brings to mind that I am fearfully & wonderfully made in His image. He lovingly allows others into my life to disprove all the negative thoughts. When pride starts to come into my life He allows me to trip thus brining me back to dependence on Him.
Robin Dance says
It’s so good to hear how YOU hear God speaking TRUTH to and over you! Yes! Listen to the Holy Spirit whispering beauty and grace over your heart. So lovely.
Karen Knowles says
Thanks for sharing, Robin. Great message!
Robin Dance says
🙂 <3 (emoji's paint a thousand words 😉 )
Ruth Mills says
I too have been blessed with excellent teachers & experience in the kitchen. My mantra of serving new recipes to guests is “McDonald’s is always down the street if this doesn’t work”. I’m changing my mantra! My failures point to my need for Jesus & it is He who makes me brave not my skills!!! Thank you for tweaking my perspective to a much more mature & Godly one!
Robin Dance says
Should our new proverb be, “As you’ve been tweaked, go and tweak likewise”? 🙂
Seriously, I love hearing how the Holy Spirit is shifting your perspective toward Truth and a need for Jesus <3.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Thank you Robin for an excellent message. For sharing your heart. You know what comes to my mind as read what you wrote. God still loves in our mistakes. No matter what they are. God can use them in a nice way to help us grow closer to him. To know we need God for every thing we do. I can remember one time it is nothing to do with cooking at all. I but it was to with a group in our Church for women called TLC. That stand’s for Tender Loving Care. We were learning how to do crocheting. To make squares for a blanket for an Old People home. I did try but the more I tried the more I couldn’t do it. It was not for me crocheting. The Lady beside me who was very good at it. Said Dawn what kind of muddle have you got yourself into. She laughed. I knew she meant no harm by it. But I did feel stupid. I could not get the hang of it no matter how I tried. The woman running the TLC group for women in our Church who was our Salvation Army Officer said Dawn take it home and look it up online beginners crocheting. I did that it nearly drove me bats as the saying going. That night at TLC I put the Crocheting down. The Lady that was good at it gave me a hug. Said Dawn God loves a trier. After she had finished laughing at the disaster mine was. My Husband said to me at home when I went on YouTube to learn beginners crocheting. Stop your still not getting the hang of it. Your just making yourself mad. I must have tried following the beginners crocheting trying to follow what it said on YouTube for hours. But no good. I had to give up defeated. That it was not for me. So I we t back to our TLC group the following week our Salvation Army Officer said well Dawn how did you get on. I said being honest with her. I went online. Tried a beginner crocheting. But no couldn’t do it either. So I stay and you all the expert’s doing it a ease. I did feel bad watching them that I couldn’t master it. But I remember what the person said to the week before that was good at it. God loves a trier. God I them heard him say Dawn I am proud of who you are. We’re all not good at everything. Nor can we all be. But I am proud of you my Daughter for trying. So I was lead to put a big smile on my face and say yes God is proud of me. He still loves me even if I am not good at Crocheting. That let to my failure being a beautiful moment. As God still see my trying and me as beautiful no matter what. Thank you Robin for what you shared about your cooking. I love you all my sister incourage. I pray for you and the work you do. May God richly bless you all. Dawn Ferguson-Little xxx
Robin Dance says
Yes! God loves a trier! And, no…we aren’t supposed to be good at EVERYthing! That God would turn a failed attempt into a beautiful moment leaves us with hope, doesn’t it? Thank you for sharing your heart, your prayers, and your encouragement, Dawn.
Gail Noe says
Love the truth. Our failures and inadequacies show us our need for Christ. We are not a failure. I look back & see the numerous times the spirit of rejection had convinced me I was the problem. Until Holy Spirit began to teach & everything changed. Christ in us the hope of glory!!!
Marinalva Sickler says
Robin, I had failures too in the kitchen because I cook many times from scratches. I followed recipes too and it seemed that there were failures along. Your reflection made me laugh as I recall my own mistakes in the kitchen and in life too. Hugs,