I can’t remember the first time I heard the phrase “epic fail”, but I remember thinking what a great phrase it is (like “bless your heart”). Sometimes it so perfectly sums up life’s circumstances and our choices.
One definition says it is “when something can be seen to be a total failure” (urbandictionary.com, 9/15/06). Another definition says it is “a mistake of such monumental proportions that it requires its own term in order to successfully point out the unfathomable shortcomings of an individual or group” (urbandictionary.com, 3/24/08).
I don’t think anything is ever a total failure, since there is something to be learned from every experience we have. But there is a failure that can be monumental in its consequences and the effects on our lives.
Friday was an epic fail day for me. Two months of unexpressed frustrations, incorrect accusations, and unreturned snarky comments bubbled up into verbal sparring. There were no winners in our battle of the bad attitudes. We were both losers in finally expressing (to a degree) our frustrations in working together. It almost seems like an exercise in futility, since nothing was resolved. No one talked about and resolved any of the underlying issues. I’ve been thinking about this all weekend, wondering how everything will play out on Monday.
How easy it is to point fingers and assign blame. How easy it is to be right in our opinions and judgments. We know we’re being self-righteous and self-centered, but we don’t care. We like wallowing in the mud of our emotions and enjoy the thought of throwing that mud on our “opponent” to teach him/her a lesson.
But God is funny. He is always there in the mud with us, that “Voice” trying to talk over our self-righteousness. The Voice of truth. The Voice of love. The Voice of sacrifice. The Voice of forgiveness. He wants to be heard, but we tune Him out and talk over His voice. We outright ignore His guidance. But it’s always there, talking to us, waiting for us to listen.
And His voice will pop up when you aren’t expecting it. Like choosing to rewatch North Point Church’s singles series “Defining Grace” on a Sunday afternoon. Almost a dozen series to choose from, and this is where I started. By God’s design.
I know I could have had a better attitude on Friday. I know I could have been more cooperative. I know I could have responded differently. I know I could have been less intentional in being passive aggressive. No matter how many wrong accusations had been thrown at me. No matter how many snarky comments and obnoxious statements had been made to me. No matter how many emails had been sent to point out and “correct” my “wrong” behavior. No matter how many times I was excluded from the conversations and the decisions being made.
I know this, but again, TWO MONTHS of all this tends to wear a person down. Two months of criticism, derogatory comments, and accusations can tear down any normal person’s boundaries of decency and wear away the desire to walk in love. Two months of negativity can make a person act irrationally and irresponsibly.
I’m not trying to make excuses for my wrong behavior and bad attitudes. I’m not trying to say I am not part of the problem.
One of Rodney’s points about grace is this – “every time we give grace, we lay our life down and die to what we’re owed” (Rodney Anderson, Buckhead Church singles pastor).
I’m owed several dozen apologies. I’m owed respect. I’m owed space. I’m owed acknowledgement that I am not all these things I have been accused of (always) being.
But no matter how much I push and how much I protest, I cannot live my life expecting to get any of these things. I cannot live my life expecting other people to acknowledge their behavior or be willing to change.
So where does that leave me? Continuing to work on myself. I figure I am better off than Israel was in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. They continued to question His good plan for them and complained incessantly about His way. So eventually God gave left them in the wilderness, to die in their disengagement after wandering around the same mountain for 40 years.
And how am I better off? In my epic failures, I don’t disengage from God. I don’t turn away from God and rail that He let something horrific happen to me. I don’t blame God for my life being a bunch of sour grapes or only lemons. Instead, I look at each circumstance – good and bad – as a chance to learn what God wants to teach me. He wants to teach me, guide me, redirect me, mold me, help me, empower me, equip me, tweak me, and propel me. And sometimes I just don’t want to listen or go. Sometimes I want to sit around and make lists of all the wrongs and the faults, to rehearse all the bad things being done to me and around me. But growth doesn’t happen when we remain stagnant in our blame or acknowledge our epic fails.
And I want to grow. I want to be a better person. I want to have a more prolific love walk. I want to be driven by love instead of emotions, acceptance instead of anger, and forgiveness instead of folly.
So Friday was an epic fail. Tomorrow holds the opportunity to react differently. So I’ll consider the epic fail for the teaching moment it is and continue on my journey. For God is always with me, even in the epic fail. And an epic fail is never the end of my journey; it is merely the beginning of the next step toward my next level. And the best part? God never loses hope in me. God always gives me another chance to try again and get it right.
So don’t let your epic fail be the end of your hope or your journey. Failure isn’t final unless you let it be. Choose to let your epic fail be a step in the right direction (back) to God. Let God turn your epic fail into an epic testimony and an epic example of His amazing grace.
Marie Fremin, 5/31/15