Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fear of Failure

I have a ridiculous fear of failure. There. I said it. Aren't confession and acceptance the first steps to change? I first identified this fear two years ago when I was rejected from grad school. Up until that point, school was my kingdom. There was rarely a class I couldn't conquer or a test I couldn't master with a little hard work, good friends, and studying (although math gave me a run for my money on more than one occasion). But as much as I would fret over test results or grades, I rarely doubted that I would succeed in the end.

When I received that dreaded rejection letter in the mail, something snapped. My fear of failure stretched like a mile-wide valley, and I was about to plunge over the edge. Okay, I actually did plunge over the edge. It was more like a nosedive. My fear beat me. More than that, it paralyzed me. I grew angry and bitter, defensive to anyone who challenged me or touched a raw nerve in passing conversation. Not my best moments, and I wish I could take them back. But, I wouldn't change that season.

It took an act of failure to acknowledge my fear. My heart was wrapped in a wall thicker than Jericho's. But through people and circumstances, the Lord took a chisel, and piece by piece began to whittle away the stone. When my heart was once again exposed, I panicked. I had allowed a mentor to talk me into writing a book, a dream I had long nursed but denied reality. I began this wonderful, scary process of walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) It is much like Indian Jones staring out over a chasm and taking a step onto a bridge he can't see.

© The Last Crusade

Now, two years later, I daily acknowledge and commit my fear to the the One who has overcome the world. I remember that success as the world defines it is not always success as the Lord defines it. If I wish to be faithful, no matter the outcome, I must do as Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 "deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." I am still deathly afraid of failure. I am afraid that I misread the direction when the Lord closed all the doors, pointed to my computer screen, and said, "Write." I'm fearful that I'm making a mistake in starting book 2. But, I acknowledge that my faith is now bigger than my fear. My God is in control. He always has been. Regardless of whether either book ever sees publication, what He taught me through the journey was acknowledgement of His Lordship and His hand in the midst of the process. So, rejecting my fear of failure, I cling to this promise, "The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." Psalm 138:8. With the Lord, I won't fail. He simply has better plans in mind.

What are you afraid of?

This post is linked with (In)courage


  1. "I remember that success as the world defines it is not always success as the Lord defines it."

    Excellent, Kariss. I also like this: "my faith is now bigger than my fear." That's my prayer for me. So thankful that God is in control, even when I don't believe it because of my fears.

  2. Kariss, failure is my fear too! It's going to be great going through this study with you ladies who are in the same boat! Matthew 16:24 has been in my head for the past two weeks- funny you should mention it. :)