Beauty For Ashes

Something Has to Change: Episode 15

Meggan Stephens

3/13/20245 min read

low light stage microphone photography
low light stage microphone photography

Defining Failure

Failure is defined as a lack of success, or defeat. Studies have shown one negative impact on the brain due to failure is a release of cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone responsible for the body's fight-or-flight response. Experiencing failure can lead to an altered perception of your own abilities, emotional scars, feelings of helplessness, and an unconscious practice of self-sabotage. However, failure is also a vital tool for refining and redirecting your life. Stephen very profoundly states that failing does not make you a failure, neither does losing make you a loser.

Using Failure

Although failure can have negative effects on the mind and body, it can also help you to become more intentional. Understanding what has caused your defeat can better prepare you for success in your next attempt. Let's take baseball as an example. Imagine you're up to bat, and you strike out. Either you can become defeated and allow that strike-out to ruin the rest of your game, or you can assess what caused you to strike out in the first place. There is a difference between dwelling on failure and recognizing the error of your ways. If you can assess that maybe your swing was off, or you took your eye off of the ball, you can then be intentional to not make the same mistakes next time you're up to bat.

From Death to Life

With every failure, there is an opportunity to give up, or to grow. Often times, motivation to succeed is replaced with an intense desire to give up completely at the first sign of defeat. Stephen illustrates a new perspective on the concept. In order to understand failure as a refining tool, you need to see the beauty within it and develop a new relationship with it.

Begin to see failure as a dead seed planted in the ground but then springs into new life. It's an interesting concept as we don't typically see life spring from death. However, we actually do, but fail to take notice. With spring approaching, we begin to see the grass, trees, and flowers that once died out through the winter beautifully spring back to life. Failure can be seen as the winter before the flourishing of spring because just as it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual.


The single most important step to success in any aspect is endurance. Endurance is the ability to push through the most difficult of situations despite every obstacle that rises against you. Jesus emphasizes this concept in Matthew 24:13 when He says the one who endures to the end shall be saved. Life is an endurance race, not a speed race. Therefore anything worth having or achieving will typically take time to attain. If we can endure through our failure, that challenge will bring out the greatness within us. As said in the "Grab the Rope" videos, "Don't give up. Push past every negative feeling today." If we can just keep pushing, keep fighting, even when we don't feel like there are any results, we will see the stronger, better equipped version of ourselves on the other side of the battle.

Understanding Yourself

With each episode of this series, the "something" that has to change is always self. In order to change yourself, you must understand who you are and why you think, say, and do the things you do. With that being said, most of us tend to be highly critical of others rather than ourselves. We often spend more time analyzing someone else's behaviors and practices rather than understanding our own. In doing so, we criticize rather than correct, inducing a toxic atmosphere and setting a defensive tone in our relationships.

Criticism vs. Correction

To criticize someone is to rudely tell them what is wrong with them in a negative or personal way. Correction is explaining why something is inappropriate and displaying an example of how to do something appropriately. Because we're not only creatures of habit, but also of emotion, our relationships suffer from our own pride and ego that inevitably speak through our criticism of others. This is probably best seen through your relationship with those closest to you such as a child or spouse. Stephen uses the example of burning eggs. When responding critically to the one who burnt the eggs, said person will immediately become defensive and justify the reasoning rather than understanding why it happened. This is where understanding yourself becomes crucial. Had it been you who burnt the eggs, you'd probably want to be shown a little grace, mercy, and love.


The Hebrew word for love is "ahava," meaning "to give" or "to give to one as you would yourself." The understanding of yourself is evident in the way in which you love others. Ahava is best illustrated in the second commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself and to treat others the way you want to be treated. However, love is not something given based on reciprocation.

Relationships with co-workers become a great example. Your co-workers are not always friendly. In fact, a lot of times your co-workers can easily become your enemies. There always seems to be that one person on your job who may get under your skin more than anyone else. It may feel as though that person knows exactly how to push your buttons and bring out the worst in you. This is the person God is using to strengthen and develop your ahava. Forgiveness is required in order to love as Jesus loved. If our Savior can plead with the Father to "forgive them, for they know not what they do," then we ought to strive to forgive and love those who aren't showing us the same benevolence in return. The host describes forgiveness as a divine attribute, and when practiced, allows us to be more like our Creator. True ahava becomes the art of giving people Jesus through your actions.

How to Grow

Within each of us is an innate desire to grow, to become the best version of ourselves. Growth is essentially the transformation of either mind, body, spirit, or all of the above. In order to attain growth, or change, we must endure discomfort. Growth and comfort cannot coexist. Either you will embrace discomfort in order to succeed, or you will yield yourself to comfort and complacency, remaining stagnant. The difference between growth and stagnation is action. It's going to take work and intentional endurance. Temptation will arise to quit, but each time you push past the temptation, you will gain self-discipline, a crucial quality in attaining growth. True self-discipline is what you maintain when no one is watching.

Something Has to Change

The "something" that has to change is our perspective. Learn to see the beauty in the ashes of every failure, recognizing that failure can only occur because you made an effort to do or change something. A wise woman instilled this saying into me, "Nothing beats a failure but a try."

Stephen closes this episode with three takeaways. The first is that failure is not final. There is opportunity to try, and try again. Failure is only the end if you allow it to be, just as Satan is only right when you believe him. The second is to develop an ear of success. Accept every word as helpful, even if it's a negative word, learning to avoid that voice behind the negativity. Lastly, growth involves accepting the challenge to move forward. As said in the very first episode, challenge holds a paramount role in the journey to change. Learn to love a challenge and approach it head on.

Contemporary Speaks, a mental health podcast, has spent the last fourteen weeks discussing the many different aspects needed to produce change. However, along the journey to successful transformation, failure is inevitable. In the fifteenth episode of Something Has to Change, the host, Stephen, encourages the audience to change their perspective on what it means to fail. Even more so, he presents an idea to use failures as a tool to promote growth through understanding yourself and the reasonings that lie behind defeat.

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