A Message for When You Feel Like a Failure

Grace is a tricky thing. It’s something we all need but are loathe to accept. Although we perhaps aren’t as generous with it as we could be, we’d still much rather give it than receive it. 

My son Ben is seven. He has been writing books, typing pages on the computer and printing them out, leaving plenty of space for illustrations. (As I have taught him. 😉

His most recent version was about Ninjago, a weighty tome that was a full eight pages in length. Ben’s big sister Lucy served as editor, helping correct some misspellings and punctuation errors. Before her involvement, the sentences were choppy, missing some words, and as most of the copy was generated by sound-spelling, it was tainted by the common accent of childhood.

For example: “Liybawey.”

Can you figure it out? It’s one of our family’s favorite haunts. 

Also known as the “library.”

Now, do I look down on him for the missteps, for the obvious spelling errors, and the shallow, predictable plot? Of course not. Do I point out to him that he’s not on par with his sister, or me, or Ernest Hemingway? No.

I am gladdened by his openness to his sister’s help. I am genuinely impressed by his effort, delighted by his enthusiasm, and happy with his progress. 

He is further along than he was yesterday.

Why don’t we afford ourselves this same kindness? If you’re at all like me, we regularly compare ourselves to others and beat ourselves up for our imperfections. We habitually doubt our “enoughness.”

Even though earthly fathers often fall woefully short of the ideal, I believe that my Heavenly Father uses my experience as a father to teach me a little something about Him.

He sees my mistakes. He knows what could be better. He knows others who are further along the journey than me. But he doesn’t scold me for not being there yet. He doesn’t mock my crude efforts and unsophisticated results. He is genuinely impressed by my effort, delighted by my enthusiasm, and happy with my progress.

He knows that I am further along than I was yesterday.

So are you. You may not be perfect, but you are enough.

The fact that you are a work in progress makes you no less of a masterpiece.

To me, the amazing thing about grace is that in order to receive it, all we have to do is accept it.

A version of this article first appeared at EscapeAdulthood.com.


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