If I were to consider “failure” in my life, I think I would be tempted to think most quickly about my horse “misadventures.” Having dreamed of having horses all my life, at the ripe-old-age of 40, my family and I moved to the country and bought FOUR at once. The dream was that we would hit the trails together! Simple dream–or so we thought. We had been given the resources to acquire them (we have since found out that the cheapest thing about horses is the initial purchase…the rest is…well, that is fodder for another post…), so it certainly seemed like a simple thing. Four people, four horses and we would have years as a family in the Great Wide Open enjoying one another, nature and our trusty steeds.

We happened to get four horses with “special needs.” We did everything wrong that could be done wrong in buying our four. One was a young, green 4 year old with 35 year old joints. One was a rip-snorting-fire breathing behemoth when out on the trail. One was formerly abused with rearing and bolting being his first line of defense if he thought he would be eaten…which was all the time. And one was Breezy. Well, Breezy was the first we acquired and had they all been like him, we would have been fine. Nevertheless, even Breezy was possibly older than featured.

So never, never, never have we had more than two of them on the trail at once.

It would be very easy to allow this failure to define me. We get jokes all the time about “Don’t you ride them?” Well…yes…but I am the only one who can ride all of them…and I don’t go for “Roman Riding” so they aren’t all ridden at once. Breezy can be ridden by any member in our family so…well…I can go out with one other member of my family at a time. (Below is a photo of what I mean by “Roman Riding.”)

After all this time, you would think we would have progressed some. Others say “Why don’t you get rid of them and get horses that work for your family?”

The thing is, I believe God has been redeeming this situation. I see it so clearly with the horse thing. I wonder why I don’t see it with other things?

God has used my horses to teach me about shaking loose from my past and not allowing it to define me. He has shown me about rewarding the try when my son was a pre-adolescent with hormones beginning to rage. He has shown me lessons about loyalty and even taught me things through the fungus in my horses’ feet! God has taught me about how mechanical I can be in my relationship with him when he wants my *heart* just like I want the heart of my horses–not just their feet to go a certain direction.

I can go out to their pasture (they live here) and sit with them, smell them, talk with them, brush them…all kinds of joy is there…joy that I dreamed of all my life. And, of course, riding them is amazing. I have seen places that I wouldn’t have been likely to see. And while my dream of having our family do these things together hasn’t yet been realized, I still don’t feel prone to call myself a “failure” because of this (although, I do have days when I am closer to it than others). God has obviously taken all these things and used them for a greater good to form and shape my character and I think the character of my family members, too. Yes, I still hope that one day my kids, hubby and I will experience fun together astride our own four horses (though it isn’t likely it will be THESE four horses), but I am not sure I would trade what we have experienced in our “failure” for a superficial “success” riding on the trails together each weekend.

Something deeper has been at work. Something eternal.

2 Corinthians 4: 17-18, which I have probably quoted recently says:

For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal.

In our “failures,” God is at work doing that which we may not even really even begin to fathom. He has shown me this with my horses. (And in other ways, too…)

So does it make sense to take on the identity of “Failure” when I struggle along with things? When I start my day with great intentions, commit to 0 to 5 eating, and by the end of the day discover I have “botched” it up…even so, I am not a failure! I am a saint, called by God, who sometimes fails. There is a HUGE difference as chapter 10 in Thin Within so clearly says.

If we see our “failures” through God’s lens, we are much less likely to excuse our behavior or beat ourselves up over them. Through His eyes, perceived failures become opportunities. He sees our need and, in His grace, responds by coming alongside us to meet that need. Thin Within, page 95

Today, if you catch yourself in the midst of a “failure,” rather than allow it to define you, ask God how HE sees you. He has declared you perfectly acceptable in Christ. If you belong to Him, he has attributed all of Christ’s righteousness to you. He sees you as holy and beloved. Eating too much ice cream or hopping on the scale obsessively doesn’t change that at all.

Our performance is never the basis of His love for us. Thin Within, page 99

Do you believe that he accepts you 100% just as you are right now? Surely, if what Romans 5:8 says–that even while we were yet sinners–God chose to demonstrate his love for us by having Jesus die for us, we can KNOW that right now, even mid-way through the bag of Oreo cookies, he loves us as well. We can capture THIS moment for the Lord. Stop what we are doing. And rest in his embrace right now. EVEN now. He stands with his arms open wide, not condemning us in our current behavior, but calling us to reach out to him to fill our hearts full with his presence. He doesn’t define us by our performance. Christ’s performance on the cross is how God defines us now. Attributing even Christ’s righteousness to us. Let’s BELIEVE GOD!