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I've felt like a failure recently. Well, at least a few weeks ago I was feeling like a failure. I had spent a year working on a proposal for a new book. My agent sent it out to dozens of editors. Lots of them responded well. I was sure a contract would follow. But in the end, it fell short. No contract.

I could tell myself all sorts of things to try to feel better about it, but at the end of the day, I just felt that I had failed. It was keeping me up at night. I spent hours calculating how to make someone take a risk on this book, how to make someone notice. I became rather obsessive about it all. One afternoon, I was taking a run, and I recalled a story from a sermon by Tim Keller. He tells the story of Rocky Balboa explaining why he fights. According to Keller (I've never seen the movie...), Rocky says, "I just wanted to prove I'm not a bum." (Keller tells this story often, so I can't cite the exact sermon, although I highly recommend checking them out. Here's the link to free sermons.) I was doing the same thing, trying to prove my own self-worth by having a book contract. Trying to prove my value through success.

I've done this again and again, and I know it doesn't work. My value comes from being a child of God. End of story. Nothing I can do to prove that. Nothing I need to do to prove that. Jesus has already done it for me. Maybe someday I'll really learn to believe it.

And then I happened upon a wonderful little article by Dennis Haack. (I commend it in its entirety: The Wonderful Freedom to Fail.) Haack writes, "Failure isn't always a bad thing... and since we have a God given yearning to achieve and participate in a level of perfection impossible for finite and fallen creatures it turns out to be the story of our lives... Our world esteems productivity, rewards decisiveness, and dislikes inefficiency... these modernist values merely decrease human flourishing by demanding conformity when diversity is what God called into being..."

So, today I am feeling content with my failures. Grateful, even. And hopeful for the future to come.

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