Youth in Mission: Experiencing the freedom to fail

SNU's student newspaper: The Echo -- Everybody likes to have freedom. In the U.S., people enjoy the freedom of speech, the freedom to live where they want, to eat what they want, to do what they want, to believe what they want. Many Christians believe that they are free in Christ or have at least told me that Christians are free in Christ, but honestly, I, a Christian, have no idea what it means to be free in Christ and have never really felt free.

I've constantly been under pressure to be a "good, little Christian," in my family and church and have even put pressure on myself. If I'm not a "perfect Christian," then I will be judged and my witness to others will be ruined for life. No one will think I'm worth anything or believe me when I tell them about Christ and his love for them because they saw me do this or they heard me say something that I shouldn't have.

Whether people have said these things to me or not, I put these things into my head, I am probably harder on myself than anyone could ever be. I have been a perfectionist all my life and for the most part have not allowed myself, or put myself in a situation to fail.

This summer I was a part of something called Youth In Mission and I lived in Moscow, Russia for two months. I went into this mission thinking that I was going to do something great for the Nazarene church and ultimately for God.

But looking back on the trip, it doesn't seem like I did anything but fail and I did this in front of my new friends. My three teammates and I felt like we had done nothing for the church but scrape paint from window frames, play with kids, and stroll around Moscow all day.

Of course, it was a nice vacation, but that's not what we were there for. We were there to work hard and accomplish things for God, not ourselves. But maybe that's what God had planned. Maybe God was giving us the opportunity, or the freedom to fail.

What's more important though, is that God didn't stop loving us or love us any less because we didn't accomplish what WE wanted. It almost seems weird to say this, but I'm a new person because I allowed myself to accept the failures in my life.

"It is only when we give ourselves permission to fail, that we give ourselves permission to excel." says Wormholdt.

If anything, failure makes me a more realistic person, not a saint's carbon copy that I wanted everyone to see! I'm more real with myself, more honest with others, and though my relationship with God is not a perfect one, it's a real!

I'm not trying to be someone else anymore. I'm not a "perfect Christian", but then again, who said God wanted us to be perfect? Perfection is not always a good thing.

In H. Wesley Balk's book, "The Radiant Performer," he describes perfectionists as this:

"Perfectionists carry a heavy burden. They are convinced not only that nothing they do is ever good enough, but worse, that they are not good enough. Further, they know that they never do as much as they should, but that they could be perfect if they could only figure out how. They must always know all the answers, always do everything right, always be correct, never make mistakes and since none of this is possible, they must continually beat up on themselves for their inadequacy."

Being a perfectionist inhibits our minds from doing things God's way. We are too selfishly consumed with doing it the way we know best and do not allow God to have His hand in things.

Coming to grips with the fact that I am not perfect was the greatest thing that I could have ever admitted to myself and others. It made me more aware of the greatness and unlimited supply of God's love and grace for me. He accepts me no matter how many times I fail and no matter what I fail at. Maybe this is part of what being free in Christ means!

This summer definitely had its good times and hard times, and I am still trying to figure out everything that God really taught me from this experience. So far, I've learned that if I open my heart up for God to teach me something, He will, but it's not always what I expect and sometimes I have to take a deeper look.