When We Fail…

So, let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.

Galatians 6:9-10 (The Message)

There was an experiment years ago conducted with people who were in a diet study. The trait in question was the ability to move past failure and to maintain sight on the goal. In the study, participants were given highly monitored daily diets. The calorie content was regulated, and participants were to eat exactly what was put before them.

One morning, the participants were given a high calorie milkshake. I’m sure that many questioned the wisdom of drinking all of those calories first thing in the morning. It was likely the vast majority of the allowance for the whole day, however, they complied.

Here is where the study got interesting. The researchers wanted to see how the participants reacted to the experiment. They broke the group down into two cohorts, based upon this experiment. After being given the milkshakes, the participants were given more ice cream and asked to respond about their favorite flavors. They were then allowed to consume as much ice cream as they desired.

Some members, feeling that they had already “blown the diet”, went ahead and ate more ice cream, conceding that they had “already blown it anyway” Other members, believing that they needed to cut down calories as much as possible after the morning milkshake, ate only what was necessary to go along with the trial of ice cream they had been asked to do.

The point became clear about the effect of “failing once”. Some members recognized that failing once was a problem, but with determination to reach their goal, they would try to overcome the morning’s indulgence. The other members, the “hell with it” group, gave themselves permission to fail again, convincing themselves that they had already lost that day.

Further study indicated that the group who gave in to “second failures” (the “hell with it” group) did poorer in achieving the goal of weight loss. Those who were able to keep their eye on the prize, recognized their first failure, but did not allow it to get in the way of success.

We all fail. The question is, what do we do when we fail? Do we shake it off and start anew, or do we give in to shame and failure and say, “the hell with it”?

God is the God of second chances, and many more…

Prayer: Lord, thank you for never giving up on us! Amen

Disclaimer: For this blog entry, I have taken the results of several such studies and, for illustration purposes, blended them together. What I described here are the tendencies found in the mindset of how some people see failure, and how they respond.   

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