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Lately, I have been thinking about my failures. Yes! I have them! And lately, once again, I find them intruding rudely into my life. They interrupt my daily routine with their nagging pleas for attention. They weigh down my heart with their constant accusations. They tell me lies about myself that, sometimes, I believe. But, they also tell me truths about myself that I need to face (those are, perhaps, the scariest things my failures bring my way).

We all have different ways of dealing with failure. Some people ignore them and pretend they never happened. They stuff them deep down into the underbelly of their souls, fix their eyes ahead (not behind), and keep moving forward. Some people rationalize their failures. They give reason upon reason for what happened until they come to the conclusion that they never actually did anything wrong. Some people analyze their failures endlessly, looking for the exact thing they did wrong so that they can correct it, or fix their dysfunction, or understand their mistake so that they can make sure it never happens again.

Some people, consciously or unconsciously, sense their failures and live everyday of their life as an act of atonement. They go out of their way to do charitable works; or to be more accepting of others; or to work harder and achieve more. Some people hide their failures in a closet and live every day of their life beneath a blanket of shame, protecting the secret(s), fearing exposure.

Personally, I have done all of the above. But, there came a point in my life when I realized that confronting my failures was necessary for me to grow and mature in life, spiritually and emotionally. And, confronting my failures meant I had to confront myself and take a good honest look in the mirror and decide whether or not what I saw reflected the person I aspire to be. I can’t think of a single time when doing so was “easy”. But it did, after some practice, become more “normal”. And the fruit of walking through that process is a heart that can draw closer to God, understand His heart, discover truths and wisdom, carry more compassion and understanding for others, and be an extension of His grace.

The thing is…sometimes our failures come from a place of inner woundedness. We fall consistently into negative behavior patterns, and we’ll continue to fall into the same behavior patterns until the wound is healed. Sometimes, our failures come from a lack of character. We know the right thing to do, yet we choose the opposite way anyway. And sometimes our failures come from a conspiracy of circumstances that put us in a position to fail, no matter what we do. There are times when we are outmanned, outgunned, and under-equipped, and yet we still rise to the challenge and overcome. Other times, we rise to the challenge and find defeat. And sometimes, we don’t rise at all.

I find myself in the past few years trying to come to terms with a “conspiracy of circumstances” that occurred in my life that were very difficult, very painful, and very confusing. Things went suddenly and horribly wrong. No matter what path I took to resolve them, the atmosphere just got heavier and the light dimmed further into darkness. I struggled for a very long time, trying to find an answer. I looked inside. I looked to God. I looked to others. I finally just “let go”. What has been the most frustrating part of the process has been trying to come to terms with what was “my fault” and what was not. There has been this constant feeling of “loose ends” — dangling threads from that situation that have yet to be resolved; a part of the story that has yet to be told.

Those loose ends make clear-eyed confrontation difficult. So many unanswered questions. So many possible causes. I find myself purposefully moving on, and yet, hindered at the same time as I continue to question myself. Still, I have been in this type of situation before and have come to look upon it as a gift from God. In each circumstance, I discovered aspects of my life that needed transformation. Sometimes it was inner healing; sometimes it was growing up in some areas; sometimes it was being set free from spiritual chains. But, in each instance I discovered more about God then I ever thought imaginable, and I discovered something even more amazing…His capacity to restore and redeem what seemed lost forever.