3 Steps to Overcome Failure: How to Restart Your Life

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Have you ever had to overcome failure or loss in your life? You are not alone. Most of us have felt like a failure at one time or another. I know. I know. You don’t want to admit it because, frankly, who wants to look like a loser?

In reality, you go to bed after a horrible day and pray the next day will be better. Many times a new day does give you a new perspective on life, and things truly are better.

Unfortunately, there are the other days when you wake up and think it was all a nightmare only to realize you are not only living it, you are the star of the show.

In fact, it feels worse than the day before, and you wonder if you will ever find your way out.

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overcome failure

In a recent post, I showed why God allows pain in our lives and uses it for good.  To illustrate the point, I used a word picture.

RELATED: How to Finally Trust God in Difficult Times

I talked about my sister’s garden and her failing squash plant. It had squash borers (icky bugs) in it. She had to do surgery on the plant by cutting out the bugs so it would survive and produce fruit.

This is not much different from what God does with us. He allows us to go through surgery (times of correction) so we can produce fruit. It is painful, but there is a happy ending when it is all done.

But what happens when the plant becomes a nuisance due to overgrowth, or it dies due to weeds or parasites? How do you cope when there is not a happy ending? Is it all a waste or is there more to the story?

In this post, you will learn how to overcome failure or loss with another word picture. I will show you that everything has a purpose. Nothing goes to waste, especially your horrible failure or loss.

How Do You Overcome Repeated Failure?

It’s not easy to overcome failure and disappointment. However, it seems that failure is the best teacher when it comes to growth. Think back in your own life. When have you grown the most or run to God? It probably wasn’t when you got that last promotion or award.

It’s is when we face obstacles and trials that we start looking outside of ourselves for answers. Sadly, this is where many people get tripped up and blame God when in fact He may actually be drawing us to Him through our failures.

Let me explain with another word picture so you understand a little better. Nature does such a good job explaining life so I am going to continue with the garden analogy.

When the Weeds In Your Life Take Over

No one likes weeds. They are a nuisance. You don’t have to be a gardener to know how fast they pop up. I can never get complete control of them in my flower beds. They multiply overnight.

When I pull weeds in my yard, God lovingly reminds me about the weeds in my own life (repeated failures) that need to go. Things like anger, fear, unforgiveness, etc.

I am constantly battling this in my heart.

In the past, I have let a few weeds take over my life. It seemed innocent at the time. I didn’t take care of my thoughts in a timely manner.

Eventually, my thought life took control, and it turned into action. Perhaps you have had the same type of thing going on. You keep repeating the same sin over and over again, and can’t get rid of it.

It is ruining your life now.

If you want to know how to overcome repeated failure, you start at the beginning. You acknowledge the failures and go to the root of the problem. When was the seed first planted in your heart?

Many times it goes back to a childhood hurt. Rejection from parents, siblings, other kids, or another type of traumatic event that changed your thinking.

Usually, bad thinking is rooted in a lie in some way. Until you deal with the original hurt and forgive, you are probably going to be fighting weeds for a long time, especially if there are lots of them ruining your garden.

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How to Restart Your Life After Failure

Continuing on with the garden analogy…let’s fast forward. How do you restart your life after a failure? For this we need to look at composting.

Composting is “a natural process that turns organic material into a dark rich substance. It is the  ‘soul of healthy soil.’ Adding compost to your yard or garden will help your plants grow bigger and better.”

The best kind of organic material is dead things and poop. Isn’t it ironic this is what gives life?  Dead things and waste are the best way to start something new. It takes time for the compost to be useable though. It has to sit for three or four months to break down and rot.

What about the dead things in your life? Or something you think is a waste? Maybe it is a dream that died, a death in the family, a parenting failure or a tragedy.

Perhaps, you have a sin that you let go too far, and it almost destroyed you. Whatever it is, God can use these horrible things for good, if you will let Him.

RELATED: The Ugly Truth About Shame, Embarrassment, and Guilt

It may be too raw right now, but with time and healing, your experiences can help bring life to others if you deal with it properly first.

In order for this to happen, you have to be willing to be broken (sit in the compost pile for a while) so it can turn into fertilizer. This is how you really start to overcome failure in your life.

What you thought was a terrible failure or loss is actually fertilizer for something new in the future. 

I think this verse sums it up best. It is a composting verse!
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28 (NIV).

Related: When You Feel Like You Have Failed as a Parent

How to Overcome Failure and Achieve Success

If you have had a horrible failure or loss, allow God to use it for good. Your experience may be in the form of weeds or composting. Whatever it is, don’t let your failure go to waste.

Compost your trials.

Let God take your pain and use it to help others who are a few steps behind you or use your failures to plant new things in your own life. Your suffering and experiences will not be a waste when you do this. Ironically, it is the best way to help you heal from any lingering pain you may still have from your failure or loss.

I pray you have learned something about how nature reflects life. The Master Gardener does know what He is doing. You can trust him with your life.

RELATED: 5 Burning Reasons Why You Need to Forgive Those Who Hurt You

Kari Jobe has a beautiful song called “The Garden.” It is a great example of how God has used a terrible situation (death in the family) for good. This is so powerful. Watch this!

