“Cast all your cares upon him for he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)
I don’t think much of my life I have felt very successful. I mean in the way most people determine success. There have always been people telling me that, “Oh you’re just fine” (which by the way, in Minnesotan “fine” means probably the worst ever). But I haven’t ever felt particularly great at anything. I also wouldn’t have necessarily classified myself as a failure either. That was, until, I became a grown up, and even more when I got married, and even more when I became a mother. At each of those endeavors, I became a failure.
I had never in my life experienced such gut-wrenching shame at my day to day life than when I got married and heard other women talk about all they did for their husbands. Those women were cooking nutritious meals, cleaning the house perfectly, making him a man-cave and regularly planning totally amazing dates. I never thought it would get worse and then I became a mom and Pinterest became a thing. Apparently other women can clean their houses in six easy steps and spend one day a month making delicious freezer meals and teach their toddlers manners and Spanish all while exercising 20 minutes a day giving them really flat abs.
This world of other-centered comparison told me one, resounding message: I was a failure. Every time I lost (and lose) my temper with my sons, every time my husband comes home and I’m still in my pajamas just begging for a moment to brush my teeth, every time I open a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese, I’m a failure. And this is a dangerous script to play. It’s a loop that disguises even your greatest triumphs as foggy attempts at a greatness others have achieved and they did it better, quicker and in cuter shoes.
It’s a script that the enemy plays in your quietest times that says you should be better and you believe it and you feel shame and you do nothing because anything you do isn’t good enough and just like that, the lie has won.
I had this day a few days ago. The day where nothing went right. The day where my son sat in front of the TV for hours, yes hours, as I sat and felt like a failure. So, I decided to see what scripture has to say about failure and I found something surprising. Throughout the whole Old Testament the word failure when put in the context of a people applies most often to one theme, and that is when Israel failed to bring their concerns before God. When they were hungry or confused or lost or angry and they kept it to themselves and tried to figure it out on their own that was when they failed. They weren’t described as failures because they were lost or hungry or confused, their pride defined their failure not their circumstances.
Unfortunately the Bible doesn’t have a checklist for being the perfect mom, or wife, or photographer, or family, or CPA, or administrative assistant or any career. It does however tell me that if I lack wisdom I should ask God who gives generously without finding fault (James 1:5). It does tell me to come boldly before the throne of God. It does tell me that whatever I do whether in word or deed do it for Christ. And it does tell me to cast all my cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7).
Friends, we cannot let lies tell us we are failing if we are bringing our needs to the God who wants to walk with us through the deserts and valleys and fields of life. If you hear the words “I am a failure” try replacing it with “Lord, hear my prayer.”
If you need the encouragement to do so, let me know, I’ll be trying, and failing, and trying again. Lord help me, I’ll try again
Ali can be reached via email here.