Why I Was Terrified, Or: 3 Reasons to Celebrate Failure

I was convinced I would fail. In fact, I was terrified.
(Have you ever been there before?)
My husband, parents, and friends all told me they were confident in me, that I would do just fine.

But deep inside, I knew I wouldn’t. When I took the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam, I was ready to fail.

Celebration

My husband and I had agreed: after I went to take the test this morning, we were going to celebrate tonight, no matter the results. At first, I was skeptical when my husband suggested the idea. Why or how could I celebrate if I had failed the test? Surely a more appropriate response was to huddle up under covers in the dark and cry my eyes out?

 

But no, he was adamant. We would celebrate whatever happened.

 

As I chewed over this idea, and as he and I prayed about it, I began to realize he was right. Even if I failed the NCMHCE, there would be reason to celebrate.

Have you ever considered celebrating a failure? Or is there something you’ve failed at recently that you’re wondering how you could even start to rejoice over it?

As I prayed, God showed me three reasons that failure could be celebrated. And in case you’re in a similar boat (metaphorically speaking, of course), here are the “whys” for feeling good about failure.

Why You Should Celebrate Failure

1) It means you attempted something hard.

But Katy, you say, I just FAILED at it! What does an attempt matter?

It matters immensely. It means you saw something that you could potentially fail at, and you embraced it anyways. You didn’t let it scare you. You didn’t back down. You knew that it mattered, and you gave it your best shot.

Do you know how amazing that is? How many other people in your shoes would have looked at that obstacle and walked away from it? You stayed and persevered! You tried! THAT is something worth celebrating. Celebrate that you were brave; celebrate that you attempted where others wouldn’t have. Whatever the outcome, you went for it! Wow…celebrate that!

Even if you fail, celebrate that you were brave.Click To Tweet

2) You learned something invaluable – and you’re better positioned for success.

But Katy, you say, what did I learn? All I learned was that I failed! I couldn’t cut it; I didn’t know enough; I didn’t have the right skills. What does that teach me except that I should give up?

No! Giving up means giving up your advantage for next time! Don’t you realize what your attempt has taught you? First, it taught you how brave you were, how hard-working you are (see #1 above again). What a great thing to know about yourself!

Secondly, it taught you more about the task you want to accomplish. It has informed you for your next attempt!

You know more now; you’re familiar with how the process goes. You know your weaker areas and what to improve on. You know your strengths and gained confidence in those. You’re better positioned for success now than ever! Don’t give up when you’re ahead. Celebrate what you’ve learned and the edge it has given you for next time.

 3) God’s will is being done.

But Katy, you say, … really? God’s will? How on earth was this God’s will? Is it God’s will that I should fail?

Maybe.

But Katy! (Yes, I know what you’re thinking.) How can I trust a God who wants me to fail?

Let me clarify: God isn’t out to make you fail. But God is there to use your “failure” to accomplish His best purposes for your life.

Hear me out on this, ok? There were several key times in my life that I had disappointments and failures, some of them devastating and heartbreaking. I never understood why God allowed me to go through them. As years passed, though, I began to see how God has used every one of them.

The breakup that shattered my heart for years? God used it to save me for my husband today, who is better than I could have imagined. The job that said they couldn’t keep me on anymore? It positioned me to find a job at just the right time that would pay for my master’s degree. That depressive episode that knocked me flat? It lead me to my counselor who connected me to the job where I got most of my licensed intern hours, allowing me to finish more quickly than anticipated.

Time after time, I saw God use each failure and disappointment to position me for something better. How amazing is that? What a reason to celebrate!

I determined that if I failed the exam today, maybe God was putting me in a place where I would get licensed later at just the time that the best job opened up. Maybe God wanted me to focus on other things for a few more months before I got licensed. Maybe God wanted to provide in other ways before I got a counseling job. Who knows?

But I knew this: if I failed, God would work it for good – and not just my good: my BEST.

God can use your 'failure' to accomplish His best purposes for your life.Click To Tweet

Yesterday

God spoke pretty strongly to me yesterday. He showed me why I was terrified; He showed me why I believed I would fail:

I believed I would fail because I was trusting in my own efforts…and not His power.

Ouch.

I wasn’t sure I had put in enough effort, so I believed I would fail. Instead, I needed to be trusting in God’s power and strength in me.

