Gracy Upon Grace by Tracy Joy Jones

Once Upon a Time on National Television

Ever had a moment that made you cringe every single time you relived it in your mind? Total humiliation? Awkwardness? High profile failure?

Did it make you afraid of failing or did it make you try to protect yourself from ever letting it happen again?

Unlucky in Love and Lyrics by Tracy Joy JonesIn honor of my new novella, “Unlucky in Love and Lyrics,” (releasing on March 17th – free to my newsletter subscribers). I’d like to share a little story of one of my moments which involved all three: total humiliation, awkwardness, and failure.

Do you remember the song “Shout to the Lord”? Most likely you’ve heard it or heard of it since most of the church world was singing it once upon a time. It was the song that singularly put Hillsong on the worship map. However, if you don’t remember it, don’t worry. Neither did I — on national television in South Africa — once upon a time. Except I was supposed to be singing it as a solo, accompanying myself on the piano. Right in the middle of the song, I completely lost the words to the second verse.

Gone. Nothing.

I made something up (most definitely not the real words). I hope it was worshipful. It would be really wonderful if the words had something to do with God, but I truly have no idea. I eventually hit the chorus again, and I’ve never been so relieved to sing “Shout to the Lord” in my entire life, before or since. I was rejoicing for all kinds of reasons.

My Mom and Dad were being interviewed on the television show which is how I came to be on the show in the first place. And I’ll never forget the look my Mom gave me at the end of my song. Something like “What in the world was that?” and “We are definitely going to laugh about this later.” I think the look on my face was a contorted mess between humiliation, laughter, and remorse all while trying to worship Jesus. Not pretty.

But looking back, I think if my mom and dad had shamed me in that moment, it could have also become crippling. Or if fear had come in, as it so often does with our shame. Instead, my parents and I laughed until we cried. I still laugh rather than cry at that memory. They freed me from the cage of shame before it could become a prison. But it could have gone so very differently

You may not have a story exactly like mine, but in all of our lives, we have moments of failure that can either shut us down or make great stories afterward. Sometimes, if our failure is big enough in our minds, fear can enter in. And many times that fear can end up stealing something precious from us. The thing is, in order to soar in the thing you were made to do, you are probably going to fail quite a few times. Michael Jordan didn’t make his high school basketball team. Thomas Edison had hundreds of failed light bulbs. JK Rowling was rejected twelve times before Harry Potter was picked up. Failure is part of the journey for many of us, but the fear that can come in as a result, can actually keep you from reaching who you were meant to be and what you were meant to do.

It is important to remember that God doesn’t see your “failure” in the same way you do. First of all, I think He has a wonderful sense of humor, and I’m so very thankful. He created laughter and humor and made us in His image. I love that about God. And He is a father after all. My kids make me laugh all of the time. I can only imagine how much God laughs with me as I’m learning, or just because life has a tremendous amount of humor in it if you can only relax enough to see it.

But more importantly, God has a lot of grace for us as we learn and grow. He doesn’t expect perfection. In fact, the Bible says in John 1:16, “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” He meets us with grace upon grace, even when you mess up on national television. Even when we are so embarrassed we can hardly breathe. Fear comes in when you think it is up to you to either control the situation or keep it from happening again – and what if you can’t?

But God is big enough for your failures. He meets your weakness, your forgetfulness, your mess with His amazing strength. He will meet you, He will guide you, He will show up in you, but that doesn’t mean that He will fulfill your idea of perfection. You have to let go of the illusion of control and embrace that you are still learning. You have to keep moving toward what God has placed in your heart and trust Him in the journey.

Here’s something that will mess with your head. It certainly messes with mine. What if God was perfectly glorified in my failure? What if I ended up with no glory, and He ended up with all of it? Maybe because I kept going. Maybe because it was His song and He could have had me sing it perfectly if He wanted to and He liked my version better (probably not, but maybe). Or maybe because my parents didn’t put me in a shame box afterward, and I learned to laugh at myself even if it is on a national scale. The lesson is still with me years later.

God isn’t cruel or sadistic. He doesn’t delight in your pain (or mine), but sometimes our pain is because our pride is hurt, or we are desperately looking for the approval of men, or pushing ourselves towards an unrealistic standard of perfection when we are only beginners. When we fail in those moments, God meets us with truth and humor and grace and comforts us as His children, as the beginners and learners that we are. He’s not interested in “perfect” kids. Trust me, there’s no such thing. He’s interested in a relationship with us just as we are. Jesus is the only one who has ever been perfect and because He was perfect, we get to be God’s kids.

The lesson of the prodigal son always gets me here. What did the father do with his son’s epic failure? He threw a robe over him, put the ring on his finger, and shoes on his feet and said, “My son.” That’s what my parents did for me in my failure. It’s what our Heavenly Father does for all of us. Just as you are, He receives you.

Grace upon grace, my friends. God gives us grace, but we have to give ourselves grace too. Grace to be learners. Grace to be His kids. Grace to get back up on stage again. Grace to laugh at our failed efforts. And grace to encounter His faithfulness through it all.

Gracy Upon Grace by Tracy Joy Jones

Comments 1

  1. Thanks Tracy. I especially needed to hear one line of this blog. “The thing is, in order to soar in the thing you were made to do, you are probably going to fail quite a few times.” I recently did something similar and needed to know this.

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