J.S. Park


Posts tagged with "failure"

Aug 1

My fears are getting the better of me lately, no actually, my whole life. I am socially awkward, shady, shy, and spiritually weak. & I'm scared of being judged and rejected. Because of the way I am, i lost and hurt so many people in my life that cared about me. I recently went to church camp and the pastor was talking about fear and how it can overcome and break you &learned that Trusting in God is the answer. But how do i strengthen my trust for God? How do I find the courage to fight my fears?

Hey my dear friend: May I first please say, without going into advice-mode, that you are absolutely loved by me, by our fellow bloggers, and our God Himself.  Even with a tiny thread of belief, whisper this to your heart, no matter how small it seems. 

Please allow me to point you to a few posts here.  As always, feel free to skip around or skip them all.

- I Am Just Struggling Like Crazy

- Struggling With Loneliness: How Is God Enough?

- The Desperate Difficulty of Knowing God’s Love

- Fighting Off That Stress

- The Fear of Man, Image, and Reputation

- I Am Anxiously Anxious About Being Anxious

- I’ve Totally Screwed Up and I Can’t Pick Up The Pieces

- Why Did God Make Emotions? A Mega-Post


I know there are no magic words to make this all better, but the best thing I can encourage you to do is find a mentor, a pastor, or a mature believer to talk all these things out.  Maybe you’ve tried this already, but please try more than once and keep trying.  It really helps to articulate your worst fears out loud, because we cannot carry all these burdens alone.  God often aims for us to find Him by finding His love in others, and if you’ve never heard that before, 1 John 4:12 says, No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  You will find a safe place where you can tell your story and then decide to change directions by His grace — and that starts with out-loud eye-to-eye conversation.

May I also leave you with an awesome quote by one of my favorites, Brennan Manning.

For those who feel their lives are a grave disappointment to God, it requires enormous trust and reckless, raging confidence to accept that the love of Christ knows no shadow or alteration or change. When Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened,’ He assumed we would grow weary, discouraged, and disheartened along the way. These words are a touching testimony to the genuine humanness of Jesus. He had no romantic notion of the cost of discipleship. He knew that following Him was as unsentimental as duty, as demanding as love. He knew that physical pain, the loss of loved ones, failure, loneliness, rejection, abandonment, betrayal would sap our spirits; that the day would come when faith would no longer offer any drive, reassurance, or comfort; that prayer would lack any sense of reality or progress …

What the disciple has not learned is that tangible reassurances, however valuable they may be, cannot create trust, sustain it, or guarantee any certainty of its presence. Jesus calls us to hand over our autonomous self in unshaken confidence. When the craving for reassurances is stifled, trust happens.

— J.S.

Oct 7

Overcoming The Constant Fear of Failure


buscaguayaba asked:

Evening, Joon. I’ve really been walking this submissive path in my life and its this constant fear of failure. It seems that there are things that no matter how much I try, I keep failing and it seems to become an infectious disease to my self-esteem. I ask God for help but I feel like I’m asking a strange request that I dont even know where its coming from. Its been a silent cry for years as a young boy and I’m over it. I’m so tired of failing so often and I want God to help me end it.


Hey brother Joe, appreciate your honesty.

You know: the fear of failure has been one of the most debilitating fears of my life.

I am constantly, constantly afraid to try new things, because I only like to do things I know I’m good at.  If success is not a possibility, I make up some lame reason why I don’t want to try.

I could probably tell you all kinds of wisdom like, “Go for it anyway” or “God is with you” or “If at first you don’t succeed …” — and while these are true, I know how scary it is.  When you fail once, it crushes your soul to powder, and it makes every next attempt that much harder.

The only way I’ve learned how to personally deal with this is to stare defeat in the face and wrestle it to the very end.  This is different than just telling yourself “I’m a winner” or “I’m loved.”  This takes a little extra work, and it’s worth it.

For me, when I totally fail a sermon, later that night I’ll take out my notepad and write all the places I went wrong.  I’ll write all the missed opportunities, the awkward statements, why this or that didn’t work, how I failed to tie it together and land the ending.  It’s just brutal, and it feels like I’m punishing myself.

But you know what?  After I’m done, I feel a million pounds lighter.  And suddenly I have a clear picture of what I want to do next time.  I gain a little hope amidst the defeat, and I realize that I can do better.  And even if I still feel terrible, at least I am now moving in a direction. 


You’ll have your own process for this, whether it’s writing it down or going on a walk or drawing a diagram or talking out loud.  But however it happens, it’s best to NOT skip this process.

Unfortunately what most people do is: they call everyone they know and look for validation in their failures, they text a million people fishing for a nice response, they blame their environment or other people or their “health” or their busy schedule, they avoid or deny or whine or wallow — but there’s no direction to any of this.  They haven’t even confronted what went wrong.  They’re using friends as a sounding board instead of examining themselves first.  They don’t bring that stuff to God for healing. 

