“Ma’am, pull this black sock over your head and grab a red helmet.”
With the noise of speeding go-karts in the background, I grabbed a red helmet and smiled like I wasn’t about to freak out. My oldest invited me to join him and a group of military officer friends at an indoor go-kart track while I was visiting over Christmas break. I pushed the helmet down over the protective head sock while whispering a prayer for my crushed hair. Then, I breathed another prayer: God, I don’t know what I’m doing. Please help me not embarrass myself. Amen.
Once the helmet’s thick padding dampened the noise around me, my sight sharpened. I glanced around. An uncomfortable warm ooze of self-awareness spread throughout my body. I felt very out of place. I was the only middle-aged woman attempting to drive a go-kart that afternoon.
My inner self took this realization as an opportunity to amp up the random anxious thoughts:
Try not to drive like an old carpool mom…
You know they are all going to pass you…
Maybe today wasn’t the best day to wear boots with heels…
When it was time to fold myself into the tiny go-kart, all my self-doubts crowded in with me. I thought about climbing back out and standing on the sidelines. My helmet only amplified my choir of doubts. But I forced myself to stay in my seat. With tears in my eyes, I made the decision to believe that I could do this, even if I didn’t do it well.
As soon as the go-flag came down, I jammed my foot on the gas. That little go-kart shot off and I held on. The first curve appeared before I was ready for it, but I drove into the bend, narrowly missing the wall in front of me. I broke out in a thin sheen of sweat and took my foot off the gas for a second. I wanted to give up, but quitting wasn’t an option. I took a deep breath and pressed the gas again. Every curve was a learning curve. Throughout the twelve laps, I figured out what to do and not to do. Other go-karts passed me with more speed and more skill, but I kept driving, learning, and gaining confidence as I went along.
The final results… I came in last place. Not just barely last place, but most solidly and firmly in last place. But I did it. I was last, but I won the battle to believe that I could do it. I won the even bigger battle of not beating myself up for failing to do it well.
Too often, it’s our fear of failure or embarrassment that keeps us from stepping out in courage or faith. What would you like to do that you’ve never done before? What’s been stopping you from saying “yes,” whether it’s to something big or small? Perhaps you’re like me and you’re starting to wonder if you’re too old, if you don’t fit in, or if it’s too late. These are a part of that chorus of self-doubt that wants you to believe that it’s best not to put yourself out there.
Here’s what I want you to know today: I believe that God has a great adventure of faith and purpose for your life. That adventure never needs to be perfect. Stepping out in faith doesn’t require perfection. Stepping out in faith IS success. Period. Part of the adventure is that God gives you the grace of each day to keep figuring things out!
I appreciate the words of an ancient prophet, Jeremiah, who witnessed both epic failures and flashes of faith from God’s people. They’d failed to trust God and were struggling in captivity. But, their failures didn’t stop God’s faithfulness to them. Known as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah empathizes with their distress and offers the following reminder of hope to meet them in their hopelessness:
“Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
Lamentations 3:23 NLT
Every day, God gives you a chance to try again. God’s faithfulness isn’t stymied by your fears, flaws, or failures. You can stand up and fall down a thousand times and God is the first voice whispering, “Trust Me. Try again. You can do this.” The brilliance of God is that He can, even when we cannot. His mercy meets you and me at the dawn of each day. Failure is never fatal with God. No matter how many times you’ve doubted yourself or failed, God offers a divine do-over. He promises that as you let His Spirit guide your life, freedom and victory are waiting for you.
If you weren’t afraid to take a risk and you knew that God had called you to it, what would you do? Tell us about it in the comments and we can pray for you!
Life can be so painfully heavy. But you don’t have to carry it all on your own. Really. There is a God who is ready and willing to carry you! Your part is to simply unclench your firsts, stop grasping for control, and instead surrender all to God. We know this is easier said than done, so let your friends at (in)courage show you how.
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