In light of the “Failure is Feedback?” post from a couple days ago, I felt a kind of sequel was in order. I’m leery of all things “sequel” in most cases, since they rarely have anything on the original, but—whatever. It’s Saturday night, and I’m throwing caution to the wind! (Yeah, my life is so exciting that I have to build drama around a blog post.) *Blink. Blink.* Ummm. Never mind.
Anyway, the point of this post is something I want to remember in the future. I want the fragrance to float by now and periodically in the future. It’s pretty sweet smelling stuff.
Remember when I said I wanted the failure to be feedback in a more positive sense? Well, I think this recent incident does a lot to help me in that area, if I can remember it in the future. The general gist of the situation went a little like this:
A friend asked me to partner in a large project. From the very beginning I was rather timid about pieces of the weighty responsibility and doubted my skill set. Truthfully, this project has never depended on me or my skills. If it did, the whole thing would be a complete mess on my end. Anything that has ever been good in my contributions can absolutely be traced to or clearly attributed to God’s intervention. You’ve got to trust me on that!
So imagine me working on the final piece of my portion of the project, a little weary and very intimidated by the final push. It was going decently well, but I had a nagging feeling that what I was working on just wasn’t quite right. I wasn’t happy with the work, and I really didn’t have another direction yet to go. Usually, there is a clear, precise idea in my mind, and I’m just trying to get it to the page. I had no clear idea, I didn’t love the foggy one I was working, and nothing made it any more clear or lovely. I scrapped the first, messy concept and tried something altogether new and totally risky! I was sure it was more “me” than anything else, and I wasn’t sure I had the skill to pull it off.
Turns out, I didn’t.
The feedback was polite and gentle and very, very tentative. I hadn’t sold the idea, and truthfully, I didn’t like the rendering of it myself. How could my partner like it? Yep, failure in this case was feedback. And it was tough.
The friend who can generally speak truth in moments of my distress and chaos did two very distinct things. First, I got the best listening ear possible. Then I got truth. Partnership is cooperation, and it means sacrifice. Translation: this isn’t all about Jen. Who knew? The feedback wasn’t rejection of me as a person. My work is never who I am; it’s separate. (I have to fight for that one.)
Do you know what “course correction” is? In my world, it’s a second chance. There is nothing more precious to me than this second chance. It was hard to sit in front of a blank page again, questioning all the excitement and certainty I had just days before, and take a second run at it. It was tough to take the failed attempt’s feedback and submit to it. But, it was ultimately for the best in so many ways. I lacked confidence in me, my skills, and my understanding of the project’s direction. Not a bad place to be. Not at all!
I had to lean into it again. Slowly, carefully, with my ear straining to hear and my heart ready to respond, I had to follow the still, small voice on this one. My confidence was bruised, but I exchanged trust in me for trust in the One who knew everything about the direction of the project. Humility goes a long way, baby!
I made another attempt. This time, it was clearly out of my hands and beyond my abilities. There was no question the effort yielded something far more precise than the foggy, cluttered rendering, and light years beyond the skills in the first “new concept” that belly flopped hard. When I look at it, even I don’t have words for the result. It reassures me that there is no way I could have made it so, really.
It’s grace. Big grace. When I receive a gift like this, all I can see is the redemption of a moment by a very big, loving God. And he’s using li’l old me. Crazy!
I’ll share something that my “truth-talking friend” said that deeply affected me in the most beautiful way. In connection with the project’s subject (Bathsheba), my friend said:
I wish she could see what we now know.
Why is that little piece of obscure truth my seed to tend for the day? Simply, if I could see what would transpire, how a second chance would be so dramatically different and infused with a whole different power, wouldn’t that make a world of difference? (Insert a clever comment about faith and “things not seen” here.)
Rejection? No, it wasn’t, really. That hard conversation led to a course correction, a second chance to do the work with God by his Spirit.
I am that precious to my Abba that he would do that for my benefit!
How many times do we believe failure’s feedback is rejection when it’s really a second chance? Have you learned this life lesson, too?
I hope you have a great rest of your weekend. Thanks for popping in.