We tend to beat ourselves up over some amorphous concept of low self-worth, so then we’re defeated over being defeated.

Many of us also think all pain is always bad, but even if that were true: we still need to ride through the middle of it instead of avoiding it altogether.  What I mean is: if we’re going to be hurt by life, I’d rather learn from it than not learn from it.  Surprisingly, most people choose not to learn from it, which is like gaining XP in an RPG and then deliberately not saving your game. 


I’m making this sound easier than it is, and I know it’s a gut-wrenching ordeal.  But life goes on, and so must we.  Whether it’s education or your job or your marriage or raising kids or heading a project: We need to expect failure and be okay with the emotions that arise — and then not waste those failures, but use them to plan and prepare.  

We get better by being specific in our honesty, and then asking God for wisdom and grace on the next go-around.  Otherwise, we will go crazy turning ourselves inside-out.  At some point, the self-confrontation also needs to end.  When we get it on paper, it needs to be released.  And we move forward.  We can’t stay in that place of evaluation too long, and even if we fail again, God has grace for that.

I have to add too: I don’t think the feeling of being an insecure little kid ever completely goes away.  The hesitation and uncertainty and awkwardness are rooted deeply, and I’d even say that people spend most of their adult lives compensating for the lost little twelve-year-old kid inside them.  So you’re not alone there.  It’s cool to feel like a big goober sometimes, and it keeps me humble: because no matter how rich or buff or successful I get, I’m still a little boy who needs my Heavenly Father.  I’m as dependent on God as I ever was.

If you need a verse, here you are.  Praying for you brother.  Hope to see you around again soon!

Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

— Psalm 139:23-24

— J.S.

Question: I’m A Screwed Up Hypocritical Pharisee — Is There Grace For Me?


Anonymous asked:

So I have discovered that, I’m a hypocrite and a Pharisee. I ended up disappointing my pastor and my spiritual family with my dishonesty. I feel that I have no strength to face Jesus or my church because of my sinfulness. I am honestly confused with my faith and lukewarm in everything that I do. I want to turn and follow Jesus but I feel that I have crossed the line so now I don’t even know if I’m forgiven by God. What I’m asking is does Jesus really meet us where we are? Even Pharisees?


If I could talk to you face to face, I’d give you an awkwardly long hug and start from there. Please, please, please believe: God still loves you and He’s still rooting for you, and so am I.

I’m not just saying that. Your message shows that you’re owning up to what you’ve done. I see no hint of defensive posture or making excuses. Right now, you have more insight and self-awareness about your condition than the majority of churchgoers — and while I don’t mean to compare or keep score, you’re in the right place. God is already doing something in you. Yes, you might lose opportunities in the world — perhaps big ones that you’ll mourn over — but you’ll always have a second chance with God.

I understand what it’s like to disappoint people. I know what it’s like to walk into church unable to look at people in the eye. I know what it’s like to believe you can’t do anything right and to think an entire ministry hates you. I especially know what it’s like to imagine a room full of people who are talking about you, berating you, saying “I always knew he was a little weird,” and maybe saying some truth in there, but filled with their own embellishments.

I beat myself up almost daily over stupid things I have said and for stupid actions that I can hardly explain myself. You know: there’s that late-night twitch when you replay some terrible thing you did, over and over. It’s a loop of self-condemnation, and I’ve been there.

I’m not trying to play the victim-card. We know what we’re responsible for. Sure, our motives might be a hot mess and our actions messier still, but we still know where we got it wrong. People might be rightly upset with you, and you need to let them have that, which it appears like you’re doing.

This is why the moment of defeat matters less than the moment right after. That probably sounds like the Christianese thing to say, but I am so dang serious. You can’t beat yourself up forever. You can’t keep sitting in the back of church with your head down. You can’t revel in your own shame and self-pity as if this is paying your debt. You might think, “I need to show these people I’m really sorry” and I understand that mentality, but there is no end to that, and life goes on, and so must you.


It could mean that you must reconcile with some people, to pick up a few pieces of the wreckage and make sense of it before you move on. It could mean you schedule with your pastor face-to-face and ask him how to make it right. It could mean changing churches and starting over. However it looks moving forward, please do not be motivated by shame or the urge to punish yourself out of penance.

Maybe no one will believe you’re truly repenting. Perhaps this church or this pastor won’t get over it for a long time. That’s okay. You need to work on you today. Approach Him with open hands and ask for grace, restoration, mercy, wisdom, and a way forward. Instead of telling people you’re repenting, just repent.

This time, more than any other time, is your moment to cling onto Jesus for all his strength to grow into the person you were meant to be — NOT because you’re trying to prove yourself to anyone, but because God knows you’re better than this, and He can still work through fallen people such as us.

