“Fall Forward, Fail Fervently.” What an unusual title! That’s a lot of “F’s.” You certainly can’t say it very fast without getting tongue-tied and sounding pretty weird. Still – falling and failing are scary to everybody. Those two concepts are associated with missing the mark. Most people want to succeed. Well, by just adding two describing words to falling and failing, it changes everything. Fall Forward – Fail Fervently. Now – we’re back to that unusual title. What on earth does that mean?
Fall Forward, Fail Fervently
Falling and failing directly affect you. We already stated they affect everyone. If severe enough, they can devastate you because their effect is strong. Since falling and failing have such power, and since they happen to everyone at some point in life, it makes sense to find a way to fall forward and fail fervently. In other words, milk these disappointing missteps of every bit of good you can get out of them.
It’s not sin to fall or fail when you are working to be who God created and accomplish His purpose for your life. In fact, it’s human to fall and fail as you learn, grow, and master various life skills. Working at concepts, developing your skills, trying something new – these open doors to future success. And they build character. But there are some risks involved.
Confronting fear and practicing courage are two effective ways you can minimize risks. When you are courageous in the face of fear, you can fall forward and fail fervently.
There was a time when we all did better confronting fear and exercising courage. We need to take a look at “the little guys” to remember.
Let’s learn from babies. We can glean a lot by watching them. That’s how we used to do it. That’s our beginning. No one graduates from toddlerhood without some falls and failings. But babies and toddlers seem to fall and fail better than adults. Maybe we can learn from their unpretentious example.
When a baby first starts to walk, they are on their bottom (and other parts of their body) more than on their feet until they get the hang of it. They barely balance as they put the weight of their wobbly body over each next step. It’s endearing to watch – although they may not feel thrilled about scraping themselves off the floor again and again. Still, they get up and try again.
Some babies even learn how to l-e-a-n and fall forward since they know they might fall again. That sounds like a reasonable strategy. It gets them closer to where they are headed.
When we grow up, maybe we should learn how to lean into our falls, bringing our very best forward . . . and not letting a fall keep us down.
When “the little guys” begin to exercise skills they will use the rest of their lives, they find themselves learning maneuvers. Whether it’s balance, muscle control, nerve responses, judgement, or even lack of practice – it takes a lot of failing before these little guys figure stuff out. It’s part of learning.
You’ve got to give them credit. They fail fervently. It is with passion and zeal they go after new abilities. And seriously? They figure stuff out! From physical maneuvers to power struggles to communication and relationship skills to rewards and aspirations.
When we grow up, maybe we should live with more passion and zealous energy as we go after things that really matter. Maybe we should watch children and re-adopt good things we see as they strive to trouble-shoot this complicated world.
Have you ever noticed toddlers just never give up (well, not often)! If there’s something they want, they are simply NOT DONE until they have what they want in their cute, pudgy grasp! The goodness or badness element is learned as they invest their endless energy into figuring life out. If it’s a good thing and they want it, they go after it. It it’s a bad thing and they want it – despite repeated warnings of “no!” – they still go after it.
As you and I mature, surely we can at least come to terms with striving after good and side-stepping bad. Surely we can make better-informed decisions as we apply our increasingly limited energy each day. Why don’t we still go after it?
When we grow up, maybe we should go after God and healthy habits that make us better people. Maybe we should get our cute, pudgy grasp around these patterns and perspectives – and God – and never let go!
Let’s look at the word “fervently.” What does it mean? How does it function?
FUNCTION: Fervently is an adverb. That means it modifies – or is associated with – verbs, the action piece of things. So, right up-front, we can know that fervently will be paired with some kind of action.
DEFINITION: Fervently is defined as “with great intensity of spirit, feeling, enthusiasm” and so on. We already used the words passion and zeal earlier.
We can know that fervently is part of the action of getting in there with your whole self while engaging your every best intention. The circumstances don’t really matter so much. You can live fervently despite things outside your control. If you choose an Alive and Active Life in everything you do, and if you courageously overcome crippling fears, you can fall forward and fail fervently. This kind of “missing the mark” will give you valuable experience, insight, and skills. In fact, learning to fall and fail in a healthy way will help you become a person of integrity, maturity, and influence. These people are highly respected. They are often excellent leaders.
How To NOT Fall Or Fail
There are times it’s just as important to know what NOT to do as what you should do. There are elements of falling and failing that can and should be avoided at all costs. Those missteps occupy the territory of sin. It is “not innocent.” Deliberate, negligent, angry, not focused, quitting. This kind of falling and failing changes your heart and works against your ability to live an Alive and Active Life. These elements also block your fellowship with God.
Scripture assures God is patient with His children. He knows about healthy falling and failing. God wants you to succeed. But He also wants you to avoid unnecessary trouble and keep your heart from sin. When people decide to make sinful mistakes a deliberate practice, that tests God’s patience and twists it into a weird dysfunction. Deut. 6:16 says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
So, to avoid a devastating fall and side-step avoidable failure, be on your guard. God instructs you to guard your heart. Prov. 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” God will help you fall forward and fail fervently.
Confronting fear and exercising courage requires paying attention. In many places, Scripture says:
- Do not be deceived.
- Do not be afraid.
Jesus said we should be like little children. He was talking about their most endearing qualities with uncomplicated faith and simple obedience. Do you know how to fall, fail, and never give up – like the little guys? How to be humble, teachable, responsive, and unpretentious? How to avoid a misstep when warned? Becoming like little children is a principle necessary to live in the Kingdom of God. (Mt. 18:3)
God cares about you (even when you feel little). Cast your cares on Him. (1 Pet. 5:7) He loves you with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31:3) He has a plan to prosper you. (Jer. 29:11) You can grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord. (2 Pet. 3:18)
- Listen attentively to what God is placing in your heart. Is. 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” It’s up to you to obey.
- Be teachable in God’s training when you misstep. Learn how to fall forward and fail fervently. This requires being humble and resilient as well as paying attention.
- Spend time in His Word and in prayer. Be forward-thinking and fervent. (Rom. 12:11) God’s Word and sincere prayer is where the help is.
- Believe God is FOR you. 2 Chron. 16:9 says, “The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” God wants you to succeed more than you do.
Little guys know who loves them and who will help them fall forward and fail fervently. Your heavenly Father invites you into His love to learn how to fall forward and fail fervently. You are His little one. This is a safe place.
Stay close to your Father. Get to know Him more. He wants you to be yourself and succeed in your life.
Article developed from 2 Pet. 3: 15-18.
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