Somewhere along the way, I began to believe that it is better to learn from other people’s mistakes than to make your own. While I believe that there’s truth to that statement, I have begun to see that it has become a mask for fear in my life. I’m beginning to see that I am terrified of making mistakes. I’m terrified of failing. Of picking the wrong person. Of going the wrong way.
Therefore I just sit and wait. And wait. And wait.
I’m not saying waiting is wrong. Sometimes waiting is God’s way of saving us from our own stupidity, and the cruelty of life in a fallen world. I read a quote by the incredible C.S. Lewis recently: “I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless he sees that it is good for him to wait.” I wholeheartedly believe this is true, even if I don’t always appreciate it.
But waiting often becomes an excuse to not do; to not try. It becomes a disguise for the deeper fear within: the fear of failure. This manifests itself in every part of my life: I won’t play a sport unless I’m good at it (and I’m no good at any sports so I don’t play sports), I won’t play my music for anyone outside my group of close friends unless I have gotten raving reviews about it. I won’t say anything in large groups because I don’t think it will be funny enough, or smart enough. I won’t post the link to my blog on my Facebook page because I’m insecure about my writing. Failing frightens me. Not being good enough, not measuring up scares me immensely.
I was born with perfectionist tendencies. If I see a typo in a book, the author almost immediately loses credibility with me. I’m more of a perfectionist than I let on. Some people are obnoxious perfectionists; I just sit and quietly analyze, dissecting conversations, glances, statements spoken and unspoken. I keep a memory log of all the mistakes my friends have made in their dating lives – the lies they’ve bought into, the insecurities they’ve fallen prey to, the losers they’ve handed their hearts to – and I vow never to repeat those mistakes. When my turn comes around, I’ll be smarter and wiser and will make the right decision every time. And then the fear that I won’t actually be smarter or wiser, and that I’ll make those stupid mistakes comes and makes it home in my heart. And so I never move. I never do. I never say.
If we never risk failing, our lives – our stories – become this dull, monotonous narrative that neither inspires nor excites. We miss the point. Real women are messy. They don’t have it all together, and they are far from all-knowing. They make mistakes. Yet the wonder of His love is that he takes our ugly messes and makes something so profoundly beautiful that we can’t take the praise for.
The funny thing is, God’s not the one who places these conditions on us. He doesn’t expect us to make the right decision every time, after all, if we never failed Jesus’ death was for naught. But we accept these conditions as infallible truth. I accept these conditions as infallible truth. Because I’d rather not do anything than make that one mistake that will lead to an everlasting scar, to heartache, unfathomable pain, a divorce, raising children on my own…the list is endless.
So I sit and wait. Not contentedly, mind you. I sit and wait, fussing, complaining and hating every minute of it, yet it will take a force like that of a tidal wave to get me off my behind.
Maybe I should pray for a tidal wave.