I’m with you on this. I have failed more times than I can count. I have wept over dead dreams, broken ministries, lost opportunities, and worst of all, vanished friends. I end up in a spiral of wanting to explain my side of the story, but not everyone will believe it anyway. There is Only One who truly sees my heart and yours, because He made you and He knows you — and He truly does meet you where you are. At rock bottom, Jesus is there. I pray you will not use this time to be too hard on yourself nor lash out at your church, but instead to work on you. That must begin with Him.

— J.S.

Freedom to Love, Fail, and Act A Fool


I don’t know if I’ve ever been fully free to do exactly what I wanted to do.

What I mean is: I’m always worried about the piercing eye of perception from others around me.  I modify my voice to fit the crowd, change my opinions just enough, maintain the appropriate social standards, keep an invisible distance between who I really am and how I want others to perceive me.

A few days ago I texted a friend: "I thought I saw you, looks like your twin."

She said, "Go up to her and tell her!  Show her my picture!"

And I replied, “I can’t just do those things.”

But — why not?


When I was about eleven, I remember seeing a beautiful girl working in the mall at the food court every time I went.  My dumb eleven year old soul could not stop staring at her.  This happened for weeks. 

Finally one day I got the teriyaki chicken, looked her straight in the eye, and said, “You look really, really nice today.”

She smiled, and that was that.

And right there: I walked away feeling free and giddy and alive.  I didn’t care what happened from there, I just cared that I told her.  It was a small stupid moment in the life of a child, but it felt like a world had opened.

I want to make excuses: She’ll think I’m a stalker, she’ll take it the wrong way, I’m naturally an introvert, I’d be interrupting her, that’s not what people do anymore.


I see hundreds of people every week who are not really free but enslaved by a blurry idea of conformity that is never questioned. 

I can see it in their eyes: enslaved by beauty, prestige, their boss, their mother’s words from childhood, that bully in sixth grade, a violent relationship, the TV, the inner-loop of self-loathing.  They are essentially hollowed out zombies, filled by other people’s visions for their lives.

But I recall a day when I didn’t make up a hundred excuses to be myself.  I could leap in free fall out of my comfort zone, NOT because I cared about the results, but because the journey was worth it.  To love, to fail, to act a fool: is part of what makes us human.

Sometimes, I quit using other people’s judgments as an excuse to diminish myself — and even when I fail, it turns out fine.  Better than fine.


And you know: there are times I reached out and it saved someone’s life.  A stranger about to spiral into the abyss; a poor man on his last dollar; a young child full of hate and frustration; a young girl discouraged and distraught — I just went to them without knowing and spoke in love.  It was awkward.  It was uncomfortable.  I sort of hated it.  But it was awesome.

Jesus said: The truth will set you free.  I take that to mean a lot of things, but at least a part of that is Jesus trying to free us from the slavery of the world’s eye.  To really be free from popularity, status, achievement, moralism, opinion, gossip, reputation, and dancing on the stage of performance. 

It’s Jesus saying, Be true to how I made you.  You have permission to be you.

That requires a thousand little deaths to fear, to religion, to results.

It requires a repentance from a propped up self towards the true self found in Christ.

It requires us not only to be unafraid of failure, but to actually just fail.  At some point we have to stop protecting ourselves from ourselves: because failure is okay, and it’s only success when you can keep going in spite of what happens.

I am free to do what God wants: because what He wants, I want, and He wants me to be the true me He has created us to be.


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

— Galatians 5:1

Hey Preacher: That Loser You’re Talking About Is Me

The preacher says, “And only if he had walked out of that room, it all would’ve been different.”

The church nods, of course. Everyone agrees that getting your eyes gouged out by uncircumcised Philistines is pretty much an undesirable thing.

He adds, “He totally missed out on God’s Perfect Plan. All those blessings, gone.”

It’s a good way to increase offering. Keep the people scared, guilty, guessing, confused. You thought you would never see people fighting for the offering plate.

I remember first attending church those years ago, seeking for truth, hearing the preacher fire arrows at the drunks, the addicts, the divorced, the criminals, the perverts — and I kept thinking, But I’m that guy. I’m the guy he keeps talking about. That loser is me.

Sometimes the preacher reams on the consequences: but many of us are still living through them.

Might as well be yelling, Yeah, screw those guys! Those wicked, baby-hating, Wizard-of-Oz-loving, liberal-commie, vegan-environmentalist pagans! Am I right? Huh? The church keeps nodding.

But where is the grace for them? Does God love them less somehow? How does God feel when we fall off His Will?

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Sermon Fail: Unprepared In The Pulpit

Pastors: it will happen to you some time. Whether it’s from lack of preparation, sloppy transitions, a dry delivery, confusing sub-points, or bad gas, your sermon will fall dead flat on its face. The most seasoned veterans down to the first year rookies will experience the devastating Sermon Fail.

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