Fail Forward

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

To stumble upon something gloriously holy and good, it feels like digging up the greatest treasure.

I’m talking about boxing.

But more than that, because my experience so far with Xtreme Martial Arts has been more than money could buy.

Levi is taking Jiujitsu there, recommended by so many people. Levi is strong and obnoxiously energetic, so finding a place that he can be wild and still learning something, well that’s priceless in itself.

It was Levi’s 5th class, and I’m sitting in the tiny waiting room trying to peak through the glass into his class when I hear the discussion that’s happening inside. There must be about 25 kids in class this day. They are sitting in three rows, legs crossed, hands on their knees, locked in. Each child must say something they did that was kind that day, big or small. The owner, Jay, gives examples. Saying good morning to your parents, or helping someone at school. Anything, just needs to be good and kind. Otherwise, you can’t participate in the games. Each child had a turn. If they couldn’t think of something they came back around to them. At the very end a boy, very quietly, shared his. He said, “Jonny has been bullied at school, so I went over to him and told him to come play with me instead.” He was looking at the ground, nervous. Jay stood up, went over to this boy, and firmly squeezed his shoulder.

“This is everything,” Jay said, as he faced all the kids. “This is what counts. I need everyone to clap right now because this is what’s important. We must always support each other and stand up for each other. He deserves a round of applause.”

It was so authentic, so honest and raw and everything that’s lacking in this world, that I was moved to tears. I said a silent prayer that we stumbled upon this tiny hole in the wall place, that’s making an enormous impact on so many children. And for Levi, coming out of my mess and already bearing a cross at such a young age, for him to witness this, and be surrounded by men teaching respect, discipline and self control, I bow my head in thanksgiving daily.

So I tried it, too.

It isn’t the consistency of working out. It isn’t just having a routine that makes me feel good. It’s walking into a building knowing that whatever I pour out there, they are ready for it. I’m learning and moving and punching, I’m doing round after round with my sweat dripping off of me. I apologize to them; for coughing, for messing up a drill, for literally sweating on the coach.

“Do not apologize. It’s a gain. It’s all a gain.”

Every punch. Every squat. Every jump. Every combination I learn, it’s all for gain. I’m gaining confidence. I’m gaining control. I’m gaining the ability to fight until failure.

Will Smith recently posted a video about failure. He said fail early. Fail often. Fail forward.

Fail. Forward.

All my can nots. All my sorrys. All the times I’m embarrassed by how my body moves. For huffing and coughing. For sweating on new mats and equipment. For not being able to finish what I start. It’s all for gain. It’s all moving forward.

It’s just about showing up. Always about showing up.

Failure only drives us forward. It sets the marker, and pushes us into the space we need to go in order to eventually succeed.

I’m thankful this week for the opportunity to fail freely. To fail without shame. To be surrounded by coaches that will push me until I can’t anymore, and then help me cross that line from failure to success.


nd they bear my weaknesses with me. They’re patient. They don’t judge. They show up, and simply expect the same from us. And when I don’t show up, they don’t ask questions.

Isn’t that what walking the path with someone means? To not set our own expectations on other people, but rather just be alongside them, wherever they are at.

If you’ve never boxed, and are interested in what it feels like to have control over your body, try it. I hope that you have coaches that are as gracious as the men at Xtreme Martial Arts.

When we find this kind of treasure, in a world full of so much negativity and shaming and false expectations, hold onto it. Surround yourself and your children in goodness and light, and pray that we all come out stronger for it.

God is always showing up. Usually when we least expect it, and probably where we hadn’t been looking before. But He’s there, in the cracks and crevices of our days. In the details of our lives, God will let beautiful things unfold. Let’s just pray for the eyes to always see them.

And it’s a gift, it’s all a gift.

Keep laughing.


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