When We Feel Like Failures

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Failure, according to my Webster’s Dictionary, is “to prove so deficient as to be totally ineffective”, “to be unsuccessful”, “to disappoint or prove undependable”, and/or “to omit or neglect”.

AGH! It is no wonder that one little word can feel so heavy on the shoulders of us who call ourselves mom, wife, friend, sister, and Christ follower. I am here to tell you (and me) that we need to just lose this word from our vocabulary!

When I decided to homeschool Big Shot in January I had all these wonderful ideas in my head of how it was going to be. I was going to be the best teacher ever, better than any teacher he has ever had. Why? Because I am his MOM, I LOVE him, and I KNOW him! But there was just one little problem, I am his MOM, I LOVE him, and I KNOW him!! Ha. Who knew the same reasons why I thought I was going be the best teacher would be the same reasons why I feel like I am failing as his teacher.

The thing is we put all this pressure on ourselves that we in turn but on our kids. Or if you don’t have kids, maybe you put that pressure on your husband, friends, or coworkers. We want them to be the best they can be. Which, there is nothing wrong with that. Until, we start seeing ourselves as failures or our kids as failures. Gasp! What? Did I just say that? But let’s be honest, when we put so much pressure on our kids and they do not do it exactly how we want them to we feel like 1. We failed at teaching them and 2. They failed at learning it.

I have been going through a study by Lysa TerKeurst titled “Am I Messing Up My Kids”. The other day I was reading the chapter “Why Do I Feel That It’s My Fault When My Child Messes Up?”. In this chapter, Lysa is talking about how we can let situations and circumstances define us as failures. But we really need to be seeking Gods truth, His guidance in everything.

“When hard times comes and beat against our stability, we must be determined to hear God’s words and put them into practice. Then nothing can topple our peace, security, or true identity. Today is a new day. A day when we will only be defined by God’s truth and grace as we navigate this wild wonder called parenthood.”

It is easy for me to fall into the default category as being a failure because of my situation or circumstances. I love to plan things. Occasionally my plans do NOT go the way I intended them to go. Last Friday was our last day of school, until we start our summer session, and Big Shot had 1 final project to finish for social studies. We had been learning about different types of communities: farm communities, suburbs, and cities. I planned a simple project – build one of these communities out of Legos. Prompts for being the coolest mom ever! Right? Wrong! Big Shot has thousands of Legos and he LOVES to use his imagination to build all kinds of crazy contraptions. However, my plan for a fun project turned out to be a nightmare. 1. He built everything except what he was supposed to be building, 2. He had a meltdown about how he can’t build anything, 3. He doesn’t have enough pieces to build anything, and 4. He just didn’t want to do it. UGH. I felt like such a failure because here I was trying to plan something fun that I knew he would just love and it backfired. I was angry, at Big Shot, at the situation, and at myself for “failing”.

This is a little plan in the grand scheme of things but I don’t think this was a lesson from God about failure, I think it was a lesson about showing love. I have it in my head that Big Shot is 8 years old and he should just be able to do things on his own without my help. I am trying to overcome this way of thinking, because again he is still 8 years old and he still needs to be shown love, compassion, and guidance during certain situations. When Monday rolled around Big Shot and I completed his project together. We built the best Lego skyscraper known to man and there was no yelling or crying. It was so much easier on the both of us. Bonus, I got to sit down and enjoy one of his favorite past times with him. In that moment I did not feel like a failure. I felt like a loving, caring, and nurturing mom.

What does God have to say about failing? The Lord has brought me to this verse several times the past couple weeks and it goes hand in hand with feeling like a failure. This verse is powerful and definitely one of my favorites.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

– Psalm 103:8-14

WOW! Can I get an Amen!?!

This first verse is just amazing! The Lord is compassionate; he is/has “actively sympathetic concern for the suffering of another”, of us! And He is gracious, meaning “marked by courtesy and kindness”, he is slow to anger, and is abounding, “to be plentiful in amount”, in love, “intense affection”. When you dig deep into this verse it can be really hard to comprehend how much God cares for us.

He will not always accuse us, “to charge with a shortcoming or error”. Nor will he harbor his anger forever. When you look up the word harbor it is “a sheltered anchorage for ships”, “a place of shelter”, “to provide shelter”, “to entertain (a thought or feeling)”. He is not going to bunker down and hold onto his anger for us nor is he going to cover us in his anger. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. Iniquity is another word for sin or wickedness. This is proven in the fact he sent His son to die for our sins. We certainly did not deserve Jesus’s death, but God loves us and sent his son to die for us so we could have eternal salvation in His name.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. In verse 8 it talks about God’s abounding love, here it talks again about how great his love is for us. It is as high as the heavens are above the earth, which essentially is never ending! As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Again, WOW! Can you even measure the distance of how far the east is from the west? No, because it cannot be measured! He has removed our transgressions, our “acts of violations of the law” (His laws). We lift our sins, our failures, our worries up to Him and He removes them for forever!

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. If anyone knows us better than anyone else it is God. He created us to be who we are. He created us to have free will, but he also created us out of love. He knew we would have shortcomings and yet he still has this overpowering love and concern for us. He is not going to fail us!

God forgives us of our sins and our failures; he doesn’t hold on to them or hold them against us. He doesn’t have a naughty or nice list. Thank goodness for that. If God can forgive us then why can’t we forgive ourselves? Or our children? Husband? Friends? Coworkers?

We all have moments when we fail, but we cannot let those moments define who we are. We need to remove that word from our vocabulary and start replacing it.

I am a failure an amazing woman who will not be defined by my situation.

I am a failure supporting and loving wife/mother to my family.

My child is failing growing and learning how to navigate this world.

My husband is failing trying his best to be the greatest husband he knows how to be.

My friends are failing just like me with full schedules and the desire to be a great friend but can’t always find time to reconnect.

When you are feeling like a failure, cross that word out and replace it with something more uplifting. Remember Psalm 103:8-14 and find peace in the fact that God forgives us and does not hold our sins against us. Parenting can be tuff stuff. Hang in there mama, we are all in this together.

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