Why I’m Happy When My Kids Fail

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by Sammy Adebiyi

Failure stinks. No one likes to feel like a mess-up and no one likes to disappoint the ones they love, especially dad.

The other day my daughter made a series of bad decisions and I was happy when it happened.

True story.

I was genuinely happy when she messed up. I wasn’t happy “that” she messed up but I was happy “when” she messed up because failure is such a great platform for love and grace to shine.

See, it’s so easy for my daughter to run into my arms when she’s hitting home runs, and it doesn’t require much for her to believe I’m for her when she makes good choices.

But the moment she fails, everything she knows to be true of our relationship seems to go out the window.

She doesn’t say much when she fails, but her slumped head and defeated demeanor tells me all I need to know.

Is dad still for me? Is he still proud of me? Does he still love me?

If you pay close attention, you can almost hear those words beneath her apologies.

But that’s not a kid thing is it? No, it’s not. It’s a human thing. I’ve been there and so have you.

Failure stinks. No one likes to feel like a mess-up and no one likes to disappoint the ones they love, especially dad. There’s just something about the feeling of failing dad that stings a little more than normal, isn’t there?

I can tell she feels distant.

So I smile and lean close. I let my joy overshadow her weakness. I smile with delight at what is about to happen as I whisper these words in my soul.

Thank you, failure. Thank you.

Thanks for giving me an opportunity to remind my daughter how much I love her. Thank you for lending me your mic, stage and platform.

Thank you for giving me the emotional leverage to remind my girl of her true identity. Thank you for letting me make a “grace investment” in my daughter’s future.

You see this was just a small boo-boo. The bad choice I speak of is one we’ll all soon forget, but that won’t always be the case. Someday it’ll be different. Someday she’ll strike out in a big way.

I don’t know how or when, but someday soon my daughter will mess up in a big way, and when she does I want her to know that she can come to daddy.

I want her to know that no matter what she did or where she’s been, she can always come to daddy.

I’ve told her that several times. I’ve told her that, when she fails, I hope the first thought that crosses her mind is “go to daddy.”

I don’t know if she believes me. In fact I’m pretty sure she doesn’t … YET!

But that’s okay, and that’s also why I am happy when she fails now like she just did.

I’m happy because I get to show her in small increments that she can come to me. I’m happy because failure allows me to lean in close when she feels distant.

I’m happy that failure allows me to show that I love her more than she’ll ever know. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying her failures don’t pain me. What I am saying, though, is that failure is a great opportunity for grace to reign.

Don’t be impressed with me. I didn’t come up with this stuff. I’m just trying to be like my dad. My heavenly dad. Your heavenly dad.

You know that’s how he rolls right?

You know he longs to draw near to you when you feel distant, right? You know he also views failure as an opportunity to shower you with his grace, right?

Hard to believe I know, but I assure you it’s true. I assure you that failure is not the last scene in this movie. Just ask Peter.

Three times he denied Jesus.

Don’t you wish you could have been there when Jesus pulled him aside for that one-on-one “I’m-still-for-you” conversation after Peter failed miserably? (see John 21)

Can’t you just see Jesus grinning at the opportunity to love on his “defeated” son? Can’t you just picture Jesus with his arms around Peter thinking, “Man, you have no idea how much I’m going to use you?”

Wow. It’s true, isn’t it? The song writer was right.

His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.

And on and on and on and on it goes. It overwhelms and satisfies my soul. And I’ll never ever have to be afraid. This one thing remains.

Your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.

So what kind of thoughts run through your mind when you fail? Anybody feel like a failure lately?