When Failure Isn't Final

Posted by Lauren Sparks on November 10, 2015 at 3:05 PM
I remember...failing.

I wanted to teach yoga.  I started teaching group fitness classes when my first born was 6 months old.  I began with aqua and quickly added hi-lo, which is traditional grapevine, hand claps, and side-step- type aerobics.  Step, kick-boxing, weightlifting, circuits, and indoor cycling followed.  I even dabbled in Zumba (sooooo not my thing).  I was the kind of gym rat who thought yoga wasn't real exercise.  Not enough movement.  Not enough sweating.  A back injury forced me to challenge my own beliefs about this ancient discipline.  I read studies about the benefits of yoga for lower back pain and attended my 1st class.  The poses were challenging and athletic...and I was hooked.

After practicing for several months, I studied and passed a certification course to teach my own yoga classes.  I decided yoga would be the key to my longevity in an industry that can be youth -obsessed and injury inducing.  The small gym I was working for at the time allowed me to begin teaching the format for practice before I was even fully certified.  But when that business shuttered, it was difficult to find and keep another class.  I taught for two other small gyms that went under (I don't think I was the common denominator), and the large chain gym that employed me to teach Body Pump and indoor cycling had no yoga classes to offer me.  

In the midst of waiting and hoping for a class, on of my students planted an idea by saying, "If you ever taught a class out of your house, I would come."  The idea did not initially appear to me, but looked much mroe attractive after 3 years of waiting.  The freedom to make it an outreach opportunity excited me as well.  I could end classes with devotional thoughts and prayers - something I couldn't do in a large commercial setting.  So I planned, and I researched, and I advertised among my neighbors and friends.  

The first couple of classes were fun and exciting.  But then my neighbor decided it was too hard.  And one friend went on an extended vacation.  One student kept having to schedule meetings during class time.  And so on, and so forth.  For one reason or another, there were fewer participants in class every week.  And then there were none.  I was so very disappointed to have to discontinue the lessons.  

I branded myself with an "F" for failure.  I don't know if any of you can relate, but if I let myself dwell on my past flops, it can seem like a recurring theme in my life.  There are the writing submission rejections, the diet plans that fizzled out, the invitations declined, the projects I've tried to rally support for, the ministries I've attempted to start, and the event I planned and then had to cancel.  At times, I feel like nother ever really goes my way.

When it comes to putting myself out on a limb, I'm a little bruised and timid.  It stinks to see your plans go down in flames.  It's exhausting to work hard and have no visible fruit to show for it.  So to fight off the discouragement that can easily overtake me, I have to remind myself that God never promises us wordly success.  In Isaiah chapter 6, God sends His prophet to testify to a people who He knows will not listen.  And when Moses approached the throne of Pharoah, God closed the ruler's ears to the requests.  I can't pretend to understand why God allows failure - or why He does anything for that matter, but I do know He has a plan.  A plan that will work for my good.  And THIS is what He promises, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  So, like Paul, "I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  Paul says he's content, for Christ's sake, with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  I can't pretend to be content, but I'll work on it.  "For when I am weak, then I am strong."  2 Corinthians 12:9-10