The other night over dinner, our family had a conversation about other things (riffing off my last post) people might consider giving themselves permission for.
I explained that these would be things people do or don’t do because of some unnecessary pressure. I asked them to think deeply about something they might suggest people give themselves permission for.
“Fart” and “poo in public” came out of the mouths of certain members of the family. They had a good long belly laugh about this while I waited, arms crossed.
“Family, please. We can do better than this.”
Secretly, I agreed that they should give themselves permission to do these things, but I certainly wasn’t going to.
Which is a good reminder that considering decorum is part of the task. It is important to give yourself permission with regard to how it might affect others. It should not be the exclusion of others’ peace and frame of mind.
If you are a person who is highly relational, giving yourself permission can be a difficult task. Women inherently struggle with this – which is why we do too much all the time.
Giving yourself permission should be necessarily thoughtful, but, ideally, it should give you a freedom that then promotes freedom in others.
Giving yourself permission is about delineating false guilt from real responsibility.
The fam finally came up with one serious submission: Give yourself permission to fail.
Thank you, family, for the fodder on the dinner table and for my blog. I’m proud of you again. Go back to the events of your day.
When we start a new journey or take the step of pursuing our vision of where we believe we should be, we never do this alone. We drag people into it with us. Start a new business, you need customers. Start a new ministry, you need volunteers. Become a missionary, you need supporters. It is your supporters, volunteers and customers that feel like a responsibility, what keeps you tied to your vision, even when the tide changes.
There is a time to let go. Often those people we’ve brought with us are the barometer of our success. Their joining us gives us wings; their leaving deflates us. They are most often the reason we won’t let ourselves fail (even when the barometer is speaking loudly that you’re already headed there.)
Reconsider that you are accountable to your followers, not responsible for them. There is a difference. As I see it, responsibility means your efforts are about controlling others; accountability means your efforts are about benefitting others.
Yes, it is important that you put your money where your mouth is. You must consider who you are leading and to where you are leading them. But when it isn’t working out – or it has worked out and now it’s not – there is a time to give yourself permission to stop and learn the lessons that have come from your attempts.
Our true responsibility is to listen well.
This is the beauty of faith in Christ. Believers don’t have to continually assess the risks and benefits when we follow him in simple obedience. Our striving is only to hear from the Holy Spirit. He carries the burden and ours is light. When his voice is loudest, the weight is lifted and our failures (every last one of them) are redeemed.
Our failures can actually clarify our vision; we see purpose beyond the success of our dreams. Our ultimate goal is his will realized, because he makes beautiful things out of dust.
The vision was never just for you; the lesson wasn’t either.
This might be time for a new vision, that says to others, “learn something incredibly valuable from my mistakes.”
I’ve known pure and utter failure. I have discovered that devastating defeat is almost always a disguise for good and necessary change . On the other end of it, having moved past failure in many forms, I no longer fear it, but embrace the lessons that come with it. Those lessons are: pray to the Father, reach out to Jesus, listen to the Spirit, walk humbly, and take others with you, through the failures too.
Others may perceive the Spirit’s whisperings in your ear, the result of his guidance, to be failures, but know that he is taking you on a path of rich experience and joy that will bring you to a place of deep gratitude and worship.
Give yourself permission to fail. And some time after that, give yourself permission to celebrate your failures.