Faith Crisis

I feel like a spiritual failure

Are you the “spiritual type?” Failures aside, here’s a foolproof way to tell: If your spirit doesn’t like the idea that you’re not a spiritual type, you are one! Most likely, if you really weren’t a spiritual type, you’d be content to think of yourself as “not spiritual.” Right?

Now, what about the fact that you’ve experienced some failures? Welcome to the human race!

Hey, failure isn’t so bad: we humans learn through trial and error as much as any other way. YES — we learn through our mistakes! Consequently, the way of growth has rightly been called “the faltering way.”

Mistakes are to learn from, but don’t waste your mistakes by drawing excessively negative conclusions from them (For example: “I’m a terrible person.” Or, “Nothing ever works.” Or, “I guess I’m not the spiritual type!” Instead, when you goof up, learn why your approach needed adjustment. Remember this rustic expression, “I know what’s wrong with it — it needs fixed!”

Understanding the varieties of mistakes

Not all mistakes are created equal. Mistakes come in a variety of types, and there are different kinds of lessons you can learn from each type.

Truly innocent mistakes are in fact virtually random. They reflect a lack of information, understanding, or experience.

Self-sabotage is a form of perversity. It’s a self-destructive tendency to waste opportunities by doing something foolish — or failing to do something crucial. Self-sabotage may be semi-conscious or unconscious. It’s not pleasant to look at such tendencies, but it’s truly great to finally see them, because we can only fix what we’re aware of.

Willful wrongdoing is the third form of mistake. This is the kind of mistake you are making when you decide to willfully and consciously do what you know is absolutely the wrong thing, for absolutely the wrong reasons.

How to deal constructively with mistakes

What people do normally is they just look at whether they won or lost, succeeded or failed, and then draw conclusions from that one bit of information alone, not even looking at what were the real causes of the success or failure. When you look only at the fact that you failed, you might just conclude that you’re an awful person because you couldn’t succeed. But it could be of tremendous significance for you to analyze what kind of mistakes you made, and why. Even if all you can say at first is, “Well, it was sabotage,” that’s better than saying, “I don’t know what I did wrong” (or “I’m just too stupid to do the right thing,” or “God has it in for me,” or “When He created me, God must have done a bad job”). Discernment helps, because it brings the light of consciousness to otherwise mysterious areas.

To learn from your mistakes, you have to understand the reasons for your failure. Then you can correct them, and succeed! If you did something wrong unconsciously, consciousness can correct that error for the future. If you did something wrong deliberately, you don’t need to feel sorry for yourself; you can just take that deliberateness, and deliberately do the right thing next time. If you failed as a result of errors that were entirely accidental, you can forgive yourself entirely, and skip feeling bad about it altogether.

No matter what reasons you discover, it is never appropriate to condemn yourself for them. Innocent mistakes are not your fault. Self-sabotage is a bad habit, but a bad habit does not make you a bad person. We can change our habit patterns! Purposive wrongdoing is something we just have to take responsibility for and change, by doing right on purpose instead of doing wrong on purpose.

Take responsibility to have faith in yourself

Faith in yourself doesn’t depend on being perfect — it only depends on being accountable. Don’t worry about making mistakes, but do learn from your mistakes, and be accountable to do differently in the future.

As a child of God, you have a spiritual right to have faith in yourself. You have a spiritual responsibility to have such faith. Your destiny, and the well-being of many other people, depends on it. God depends on you. Each individual has a crucial role to play.