The three “F’s” that dictate most of our lives: “Am I a failure?”
“How am I supposed to have faith when everything keeps going wrong?”
“What am I going to do with my future?”
Questions like these are ones we ask ourselves too often. We walk around telling ourselves that we have failed the moment something goes wrong, or in other words, not as planned. But what does “not as planned” even mean? Who are we to plan what’s going to happen, as if we know exactly what series of events are going to unfold in our lives.
What DOES the future hold? Often we look back at the past and think, “Five years ago, I didn’t think I would be where I am now,” and the truth is, most of the time we got to that place by going through things that we DIDN’T expect to go through. Yet, we keep planning out exactly how everything is “supposed” to go in order for us to reach our goals and get from point “A” to point “B,” suppressing our own belief in the fact that God is the best of planners, and we are merely on a journey that He is taking us on.
We do this because it’s human nature, and because it’s how society taught us to be. We go to high school to get into college, we go to college to get into grad school, or med school, or to get a job. Since the moment we were born, we’ve had to make sure we’re always one step ahead of the game. But in the long run, we have been hindering ourselves from an amount of happiness which comes from the ability to have faith in everything happening for a reason, and the faith that the future is going to unfold exactly how it was meant to, no matter what we try to force it to do.
You Are Not Your Failures
Failure is only real if you let it be. Sure, that’s the cheesiest statement ever, but it’s true. Failure is a construct. This is something we humans have given a name because we feel this perpetual need to categorize and label everything. Just like the words “pretty,” “smart,” “ugly,” and “dumb,” “failure” only has meaning if you let it. This feeling labeled “failure” only leads to regret, which never does an ounce of good for anyone.
If you “fail” at something, first and foremost, you aren’t a failure. Something that you were attempting to do didn’t pan out the way you or someone else intended it to. You had your hopes set on it, and you let yourself down because perhaps you planned too far ahead into the future. Secondly, if you did fail, why do you have to become the failure? Failure, at the most, is a thing that happens TO you, or because of something you did that didn’t pan out, not something that determines your value or identity as a person.
But there is a line that passes through all of us that divides the good and the bad, and we all encompass a little bit of both no matter how many good deeds we do, or how many “failures” we succumb to.
The same thing goes for the opposite side of the spectrum. When you do a good deed, you don’t become the good deed, and you don’t become a fully good person. You become a person who did a good deed. But there is a line that passes through all of us that divides the good and the bad, and we all encompass a little bit of both no matter how many good deeds we do, or how many “failures” we succumb to.
Recently, a wise woman told me that “it’s much better to be responsive rather than reactive.” At first I didn’t quite understand, but now I see what she means. You must not be reactive to things, because if you’re reactive, you’re giving your subconscious, devilish thoughts what they need to fuel the fire. It is much better to take things in, consider them, and formulate how you’re going to respond, and also learn/grow from it.
You Gotta Have Faith, Faith, Faith
Faith. Nine times out of ten, the feeling of absolute failure leads to lack of faith—in God, in life, and in ourselves and our abilities. For naturally pessimistic, harsh, self-critics like me, this can be an extremely hard practice to eliminate from our lives. It’s a bad habit that takes over our psyches, convincing us that things will only continue to go downhill, and that God can’t possibly be real or be listening to us, because He didn’t give us what we wanted right away.
We must try our best not to let these thoughts get to us. Sometimes, we’d much rather believe in the sinister workings of the world than entertain the idea that something out there is trying to teach us a lesson, or mold us into a person better fit for whatever the future holds for us. And this, ladies and gentlemen, brings me to my final point.
Back to The Future
The future. What in the world is it? And why, as a human race, do we collectively live in the past while simultaneously planning for the future? We are so caught up in the two that we don’t even realize we’re completely missing out on the present until it’s too late.
And the funny thing is, the future doesn’t matter much if the present isn’t lived to the fullest. The future is nothing more than a book comprised of many pages of “presents”. Each day lived was, at one point, the future we were looking forward to, and each one of those days most likely unfolded before us in a way that we didn’t see coming.
Yes, some plans are necessary in order to make strides through life, gain opportunities, and move forward in general, but it’s imperative we remember that surrendering some of the plans we make is often the best option for peace of mind.
It’s a vicious cycle really; we let ourselves believe in the radical notion that the future is this great, amazing, big thing that needs our constant attention. So naturally, as naïve humans, we give it that attention. We plan, plan, plan for special occasions, for mundane days, and for everything in between. Some of these days may work out, but most of them won’t. This affects us immensely, in turn making us feel like we failed ourselves, or someone else, therefore causing us to lose faith in the workings of the universe. If we don’t halt this cycle, it could last a lifetime.
Sure, it’s easier said than done. Most things are. It’s hard to believe in yourself, put blind faith into something, and live in the moment. We’ve become obsessed with perfection, always on the hunt for ways to mold our “perfect lives” and “perfect selves”.
Yes, some plans are necessary in order to make strides through life, gain opportunities, and move forward in general, but it’s imperative we remember that surrendering some of the plans we make is often the best option for peace of mind. And it’s not until we remind ourselves that God wants what is best for us that we realize the trials we’re put through come at a cost, but also have a high payout. The key is trust. Trust in ourselves, that even when we mess something up we will have the strength to pick ourselves up again and keep going. Trust in God that He has our back. Trust in the future, that no matter what we do and what God has in store for us, all ends will come together at some point and paint a bigger picture that is only visible when looking back at all past presents.