rebelling against low expectations

To All The Failures Out There (Yes, That’s You)


I just pulled up Instagram on my phone and started scrolling.

I’d made a decision last night, though: no social media till after dinner (because I want to be productive and really invest my time wisely annddd social media is like a black hole I fall into and never know when I will emerge).

I’ve tried no-mores like this before, and I’ve tried do-this-mores before, too. Things never seem to really go as planned, and that gets old after a while. Nobody likes to endlessly set themselves up for failure and discouragement. (The self-condemnation is usually what hits me. Hard.)

But I’m realizing something.

It’s the state of things.

No more social media.

Eat no more sugar. At all.

Do this. At this time. Everyday.

Engage in these three activities for an hour on Tuesdays and these four on every third Friday while out in the sun and while simultaneously engaging in physical activities.

Then, the slips come, and the goals are stained by the oozing of our failure.

I’ve wondered.

I’ve wondered why this is a perpetual problem for me.

Is it a lack of determination and perseverance? Of will power?

Is it because of unrealistic goals?

Am I scheduling things too rigidly?

Should I make a schedule at all?

But really, what I’m seeing is that maybe it’s the state of things.

I fail.

But maybe it’s not the failure that matters.

It’s the progress.

Yeah, I slip up, but I’m learning to slip up less.

New habits are slowly, slowly developing, and I’m learning.

I’m learning that it’s better to fail while trying to head in the right direction than to never try to head in the right direction at all.

I would much rather have to remind myself that hey, you failed, Deborah – but it’s the state of things. You are still making progress in the right direction.

You see, if we are drowning in unhappiness about something in our life, we are only causing ourselves harm by letting it continually suffocate us.

Just start making progress.

Failure makes us unhappy.

We can hold on to this fact, or we start making progress: we can let it go and grab on to the fact that change takes time but change is good (and we can celebrate that we are heading that way).

I hold this phone in my hand, and I can tell you that change is possible.

I didn’t scroll through Instagram. I opened the blogger app and started on this post.

We can make a change.

We are making progress.

With each choice, the state of things can improve.

We can choose to not unhappily hold on to our failure but rejoice that we’ve been given another day to make progress.

We can choose to seek to maximize our progress with each choice we make.

Maybe it’s not so much about holding our good intentions and our schedules over our lives and constantly weighing whether we measure up to these standards.

Maybe it’s a holding up of a simple surrender: Here I am Lord. I am Yours, Lord. Have Your way in me.

When the fails come and when the progress is going amazingly well, it’s all okay.

Because it’s the state of things. And our ultimate state can’t get any better; we’re children of God (1 John 3:1).

He gives us what we need to make the state of anything else better.

And the state of things can get better.

Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!

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Photo courtesy of lauren rushing and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Deborah Spooner

- a college student and pastor’s kid - is a city loving and avocado eating cultural enthusiast, creative, and dreamer who is addicted to dipping words in candor as she writes for her blog Hope Shining. Her hope is anchored to a man who came to earth around 2,000 years ago – Jesus of Nazareth – and she just wants to know Him and make Him known.


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  • Yes! Yes! Getting bogged down with my failures can be so depressing–but God’s mercy is new every morning! He never fails! And He is going to give me the strength to make progress!

    Thank you for writing this! 🙂 I’m very glad you wrote this instead of spent time on Instagram! 😉

  • Thank you! Perfect timing for the blog! I was JUST thinking about this today because I told myself DON’T get home and hop on the computer. First do this, then this, then a SHORT time on the computer! (Because just the other day I TOTALLY bombed that!) And I was wondering why I always seem to fail! Thank you for the encouragement! And I did what I said before computer!! 😀

  • Thank you tremendously! This is exactly what I’ve been needing! I rarely complete any of my goals! I get so tired of even trying, I give up often (and usually I pick up my copy of Do Hard Things,feel super convicted, and start the process all over again). I am glad it is not just me! And with Christ, anything is achievable.

  • 😀 Thank you for this! About a month ago I got my first job and then a week after that I got a call from another place that I applied at and they gave me an interview and the job. So my “first job” is actually two jobs. And here in the past week I’ve actually started my after-training-work at the second job. And I keep messing up. I’ve beating myself up over the mistakes that I made but reading this made me realize that it’s ok to mess up as long as you learn what not to do. Thank you 😀

  • Thanks Deborah! This is such an awesome reminder, lately I’ve been so depressed and mad at myself for failing to stick to my goals, but I’ve been learning that I can’t let failure become my identity, I have to pick myself up and keep going, knowing that it’s slowly becoming progress in the right direction.

  • Where is the “love” button for these articles… 😉

    This relates to me in so many ways, that I could have wrote that article(ok, it might not have been that good…), but still… it sums up my life process to get closer to God, in so many ways.

    It just seems so very, very slow, sometimes…

    But, God is right there the whole time…

    Awesome article, and thanks for writing it! 🙂

  • Wow.
    Wo- okay, you get the point 😉

    Wonderful article, Deborah. This really helps me a lot. 🙂

  • Thank you so much for sharing! I feel like a lot of the time I get caught up in the failure, and I don’t always focus on making progress, but this is an awesome reminder to! 🙂

  • Thanks very much Deborah. Failure’s inevitable, but what matters is that we continue to make progress. Great reminder.

    If there’s anyone around who never failed, it’s probably because they never tried.

  • I think sometimes we get so caught up in the fear of failure that we don’t even try. The thing is if you don’t try then you won’t succeed. It’s like at school, you feel like god is telling you to help this person, but you don’t, because you are afraid of failure, and because you don’t want to step out of your comfort zone. The fear is irrational(ok I’ll admit i ain’t perfect either) but we still won’t do it. But remember even when you fail it’s all about the process and god is there to set you on the path again.

  • Waaaahhh the timing of this article. I relate in your struggles. Just. Wow.

    I’m constantly caught up with my anxieties and fears that I end up stuck and stagnant and on verge of breaking down often.

    I allow myself to be overwhelmed by all the things I need to finish on my final year in college, not to mention the expectations and additional responsibilities.

    I’m often stressed, easily drained and joy seems so far away.

    I know God has plans but I guess they won’t be in full motion unless I completely surrender. He’s always there, extending His hand.

    I just have to hold on and rely on Him fully. He can take care of this. He can take care of me.

    Thank you for thiiis! ♥ God bless!

  • Thanks for this! I often deal with self-condemnation as well, and this is good. I can totally relate to, “social media is like a black hole.”

  • Wow, this is so true – we all fail.
    But my favorite part was the last bit: “Here I am Lord. I am yours, Lord. Have your way in me.” We need to surrender our hearts to him every day.
    Thanks so much, this is exactly what I needed! 😃👌

  • I really needed that. I have been failing in many areas of life for over a decade, but I have recently been trying to head in the right direction. Thank you.

  • Just like Matthew – I needed this. I’ve been really feeling like a failure lately in every aspect of what I do, and this really helps. Thank you, Deborah!

  • Thanks Debroah! This is exactly what I needed to hear, I fail every single day and it reminds me about how much I really need Jesus. Thank goodness He doesn’t keep score! 😀

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →