“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
—2 Corinthians 12:9
This particular verse speaks more clearly to me now than it did in the past. What I believed on the surface I really understood after some time in recovery. More than understood, but actually believed to be true in the very core of my spirit and being. "...my power is made perfect in weakness." For me, this is all about surrender. Surrendering to God my mistakes, my failures, my addiction, and my own ego, has allowed His grace to transform my life.
We’ve all experienced failure—the question is, what will we do with these experiences? Will we let them discourage us and tear us down? Or will we accept God’s grace and allow him to demonstrate his power through us? I believe that if we open ourselves to God’s “power made perfect in weakness,” we can learn important lessons that nothing short of failure can teach us.
What if you never made a mistake? Never got impatient when your children fought, never got angry with your boss, never forgot to send a card to your mom on her birthday? It’d be easy to believe you could depend completely on yourself—that you needed no one else! However, since we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), we know deep down that we need God with us, constantly forgiving us and guiding us, pushing us to grow and to learn to be more like him. Our failures show us how utterly incapable we are of doing these things on our own!
Sometimes our mistakes seem so appalling that the people we have wronged may not forgive us—even people who’ve known us and loved us our whole lives! But God always forgives. It doesn’t matter how many times we fail, or how shameful we believe our failing to be. As Paul said in Romans 8:39, “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When you look back at your life, you’ll notice that your moments of failure teach you more about who you are as a person than your moments of success. Every time we fail to miss the mark is an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to allow God to change us from the inside out. While my struggle with addiction was dark and difficult, God’s grace has allowed me to give hope to others as I share my experience, strength, and hope. God uses our messes and transforms them into opportunities. In the words of Leonard Cohen, "Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack, a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."
I’m convinced that our failures are what teach us best how to love others. If you’d never gone through a divorce yourself, how could you love and empathize with your family member whose marriage is falling apart? If you’d never struggled to parent a defiant child, gotten that demotion at work, or spent that embarrassing night in jail as a teenager, how would you truly show your struggling friends that you understand their troubles? Our failures—experiencing them and their consequences, and ultimately getting through them and accepting God’s love and forgiveness—are what make us better friends, parents, siblings, sons, daughters, etc.
So I encourage you all to take heart when you fall! Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and allow God to love you and teach you how to grow. For his grace is indeed sufficient.