“Oh my word.” I say this all the time when dramatically expressing how I currently feel about what is happening around me. Most recently, I have been saying it repeatedly to myself as I have been trying quite unsuccessfully to maintain discipline and sanity during one of the busiest months I have experienced. Some crazy person coined a phrase relatively recently called “Failing Forward.” It is supposedly a realized forward progress after each failed attempt. It sounds noble, of course, but sometimes the “forward” part seems nonexistent and just feels like failing and falling - again. For example,
Tonight I will go to bed on time. Two hours later: still on FaceBook
I will not yell at the kids anymore. Five minutes later . . .
Only one more episode of the latest, greatest series on Netflix. Six episodes later: only one more episode . . .
I will eat better tomorrow. Tomorrow: Sure, I will go out for ice cream.
We are not going to overschedule our lives anymore. Three seconds later . . .
I am going to keep the table cleaned off. Two days later I have to push the piles aside just so I can eat at the table.
Oh. My. Word.
As I lean on scripture to find wisdom and hope, there is a passage I have been thinking about almost as much as I have been speaking that favorite phrase. It is found in Romans 7 and reads like this:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. . . For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” Romans 7:15-16, 18.
This is me every day, but these words were originally spoken by the Apostle Paul, who I would refer to as a Super Christian. If he struggled that much, maybe I just need to chill. I do no good when I live defeated because I am not good enough (in whose eyes, by the way? Mostly in my own alone). The truth is, according to Psalm 139:14, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and God has created me for a purpose. I lose sense of that purpose when I get stuck on how I do not measure up or the number of times I continue to fail and fall short.
The same goes for you. You are not a failure. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and you were created for a purpose. Failing at something does not make you a failure. It could mean you need to work harder next time. Or it could mean you are not doing what you are called to do. We all think we “should” be a certain way, but sometimes what we are striving so hard for would be like a cow trying to climb a tree because the monkey is good at it. We know that is ridiculous, but we still do similar things. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. As you. Uniquely you. Different from everyone else who has ever lived. Rather than beat yourself up over what you are not, try these things:
1. Persevere in changing bad habits, but never consider yourself a failure – just get back up and try again, without shaming yourself. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). And while you are at it, remove the word “should” from your vocabulary. It is nothing more than a shaming word.
2. Consider whether what you are striving for is how you were wired to shine or whether you are borrowing others’ strengths and trying to make them your own. Rather than focusing on removing your weaknesses, it is better to grow in your strengths. Stop focusing on what you are not good at, and focus on what you are good at (some people were born to have spotless houses, others were not – be okay with that).
3. Remember who you are. The God of the universe created you for a purpose. Not only that, He created you wonderfully. Repeat that to yourself. He did not create a failure. He created a person who messes up sometimes – or a lot, but He did not create a failure.
4. Give yourself grace.
Life is too short to spend our time focusing on how we do not measure up. Know that you are loved and that you are good enough. Still need reminding? You can always buy the shirt!
Heather Schmidt and Jodie Schmidt.