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By Nicole Kerr

I have a laminated cutout of a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip that has hung at my work desk at the last couple of jobs I have held. There are four frames. In the first frame Calvin is walking along minding his own business. In the second one, he trips. In the third frame he somersaults and lands on his rear end. The final frame shows him once again standing on his feet, arms lifted in triumph as he says proudly, “TA-DAAA!”

I keep this cartoon as a reminder that I will trip and fall, probably often, but it is how I respond after I fail that shows my character.

I grew up as a perfectionist. We could dive into my psyche and come up with twenty or more reasons why, but I can safely say that many of us have found ourselves striving for perfection at one time or another. I don’t believe my parents put undue pressure on me, but I never wanted to let anyone down and being perfect seemed to be the best way to accomplish that goal. The result was that I would get stuck in frame three of my comic strip.

Each misstep, each critique of my behavior, each “B” on the report card would send waves of self-doubt and shame through my being. The shame of my failures caused me to stay down on my rear end longer than it should have. It kept me from growing into the person I know God wanted me to be. Even into my adult years I would let fear of failure and negative self-talk paralyze me from moving forward and growing. This is a problem I think we all share: we let our failures define us instead of refine us.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT), Paul speaks directly to the heart of the issue:

[The Lord] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Thankfully I have started to grow out of my perfectionism. Many wise people have taught me the difference between striving for excellence (which God has called us to) and striving for perfection (which is impossible). I still fail and fall regularly, but I spend less time on the ground and more time learning and growing from the experience.

The “ta-daaa!” moment isn’t about you; it is about what God is doing through your weakness. His grace is all we need. His power works best in our getting back up from a fall. Once I learned to accept God’s grace when I fail, I have seen how He has been glorified through my “failures.”

I have also learned that GOD can speak to us through an ornery kid with a stuffed pet tiger.

Nicole-Kerr-authorboxNicole Kerr serves as the Executive Assistant to President Randall A. Bach. She loves working alongside her husband, Aaron, with the youth at Journey Church of the Open Bible, in Urbandale, Iowa, and living the crazy adventure called life.

About The Author

Nicole Kerr

Nicole Kerr received her marketing degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and currently serves as the Executive Assistant to Open Bible President Randall A. Bach. Her family’s mission is to minister to future generations and help them become leaders and people of influence. She and her husband, Aaron, are currently pursuing this mission by working with the youth at Journey Church of the Open Bible in Urbandale, Iowa. Nicole enjoys writing about what GOD is speaking to her as she is being stretched and grown in each season of life.