Andy Denen

Ideas on life, church, and culture.

When I’m Weak

I spend a lot of my time trying to look like I know what I’m doing. A lot of times people come to ask me questions you can see it in their eyes, they expect me to know the answer. I do not like coming across like I don’t know what I’m doing.

But the truth is, I am weak. I am scared. I am uncertain a lot of the time. I don’t know how things are going to turn out or if the new things I try will work.

You ever feel that way? Like if it doesn’t work you’re going to be left feeling like the kid who’s parents were late to pick them up from practice after school. Standing there with your bag in your hand looking into the sunset wondering why you’re the only one left.

We’re led to believe that “things will work out” but that’s only true if you do something. It doesn’t just happen. It costs something, it requires effort. Nobody and I mean nobody ever just “makes it.” Because that’s simply not how it works. Failure is more common than success. But it’s also a prerequisite to it. You cannot succeed without first failing.

Read it again: Failure is a prerequisite for success.

Another truth is failure isn’t final. It’s an event. It’s not a person.

Failure actually matters. A lot.

My favorite thing about my weaknesses is that they draw me the closest to the people around me. My strengths may make me funny or enjoyable or liked. But my weaknesses are the things that show me who the people that really care about me are. Because they are still there when the weaknesses are exposed. I can be vulnerable with those people. I can be honest. I can be 100% truly myself.

My weaknesses also make me aware of my need for a Savior. If I succeeded all of the time I may be led to incorrectly believe I am capable on my own of accomplishing great things. My failures force me to trust my Savior for redemption, for validation, for acceptance… for salvation.

Failure also gives me a greater sense of gratitude when success does come. How can I truly know the great joy of success without comparing it to the agony of failure? Failure shouldn’t be avoided. It should be leaned into. Of course we shouldn’t plan to fail, but we shouldn’t be surprised if and when we do. It’s part of the natural course of success.

Failure teaches something success can’t. Food doesn’t grow on the mountain top. Only in the valley. The air is thin on top of mountain, it can’t sustain life long term. It’s only meant to be enjoyed for a season and then it’s back to the valley to gain sustenance and fuel for the next attempt.

Failure isn’t final. But success shouldn’t be the goal.

The goal should be to answer the question of what we do to leverage both the failure and success to pull ourselves closer to God and in turn draw others closer to Him as well? It should also be about building the community in which we currently live.

Failure isn’t final.

Success isn’t the end.

It’s a cycle. It moves and breathes and creates and destroys and grows.

Fear of failure is a myth. Because being paralyzed by fear of failure is a failure in itself. What we’re most likely afraid of is not just failing, but how that failure will effect us, our view of ourselves, others view of us or some combination of all of those.

My oldest, worst habit is when I think things to death. I create problems that aren’t there and I overthink myself into a useless pile of worry. More often than I’d care to admit. But there’s a quote I heard in a movie that just floored me. It took me a long time to process what it actually means, but the more I think about it the more true it becomes. Nelson Mandela used it in his inauguration speech in 1994, but it is originally attributed to Maryanne Williamson. Think about this truth:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

You are a child of God. Failure doesn’t define you. Worry doesn’t define you. Insecurities don’t get to define you. Broken relationships don’t get to define you. You are a child of God. Success can’t define you.

You

are

a

child

of

God.

I still worry sometimes. But when I do, I know how to fight back. I don’t always win. But I always get back up. What do you fight? You can fight back with those words, “I am a child of God.” And if you fall. Get. Back. Up. Keep going. Don’t quit.

You matter.

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