January 17, 2015

When you feel like a failure

Sometimes, I feel like a failure.

Maybe I'm the only one, but I doubt it.

So often, I look around my life at all the things that are left undone - the dishes in the sink, the laundry piled in the corner, that little squish around the middle of my waistline. That's when I hear the whisper:

You can't do anything well. Look at all of the ways you're failing. Why can't you be like so-and-so? 

So, I slump down on my couch. I look around at the juice stains on my sofa and the remains of spilled baby food on my carpet. I feel the weight in my heart get heavier.

You're. Not. Good. Enough. 

This is the lie that has followed me for years. It pushed me to run when I should have walked. It challenged me to overstretch and overextend myself physically, mentally, and even spiritually. It set up others in my life as competition rather than community.

It's a dangerous lie.

You see, when we give in to the belief that we're not good enough, then eventually we stop trying. We never finish that book proposal. We give up on the exercise program. We push our big dreams to the back of our closet because we feel like we're not worthy of them.

It stops us in our tracks. It makes us fearful to move forward. We're afraid that the rest of the world will discover what we already know: I'm not perfect. I can't do it all.

In our beautiful world of curated images, it's easy to hide the things that are damaged and broken. We don't want to put that on display for the world to see or (heaven-forbid) comment on. So, we go on believing that perhaps maybe we're the only one who struggles. That somehow, we're abnormal if we can't maintain a perfect house, a perfect body, and raise perfect children. After all, everyone else seems to have it all together.

The truth is that we can't do it all. I sure know that I can't. I had a friend write a comment on a Facebook post a few months ago asking "Is there anything you can't do?" I wanted to laugh and say "Oh sister, where do I begin?"

Here's the thing about mom guilt, fear, and shame: they slow you down, they wear you down, and eventually they'll convince you to stop trying. They'll tell you that you're wasting your time and energy. They'll do everything in their power to convince you to give up.

I'm fully convinced they're a tool of the enemy, and my prayer is that you'll see them for what they are - lies, straight from the father of lies.

What could you accomplish if you stepped out in faith? What if you brought your broken, imperfect mess of a life to the God who loves you and made you (squishy middle and all) - straight into the throne room of the creator of the universe and asked Him to make something beautiful out of the mess?

God is not afraid of your shortcomings. Time and again he's taken the scared (Moses), the unlikely (David), and the unloved (Leah) and brought about amazing things. He sees. He knows. He loves you in spite of it all.

He has a way of turning the frightened (Gideon) into a mighty warrior.

The scriptures are full of broken and messed-up people. People who fail. People who make mistakes. People who are imperfect. Why do we read their stories thousands of years later?

Because God. Stepped. In.

Don't let the enemy tell you that you're worthless. Don't listen to the whispers that tell you to give up. Take the next step, even if it's hard. Do the right thing, and if you fail, which you inevitably will along the way, get back up. Dust off those shaking knees and keep moving.

You are enough.

Not because you're perfect, but because the One who made you is, and scripture promises that "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6).

Walk on, weary sister. Lift up your head. Fix your eyes on the Father. Do your best. Don't stop trying.

We're all failures. We all fall short. But God is bigger than our shortcomings. He takes broken things and makes them beautiful again.

So, here I sit, it's after midnight. The kids are in bed. My house is still a mess. My hair is still unwashed, and there are a thousand different things begging for my time and attention. I know that when the morning comes I'll have a choice to make: Listen to the lie that says "I'm not good enough and I should give up" or keep putting one unsteady foot in front of the other. I may never BE the best (and that's OK), but I can DO my best and present it as an offering. This is my prayer:

You made me. You know me. You see when I sit and when I rise. You who formed the mountains also saw my inmost being. You know all the days planned for me before even one of them came to be. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I know that full well. Take these broken things and make them beautiful. Help me to see with your eyes. May I come to know what is truly important and what is only temporary. I am far from perfect, but I am willing. Help me to make the right choices, to pursue the right things. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. I am precious to you. Grant me the grace to see myself the way that you see me. Grant me the faith to walk where you lead and the strength to follow. In my weakness, Lord, show your strength. 


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