Permission to Fail: How to Push Past Your Limits

“Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.” 1 Timothy 4:14 NIV

It was Test Week at my CrossFit gym and I dreaded it. 

For several months we lifted weights with a slow count and higher than normal reps. For example, one week, we did back squats. (That’s where the barbell sits on the back of your shoulders, and you squat with the weight.) Five sets of five. Three seconds down, a three-second hold at the bottom of the squat, and three seconds up with a one-second reset. 

It’s the hold in the bottom of the squat that takes you out. That second or two or three where you wonder if you’re going to be able to stand again. 

At my 5:00 am class that Monday, we had fifteen minutes to work up to a one rep max.

Coach Tara showed us how to bail if the weight was too much. “Expect to fail” was her wisdom of the morning. 

Something clicked. 

I had permission. 

To fail.

I’m getting older. Muscles pull on a whim. I’d hoped to add five, maybe ten pounds to what I’d been lifting. I ended up adding twenty. Thirty was too much (my fail), but I think I could have added another five. 

Permission to fail brought freedom. People bailed all over the room. Tries. Fails. 

But permission to fail also brought progress. Wins. PRs (personal records). 

Courage raised its head, gritted its teeth, and stepped up to the bar(bell). Shae, a teacher in Duncanville, moved 315 pounds that morning. Game face on, she squatted and drove up, legs shaking, voice roaring, until she stood tall. 

Permission to fail. 

What if those words opened the door to your child’s creativity? Their curiosity? Or their courage?

What if they opened the door to yours?

God knows our weaknesses. Psalm 103:13-14 read, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” 

God also knows our fears and the paralysis they can cause. Like Joshua as he stepped into leadership after Moses’ death. God said in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

Note the antidote to fear: God’s presence. 

What has God put on your heart? What looks so big that you’re scared to try? 

How about your kids? What dreams do they cherish?

Go ahead. You both have permission to fail. 

Because in the act of trying (and in the act of obedience), you may surprise yourself and each other. You might go places you never anticipated. 

But here’s a warning. Fear weasels in as we get older. 

When our kids were little, we cheered every step, sound, and scribble. Have our expectations shifted? Is there an unspoken expectation to color in the lines, to earn a certain grade, or to get a “real” job?

What if setback became the springboard to success? What if growth came from the grappling? What if the letdown led to the liftoff?

God has a purpose—both for you and your kids. He assures you of His presence (Hebrews 13:5). 

What’s keeping you and yours from adding more weight to the barbell?

Try it. You have permission.

God will be cheering for you. 


What dreams has God given you? Your kids?

If you aren’t taking next steps, what’s holding you back?

How can you reframe failure as something positive?

Leave a Comment

Join Gayle

Subscribe to get my latest content by email.

We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Recent Posts