I am risk adverse. Maybe not as much as some, but for sure more than most. Perhaps you are risk adverse (maybe you prefer the term “cautious”). If so, than please hang with me. If you are naturally a risk-taker, well, you might like what you see here. Also, please know we are all jealous of you.

Making a purchase is hard. I have to analyze and re-anlyze before buying anything. Diving into the depths of product reviews on multiple websites is the only way I can begin to feel comfortable making a decision. Analyzing the opportunity costs, the lifetime value of the product, my actual need for it, alternate means of meeting the need, and if I really want to spend my money.

And thats just everyday buying. Job changes, housing choices, career decisions, and educational opportunities can all be paralyzing. What if I pick the wrong job? Miss out on a better living arrangement for my family? Begin climbing a corporate ladder only to watch the company dissolve around me? End up with a diploma from school with an inadequate reputation?

Well, any of those things could be devastating right? So I stop, read, think, read, stop and wonder. Then I stop thinking about it for a couple weeks before diving back into research. If 100% certainty is possible, well by golly, I want 110%.

The problem is I never get the certainty I want. Usually, I am pushed into finally making a decisions at, say, 75% certainty and then I spend the next year wondering about the other options I didn’t finish considering.

This struggle comes from a desire to have the perfect life. To make no mistakes. To never mis-step, to never second guess, and to always succeed. There is a deep assumption in my gut that life could be flawless.

I haven’t found that life yet.

Yet, the Christian life isn’t about perfection, as much as much as I try to imagine it as such. Its about grace and restoration.

A couple wise mentors and a few books have begun to point out the stress and pressure of such an approach. You can’t completely avoid failure. No amount of my analysis paralysis will save my life from making mistakes.

In fact, in this pursuit of perfection, I am robbing myself of the value that comes from mistakes. Through avoiding, I am no longer affording myself opportunities of grace and restoration.

With the help of a few others, I am nurturing a new theory of failure. Notice I call it a theory because I don’t pretend to have fully embraced this in my life. It goes something like this: you can fail forward.

Your mistakes are the biggest learning opportunities you will ever have. And your character is formed (and reveled) in the times you fall short.

I will not pursue mistakes. But I will no longer fear them.

The tension is obvious, right? I want to move forward in life, I want to have tremendous learning experiences, and I want to have my character strengthened…but I don’t want to fall down. Falling down hurts. I don’t like hurting.

But perhaps pain is a better teacher than perfection. Perhaps you can learn more through action than through analysis. 

Believing those last two sentences is a step in the right direction. A step towards failing forward. Which sounds like it could be a step toward grace.

  • Sawyer