“There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” ― Will Rogers
(In case you were wondering, I’m the kind of woman who needs to pee on the electric fence to learn a proper lesson. Stubborn is my middle name.)
If you were to ask me about what I’ve learned so far while living in South Africa, I would tell you these two very important things:
Fail? Yep. I said it. Fail. I am what some professionals like to call “an experiential learner.” I like to learn by “trial and error.” I take a step, I fail, I learn, I change, and then I try to do it better the next time. The concept seems simple enough, but, in the moment of realization, it can be pretty heart wrenching. Messing up isn’t fun. It hurts. It takes humility to admit a wrong, and it can leave scars and memories that seem to only fade with time. Not to mention, our culture has an awful way of reinforcing the broken idea that we must constantly strive for perfection, and if we fail to reach it, we should just crawl into a hole and let someone else give it a shot. It’s why we hide our weaknesses, it’s why we are ashamed of our flaws, and it’s why some of the most successful businessmen in the world are the greatest liars.
But hey, there’s good news. Jesus gave me the freedom to fail. In fact, I have the freedom to screw up BIG TIME over and over and over again. My identity isn’t in my volunteer work, it isn’t in my soccer playing abilities, or in the number of bible verses I have memorized. My worth and my value don’t come from my accomplishments. God could take all of those things away from me, and I would still be deemed precious in His sight. His love doesn’t change when I fail. His love isn’t conditional or dependent on me. His love and approval do not come with a disclaimer.
So when I go through a trial, how do I respond? Do I sulk and give up? Or do I learn and grow? Do I beat myself up? Or do I choose to move forward and try again?
Quick example. Today, I had to pull the plug on my high school futsal team. I love those girls (and I also hate feeling like a quitter), so it wasn’t an easy task for me. I had to humble myself enough to admit that the program wasn’t going in the direction that training4changeS needed it to go. I had to swallow my pride and admit that it simply wasn’t working…. but that’s okay.
Now, I move forward. I learn from this experience, and I choose to become a better coach. I adjust my strategy, I adapt to my environment, and I appreciate the trials and the challenges that I have walked through over these past few months. As a training4changeS team, we went back to the drawing board and we decided to target a new age group. We are hoping to develop a girl’s futsal program within the local primary schools instead of the high schools. We’ve realized that the world is changing fast. To make a lasting impact, we need to start teaching, loving, and coaching younger aged kids. By the time these girls enter into high school, their habits and lifestyles are so deeply engrained into their minds and hearts that change just doesn’t stick. The chance for long term impact decreases more and more with each birthday.
So, I am venturing down a new road that will lead me into uncharted territory. I am going to start traveling down this “one of a kind” path that God has so graciously paved for me. This path could very well be full of sharp turns, steep hills, and some potential thunderstorms, but I am willing and ready to face the elements. I am willing and ready to have my roadmap torn to shreds, my travel plans tossed out the window, and my destination expectations rerouted.
I know that I’d much rather trek up a dangerous and scary mountain trail with my Creator, than sit in the comfort of a palm tree without Him.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)