“You’re the best!”
“Keep it up, kid!”
My generation is built on hot air. We crave the tasty morsels of a compliment as a heroin addict sells his soul for a hit. We’ve been told we’re great from before we could even spell the word. Our homes were built with shrines honoring our early accomplishments. You got your yellow belt in karate? Let’s hang it up. As we grew up and went to school to be educated in the essentials of life, our only discipline was when we weren’t saying nice things to our classmates. Might as well have put a sign up in the classroom that read, “These are the forbidden F-words: Failure, Forfeit, & Freak.” No one failed, because we’re all winners. No one forfeits, because there was no competition. No one’s a freak, because we’re all unique. We were all great and even if it became painfully evident that not everyone was, we were encouraged to fake it. Now, there’s a useful F-word.
I wish someone was brave enough to tell me the truth. I think honesty is more strengthening than flattery. Character is built upon reality.
You see, our generation was doomed from the beginning. Our lives were built on the precariousness of our own own egos. It’s equivalent to building a skyscraper on top of a marble. We were so filled with lies that once our ego exploded in our face, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Up until that point, we had never experienced failure or heard the sweet sound of rejection. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we need to stop affirming one another, complimenting each other, or encouraging a friend. That’s all fine and well. But maybe what we do need in our generation is a healthy dose of “you suck” with a side of “no”. Maybe that’s what we need to remedy this epidemic that’s killing our generation. Maybe that will kill our pride. Maybe that will drown our sense of entitlement.
I think this is where the Gospel becomes fresh life-giving news for the heart that craves a dose of painful reality. We’ve been so adorned with our own “greatness” that it’s become nearly impossible to see our own depravity. But when met with it, most respond with a deep sigh of relief. Finally, something that makes sense. I am fallen. I am mistake prone. I am broken. I am not great.
Depravity is good news, not only because it kills our pride, but because it helps us to see things as they really are. Yet we never forget, in our sin, Jesus came to us so that He may purchase our redemption. He is the truly great one. He is the one deserving of all praise. He is the perfect one. And it’s in Him that we find our true identity: great sinners saved by a greater Grace.
You suck, but God is good.
More often than not, I’m failing at something. Though I’d like more than anything to hide my failures, it’s never easy to do. Failure comes when you expect it the least and lingers longer than you’d ever like. But if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that I should embrace failure. Why is failure good? I’ve come up with a few reasons.
1. Past failures prepare you for future successes. It’s the old adage, “Learn from your mistakes”. Failures help you realize what didn’t work, so you can find what will work. And think about it…when your down, there’s no place to go, but up. Let your failures be your greatest teachers.
2. Failures are the best sobriety tests. Look failure in the eye (and never forget to see yourself). Not saying that you are the failure, but in the same regard don’t turn your head when failure holds up the mirror of truth. For the proud, it really does bring you down to size. It helps you realize that you are nothing apart from God and can do nothing without Him. Let it be a litmus test of your humanity.
3. We fail, but God never fails. Failures show us that we are indeed fallen beings. We are marred by sin & are prone to fail (and that’s a good thing). Why? Because all the more, in our failures, we can recognize that God is never failing. In that darkness, the light of his unfailing nature shines the brightest. He is God and we are not. It’s always good to be reminded of that.