“No such thing as failure—only setbacks”

2020 has been a year to remember. For many, it’s been a year that had meant job loss, isolation, illness, financial struggle; it has meant shifting gears, completely changing plans and, in some cases, moving on from something that you thought was part of your life purpose.

The tweets and memes swirling the internet show a resounding excitement to see the end of this year, but the beginning of 2021 is looking like a lot more of the same without any certainty of an end in sight.

When I was a kid my dad would always tell me, “there’s no such thing as failure—only setbacks.” This is a quote I have lived my life by, and then adapted to encourage my own children.

Before this year started, I never imagined that as I rang in 2021 that I would be a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom. But here I am. And this has been a new and terrifying challenge this year, filled with a lot of ups and downs and uncertainties.

But as I focus inward and give myself the chance to write again and learn more about the inspirational little people in my life that I am blessed to nurture, I have learned that—like many of us—children doubt themselves A LOT and there are voices in their heads that are self sabotaging.

Yesterday was Daniel’s regular hospital infusion day. Daniel has had thousands of needles and procedures (and I mean thousands). He had injections every single day for five years, not including rounds of bloodwork and IVs; now he has injections every two weeks, plus rounds of blood work and IVs. Yet, despite how familiar he is with it—and how for a child his age he is amazing at it—he still has very difficult days!

Yesterday was one of those days. We had all of his tips and distractions, yet he just couldn’t stop himself from pulling his arm away or struggling.

Then the self-sabotage sets in. “Mom! Why can’t I do it?”
“Why am I afraid?”
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Why am I failing?”

The nurses give him a minute to talk with me, and my response to him was this:

Baby, you aren’t failing. You can do this. Just breathe—refocus and keep trying. We all have bad days, and sometimes even things that feel like second nature to us aren’t easy. It’s ok to have bad days, bad weeks—even bad years—but you are not a failure. It’s just a small setback.

We all have days or moments in our lives where things feel like everything is goiung wrong, where we can’t seem to get back up and where the world as we knew it seems to have crumbled around us. But the reality is, if we keep going and keep breathing and keep trying, we have not failed.

Last night when Daniel was going to bed, he said, “Mom, I need advice. What is one way I can make my art better?” Chuckling that he asked me for art advice (because I am probably the least artistically inclined person ever!) I instinctively said, “you need to make more mistakes.”

He looked at me strangely and then thought for a minute, “…So the way I picture my art in my head—if I don’t draw it perfectly and if I make a mistake and it changes how it looks, someone else might see something beautiful?”

“Right,” I said, “and when we make mistakes, we have the opportunity to erase and start over, and it gives us the chance to learn and grow.”

Those moments when I struggle and I feel like I have failed, I get a chance to turn it into an opportunity. It is our chance to perfect our craft—or try something new—because we can’t shy away from our heart work when it gets messy. It might look different or might not be what we pictured in our heads, but we can learn and grow. We can allow it to instead motivate us to do—and be—better then ever before.

Whatever your heart work is, don’t ever give up.

We all make mistakes. We all have bad days. Don’t let it break you—because there’s no such thing as failure, only setbacks.

Bring on 2021. I don’t know about you. but whatever it brings, I am ready.

One reply on ““No such thing as failure—only setbacks””

Wow! This packed full of courage and encouragement! We cannot go backwards or have do overs, but who would want to? Going forward knowing that mistakes will happen and must occur to make our possibilities limitless is a superb way to embrace 2021. When I need a hug during isolation, I just have to lift up my arms and listen carefully to God in his abundant wisdom and love where scripture gives me a morsel at a time to pull into myself and examine and cherish. I know I need those verses in the Bible where God does hug me whole again. Thank you for your inspiring Blog Chriskinchlea.ca

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