Last night in our church service, God underlined His message to me in the passage we read:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Wow. Ok, Lord! I’m getting the message.

Today

I woke up at 6:00 AM to get ready. My husband made me breakfast and coffee. And I realized I was calm.

 

I knew that going into my test today, I had the Lord at my side. If I passed, it was because He was with me and had strengthened me. If I passed, I knew it would be because of His great mercy. And I was excited for Him to get all the glory in my test results. I was more confident, because I was trusting in God instead of myself.

I could be confident, because I was trusting in God instead of myself.Click To Tweet
I knew I could still fail, but I would praise God for that, too, because it meant He was working something better.

At 9:00 AM, I stepped out of the testing center with a piece of paper in my hands. An outcome was written on it:

Examination Result: PASS

And I praised God, because He had done it!

And I praised God, because I knew He had taught me to celebrate even if I “failed.” And you know what? Whatever you’re facing, you can celebrate failure, too. Because in the end, it’s really not failure. In the end, it’s just one more step into the beautiful plans God has for you.

Trust Him today, and celebrate! Your best is yet to come.

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18 thoughts on “Why I Was Terrified, Or: 3 Reasons to Celebrate Failure

  1. This is so true! What appears as failures are often times concealed as protections – God’s protections over us for what He knows is ahead. We have such tunnel vision but He sees it all and knows how our story will be written. Thank you for sharing and congrats on passing!

    1. Yes! The Lord definitely protects from what is ahead, even when we can’t see it. I am so thankful for a God like that! He is the great story-writer of our lives. Thank you for reading and the congratulations! God is good!

  2. Congrats on passing! You are right, the success is in the attempt to begin at all. I find this especially timely as I begin my blogging journey. It’s scary to put things out there, but at least I am doing it. I’m sure many will relate to this. Thanks for a great personal story to remind us to try new things and to have the faith that it will all be worth it!

    1. Thank you so much, Stacey! Exactly, there is so much success in beginning at all. I definitely thought of it in terms of blogging, as well! I’m glad we are both taking the leap of faith to blog, to learn from any ‘failures,’ and to have faith that our efforts will be worthwhile. Thanks for reading!

  3. Love your faith! I agree, I think we get wrapped up in always having to win. Sometimes we need to step back and realize God has a plan for us and we need to quit putting ourselves down if “our” plan doesn’t work out. Beautifully put! And congrats on passing!

    1. Thank you, Lacey! Oh, I loved what you said: yes, “we need to quit putting ourselves down if ‘our’ plan doesn’t work out.” Amen! It’s ok to not win, and it’s ok (read: the best!) to trust in God’s plans. Thanks for reading and your reply!

  4. Congratulations Katy. I’m so proud of you. Most times we also refuse to accept the fact that God’s ways are not are ways and he is always on time. I’ve braced myself up to the fact that if I fail at anything it means it’s not yet my God’s ordained time for me. Thanks for sharing the subtle reminder.

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, God’s timing is hard to understand, but I truly have always seen it to be best. Sometimes it might take a decade or more for me to see that! But He’s never failed me yet. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. Our fear often paralyzes us. That’s why toddlers never fail to amaze me. They are not scared to try, fail, try, fail and try again until they get it right.
    Something we “grown ups” should learn more.

    1. How true! Toddlers have such confidence; it never crosses their mind they will fail. If they fall down, they just see it as part of the process. So should we. Thanks so much for reading!

  6. As difficult as it is, I always remind myself that when I’m failing… fail forward. I may have failed, but WILL turn my mistakes into stepping stone for success.

    1. Absolutely, Larisa! Mistakes can definitely be the stepping stones that take us further…if we let them! We can take stones to build up a wall in our path, or a pathway to our next success. Great point! Thanks for sharing, and for reading. 🙂

  7. I really enjoyed this even though I am non-religious. I like your writing style and it was neat to read. Congrats on passing.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. And thank you for the congratulations! I am so grateful.

  8. What an inspiring truth that God does use our failures in life, and doesn’t fail us. Just the encouragement we all needed this week with the 10k challenge, but also our other obstacles we may face in life. Thank you for sharing the Lord with us. 🙂

    1. “God does use our failures in life, and doesn’t fail us…” YES! I love that – amen! I definitely see Him teaching similar lessons in our 10K Challenge. 🙂 But it’s so true in all areas of life. Thank you for reading and your lovely comment!

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