Words you don’t want to hear, and certainly wouldn’t say to anyone else (no matter that you secretly believe them). Words well-meaning people insist are a lie straight from the devil himself, meant to be ignored, or at the very least, overridden by louder voices with more encouraging things to say. Words you vehemently dislike.
But true words.
No, I mean it. If you’re honest with yourself, you are a failure on a daily basis.
You Are a Failure
Don’t believe me? Don’t want to face the facts? Maybe a glimpse into your typical day will help you:
- 6:30 am: You ignore the Vienna Boys Choir boisterously singing “Goooood Morning!” over and over again in their valiant effort to awaken you. You roll over, close your eyes (and your ears) tighter and will them to stop. singing. forgoodnesssakes.
- 6:35 am: They’re singing again. Good. Grief. Will they ever shut up?!
- 6:40 am: Your husband walks into the room, turns off the incessant singing and hands you the tablet so you can read the Bible (which you should have started ten minutes ago). You mumble your thanks, manage to find the Bible app and open it up to today’s reading.
- 6:45 am: You realize with a start that you’ve dozed off after reading the grand total of 1 whole verse. You rub your eyes, sit up straighter, whisper a desperate prayer for help, and focus your eyes back on the tablet.
- 6:55 am: You manage to somehow finish your Bible reading and begin to pray.
- 7:05 am: Your husband returns from showering and starts making noise in the room, waking you up as you realize you need to start showering NOW in order to head to work on time. Gah. Prayer time practically non-existent again.
- 7:20 am: Emerging from the shower, you see your children eating their breakfast without the benefit of an accompanying nutritious health-fortifying fruit OR Vitamin C OR elderberry syrup, all of which you have asked your husband countless times to include in the morning breakfast routine that typically occurs while you’re in the shower. Hurling mental insults at your husband for his lack of concern, laziness, selfishness, and all other manner of unforgivable sin, you remedy the situation to the extent you can and proceed to finish getting ready.
- 7:25 am: Interrupted from your concerted efforts to be ready on time for once in your life, you are irritated beyond reason by The Boyz’ goofing off when they are supposed to be getting dressed. You holler. You yell. You pronounce judgment and unreasonable consequences.
- 7:30 am: You realize with renewed regret that once again, you are not going to be ready to walk out the door at the necessary time. Your day begins with frustration and anxiety…
And this is just the first hour of the day. It doesn’t include the impatient words, the raised voice, the proud thoughts, the inconsistent parenting, the irritation, the ill-treatment of your (truly beloved) significant other. The failure – and along with it, the shame, regret, and guilt – piles up, heaps on heaps, as you go through your day, determined to do right but instead only making everything very very wrong. You finish the day quite sure that you will one day lose your job because you stink at it, your husband will one day leave you because you rolled your eyes at him for the last time, and your kids will hate your stinkin’ guts when they’re grown.
OH, and no one will attend your funeral.
You Are a Failure
Yes, my dear self, you are a big fat failure with a capital F-A-I-L-U-R-E. Tell me, when was the last time you actually accomplished something that you determinedly set out to do? Because as I recall, you have made repeated attempts to:
- Blog on a regular basis
- Lose weight
- Conquer the mid-life acne for once and for all
- Exercise daily (or at least make it to 10,000 steps)
- Eliminate sugar completely from your diet
- Eat more vegetables
- Speak kindly at all times to your children even when they’re driving you nuts
- Not let your children drive you nuts but happily accept their childlike childishness as a matter of course
- Not roll your eyes at your husband, at least when he’s looking. No seriously, you desperately want to be a wife who respects her husband because he deserves it.
- Patiently – ever-so-patiently – teach your classroom full of littles while repeating everything you say ten thousand times (“Sit on your bottom!”) with a smile on your face and kindness in your voice.
- Share the love of Jesus with those incorrigible little people
- Stop eating out so much and make more food at home
- Eat 80% clean food instead of this miserable 70-75% you’ve got going on
- Ferment all the things! Probiotics everywhere!
- Build your multi-pronged home business so you can fund your dreams
And on and on it goes.
/End internal monologue
The Defeat of Failure
*Sigh* Depressing, isn’t it? Have you ever had that conversation with yourself? Surely I’m not the only one who repeats this mental monologue ad nauseum until I’m incapacitated by depression, fear, and an overwhelming sense of guilt because I just. Can’t. pull. It. Together.
And the truth is, no matter how many times someone lovingly encourages me that I am not in fact a failure (thanks, sweetie!), nothing can erase the sheer fact that my “successes” in life are so minimal as to be essentially nonexistent. The bare facts mock me in their invincible veracity. I am, in fact, a failure.
In and of myself, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.
The Victory of Grace
Thank goodness the story doesn’t end there! Praise God that my failure doesn’t affect His view of me. How amazing that my continual failure at anything in life – spiritual, emotional, physical, practical – means very little in the grand scheme of things.
Here’s the deal: failure is a fact of life because Adam sinned and the world was cursed. I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect, life isn’t perfect, and the world is a horrible place because of our combined failure to get it right.
For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
We know these words, we’ve memorized them, we can recite them in our sleep. But somehow we feel like their power was already applied in our lives way back on the day we got saved, and that they are irrelevant for our daily (hourly, minutely) failures – and SINS. Grace forgives sin and grace fixes sin. We know about the first part but we forget about the second part.
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
Did you notice that? Who is it that gives you both the desire and ability to do what is right? How is it that you can successfully perform God’s holy will in your life? By pulling up your bootstraps and trying harder? By renewing your determination? By praying more fervently? By being more spiritual?
No, No, NO, and NO! None of that does a lick of good, because trust me I tried and it didn’t help. (Doesn’t stop me from trying again… I’m a slow learner!) And anyway, God’s Word tells me it ain’t gonna do any good in any case: All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. So… the best I got isn’t anywhere near good enough. Even if I did manage to make it through a day when I woke up on time, read the Bible and prayed with adequate fervency, spoke kindly and compassionately to all I met, fed my family homemade nutritious food, and loved my husband perfectly, I’d still be a big fat failure because I’m still human.
Nothing in me, in and of myself, is good. Yes, I’m a failure. But GOD and His GRACE work in me, changing me, helping me, forgiving me, fixing me, cleaning me, empowering me, and enabling me on a daily basis.
But God doesn’t.
Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!
/Recommence internal monologue
So, yes, dear self, you are in fact a failure. That cannot be denied. However, greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world. The Power that lives in you is greater than your failure, greater than your sin.
And besides that, you are not defined by your failure, not anymore. You are no longer condemned by your sin. You are covered by the blood that cleanses you, and the power of the Holy Spirit is changing you. You are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, made possible by the mercy, love, and grace of God.
Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. No matter how badly and catastrophically you manage to completely mess up your day – and the day of everyone you love most dearly – God’s grace is more than enough to forgive it and to fix it.
So. Stop looking inward (enough of this incessant internal monologue!) and start looking up. Confess, repent, move on. Lay aside the sin that does so easily beset you and look to the cross for your power to go forward in grace.
And watch God turn your failure into victory.