Escaping Hubris Through Failure - Pop Culture Espresso Shots

I have the best wife ever. For my 31st birthday, she planned a trip for a handful of friends and me to go to an escape room, which is basically a live-version video game.

Eight of us were told that we were FBI agents whose colleague had been killed while trying to rescue a kidnapped young girl, Judy Bates. The kidnappers, alarmed by the FBI’s presence, escaped with the girl and strapped a bomb to her chest, setting the timer for one hour. We, the remaining agents, had the hour to decipher a set of clues strewn about the room in order to discover the girl’s whereabouts, disarm the bomb, and rescue her.

We failed. And it sucked.

Don’t get me wrong. I had fun and all - hanging with friends, solving puzzles, feeling super smart when we figured out all the clues to unlock the door. But failing to save Judy was a major disappointment and somewhat of an embarrassment.

Mind you, this particular mission has only a 5% success rate, so it wasn’t too surprising that we didn’t finish, but part of the reason I chose this mission was because of the 5% success rate. I wanted to be exceptional. And we weren’t.

We were like 95% of people: failures.

At least it was hard not to feel that way. After all: it was just a game.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who struggles with hubris, but I tell you, losing this game became a very quick ego-check for me. And you know what? I’m grateful. I’m grateful for this failure.

Last week, I wrote about how watching scary things in movies can actually be practice for being brave. This week, I’m thinking that losing in games is actually practice for humility.

I’ve been wrestling a lot lately with the reality that one day I’m going to die. There’s no escaping it. And this scares me.

In part, it scares me because I don’t like the idea of being reduced to nothing. I don’t like the idea of not being able to talk. I don’t like the idea of not being able to eat. I don’t like the idea of not being able to do anything except to wait and hope that God will raise me up.

But that day is coming.

I run around my life so preoccupied with making myself look good, so worried about someone knowing when I’ve done something brilliant or accomplished something difficult, but the reality is that there is a day coming when I will no longer be able to boast in accomplishing anything. I’ll experience in my bones the reality that it is God Who is going to have to work in me. I have no life in and from myself.

Losing at the escape room gave me a taste of that reality. It helped me practice humility, admitting that there are some things I just cannot do.

I am not God.

Shocker. I know.

But still, these defeats are painful because I walk around in my life with such a falsely inflated sense of self, believing that I am (or at least that I ought to be) capable of doing all things. It is difficult to stand at the end of oneself and to admit defeat, to say, “God, I can’t. You can. Help.”

In a sense, my failures are the very things that save me, because only when I am weak, can I truly receive God’s grace.

To quote St. Paul, “[The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9). It is truly only to the extent that I am willing to see my own weakness, to see my own frailty and failure that I am able to comprehend the height of God’s power and the depth of God’s love.

Therefore, I will see such failures, such frustrating losses as gains in the knowledge of God and the experience of God’s love, teaching me to wait patiently on Him who can do all things, including raise the dead.

He is my only hope; I cannot hope in myself, and I would be a fool to do so. And it was the escape room that taught me I can only escape my hubris by being willing to fail.

Photo Credit:

Man Falling: Despositphotos

Man with Computer: Depositphotos

Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, mover, shaker, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, and CrossFitter. Christian has his first MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.