3 Steps to Overcome Failure

In a nutshell, this is what you need to do to overcome failure:

  1. Acknowledge the failure. (Call it a weed)
  2. Deal with the lies, hurt, and pain. Forgive. (Pull the weed out at the root)
  3. Start new habits and behaviors. Help others who are struggling. (Compost)

Sounds easy, but this process could take a while. I had to seek counseling. Number two took me 16 months to unravel. This is truly the best plan to overcome failure. It really does work if you will take the time to do it.

Have you had to overcome failure or loss? How did you turn it into something good?

Got Big Family Problems? There is Help!

Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? You can overcome failure. Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your own family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book with a single tree on the book

Creating Family Memories Book

Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

A farm scene with a farmhouse upside down sitting on a grass field with a lake in the background.

Join Christian Family Living Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.


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Julie Plagens


  1. Jen on May 21, 2020 at 4:53 pm

    You’re speaking to this gardener’s heart! Thanks for this beautiful post!

  2. DONNA MILLER on May 21, 2020 at 7:17 am

    I need to be broken the compost pile before I can be used to fertilize others too. That is so true. That is where the enemy loses the battle. When God takes what was broken and makes it beautiful for others again. Love this post …

  3. Yaa Attobrah on April 21, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you. This is very powerful. Lots of insights to ponder over. Bless you

  4. April on April 20, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    I can most definitely attest to when we help others it can help you continue to heal in your own brokenness. I loved the analogy that you have used here. It really puts this process of what we can do to help us both avoid and heal in failure and loss.

  5. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on January 4, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Thank you for this! Very powerful.

    • Julie Plagens on January 25, 2019 at 12:46 am

      So glad it was helpful. Thanks for reading.

  6. Colleen on January 3, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    What a beautiful song! I like all your analogies to a garden (despite having only a very small green thumb and hating gardening as a kid). My loss was of my job back in 2017 after months of trying to stay in the area and getting nothing. It took six months to find a new job, but holy cow — it’s so much better, the people are amazing, I’m doing stuff I love, and I feel valuable. And none of that would’ve happened if I had held on to my old location so fiercely. I also probably wouldn’t have started my blog either!

    • Julie Plagens on January 25, 2019 at 12:57 am

      That is a really neat story. I am so glad you let God compost a really hard situation and let Him work. It is sure hard to see any beauty when you are in the situation, but when you look back you can see how you grew.

  7. Ltnn on January 2, 2019 at 9:01 pm

    He often uses what we see as bad for good. Always in his time and rarely in ours!

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:25 pm

      This is so true. We definitely don’t know how God is going to use a horrible failure for good. He has it all in His plan.

  8. DONNA MILLER on January 2, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    I love this! I needed to sit in the compost and be broken before I could be used to fertilize others too. I love how you put this post together. Very tender, creative, honest and deep all at the same time! Blessings to you in 2019! ❤

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:28 pm

      Donna, thank you for this sweet message. I appreciate your honesty. It is so hard to be broken, but God does use it for good.

  9. Kristin B Cook on January 2, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    I particularly love your composting analogy. So good! God allows things that are dead, gross, or bad in our lives so that glory will be brought to His name and good will be formed in our lives through it. He will shape us and make us beautiful through the very ugly things we have to deal with in our lives.

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:34 pm

      Kristin, this is so true. He can use our worst and turn it into something good if we will let Him. He gets the glory for every situation. I am so glad He can do something awesome with our messes.

  10. Diane@worthbeyondrubies on January 2, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Loved this post! I too can tend to fail to take inventory early on and my thoughts and my words can sometimes get away from me! Thank you for this encouragement!

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      Diane, I am so glad this resonated with you. I think word pictures can say things that regular words can’t. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Amy @ Orison Orchards on January 2, 2019 at 9:27 am

    I love all of your gardening metaphors (especially the compost, lol)! Thank you for the reminder to see the good in our trials and our failures!

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:46 pm

      Who would have thought compost could be used in such an amazing way. God can use the worst of us for something good.

  12. Gwen Thielges on January 2, 2019 at 8:59 am

    You’ve given us a great way to change our perspecitve when we are in the midst of a challenging situation. Thank you for your insight! God bless you!

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:44 pm

      I am glad your perspective was changed. Maybe it will be a good reminder for your next trial.

  13. Deborah Hunter Kells on January 2, 2019 at 7:33 am

    Thank you for the inspiration – no matter how bad things have been or if the memory lingers on. Sometimes we do the best we know at the time. Ignorance is often “not bliss” and can make some huge mistakes. Good post and a healthy reminder!

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:43 pm

      I think it is such a great reminder that nothing is wasted when God is involved. We are blessed to have a God who loves us and will do anything to redeem a loss or failure.

  14. Rosemarie on August 29, 2018 at 10:46 am

    This is a hope inspiring post for those of us who ask the question can God use someone like me. Beautiful metaphors with the gardening analogy. Thank you.

    • Julie Plagens on January 3, 2019 at 7:40 pm

      I am so glad you were touched by this post. Gardening word pictures are so rich with parallels to real life. It was fun to “dig” out the truths.

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