I’ve taken up woodworking here and there as we settle into a new home. I’m not very experienced at it, but I did buy some new tools to help me at least fail at it properly. Each time I mess something up, I at least did it with the right tool.
In the past I would cut some jagged edge along a piece of wood, but I could console myself that I didn’t have the right kind of saw, sufficient clamps, or a suitable work table.
Now I’m in a much better position to create competent projects, and it’s still a good 50/50 chance that it’s going to look that way it’s supposed to look. Failure is a routine part of my day, and that can drain away the restorative benefits that woodworking could give to me.
It has been a master class in facing failure and then moving on from failure. It’s something I think about a lot as a Christian when I give in to my own weakness and stupidity. The old vice of sloth or acedia can come knocking on the regular, and it can feel really awful to have failed YET AGAIN!
Here are a few thoughts that have come to mind in the midst of my woodworking that I have applied to my “spiritual failures” as well.
Be Honest without Immersing in Negativity
The trap of negative self-talk can make any failure a real mess. It’s a downward spiral that doesn’t seem to have an escape.
When it comes to woodworking, I can beat myself up pretty good with negative self-talk. Yes, I should be honest about my failures, but it doesn’t help me to wallow in them or to view them as a dead end.
Failure doesn’t have to be the last word, and if I’m at least honest about what went wrong, I’ll be in a better place in the future.
There Is No Perfect Place to Begin Again
Picking up another brand new piece of wood is often humbling. I can tell myself, “Well, this thing isn’t going to look any better than it does now when I’m done with it!”
There is no perfect way to start over after failure. The first steps after failure can feel clunky and uncertain.
There’s the temptation to beat yourself up and to wonder if you’ll ever get out of this rut. Even if you know you’ve been forgiven, starting over isn’t easy.
God Is Most Concerned with Your Health and Restoration
Jesus talked about repentance because it’s a necessary step toward spiritual health and restoration, not as a “gotcha” moment. He’s not trying to out us as frauds or to humiliate us as some kind of divine retribution.
Yes, repentance can be humbling, humiliating, and illuminating in the most uncomfortable of ways. Yet, this is one step in the process, not the end goal. Jesus wants us to be healed much like a doctor wants a sick patient to fully recover.
There may be relapses, and we may be responsible for those relapses, but ultimately, Jesus wants to see us thrive so that we can have intimacy with God and bless others.
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