i fail, He doesn’t

1/12/17     As I am preparing workshops, I’ve been going back through notes and journal entries, older blog posts and saved websites. I came across this post from a couple of years ago, and I thought I’d bring it back to the front. I hope you are encouraged.

Is failure a bad thing? I have come to believe this life changing truth: failures are only stepping stones. I also believe that many times, failure is in the eyes of the beholder.

Over the last couple of decades, I’ve learned one of those life lessons that can only be driven home by experience. I have learned that what I considered to be failures, were actually the limitations of being human. I have learned that there are times in life that I HAVE to “fail” at something, in order for the absolute need that we all have for our Savior, to become absolutely evident in that situation.

I can think back to when I was a little girl and all of the promises I made my then-future children. I would always be there for them. Every word they said to me was going to be classified as extremely important. I would be involved with every single aspect of their lives – ALL of their lives. They would love and adore me and always show the utmost respect for their sainted mother. They would always do what was right, never have to learn lessons the hard way, never disappoint me, and always be my very bestest friends… They would be everything that I needed, and I would reciprocate that beautifully and completely for them by being their bestest friend, their kindred spirit, their everything.

I got married young, and I was a young mom. I had my son at 20 years old (2 years into my marriage), followed by three girls in the next 9 years. My son started individuating (which is just a nice way of saying he was demanding his own way, to create his own identity, completely separate from me) at about 10 months of age. His first word was an abundantly firm “NO!” When I said “White,” he said “Black.” When I said “Up,” he yelled “DOWN!” When I said, “Come!” he ran away. In his four-year-old words, “I would argue with a fence post!” He would, and he’d probably win or at least out-last it.

That kid could take stuff apart faster than I could turn around twice – especially when I was 6 months pregnant. I watched him take apart a sliding window that was twice as tall as he was and three times heavier. My pregnant self was moving rather slowly, and I barely saved the poor kiddo from being squashed! He shimmied out of his crib, threw himself out of his highchair, banged his head on the wall to get attention, screeched in public, and grabbed knives out of the dishwasher – by the blade. He was a handful to say the least! Still, he was a sweet and affectionate little booger-butt and had a way of making his shenanigans seem humorous – at least in retrospect! To say the least, he was an exhausting child. It was almost like it was his mission in life was to destroy the fantasy that I had about my children and my mothering, which by the way, I knew NOTHING about.

You could say that homeschooling was really thrown at me like a bucket of cold water.  At first, I approached our home educating like I did everything else – with high expectations, idealistic outlook, and short-lived excitement. Reality became abundantly clear, exceedingly fast: this experience was going to rip away whatever shred of my fantasy-mom I had left. I felt like I was herding flees. Talking to the wall. Stepping on a rake. Life was like a runaway carnival ride. Days blended together into a nightmarish haze.

I tried being stern mom. Sweet mom. Grumpy mom. Uptight mom. Organized mom. Do-whatever-you-want mom. The only thing I was consistent at was inconsistency. My kids didn’t seem to care which mom they got on any given day. I was in WAY over my head.

About half way through our fifth year of homeschooling, I started to wise up to something. I didn’t know how to mother, teach, communicate, or even be a decently nice person. I needed help. Since nothing else had worked, I decided to pray. I was still at a place in my life that I wasn’t 100% convinced that He cared anything about what was happening to me, but I thought it was worth a shot. I began praying at the beginning of every day. At first my prayers were tentative pleas for help “if He was listening.”  But something started happening; I began to feel something I had never felt before. Peace. Just a little bit of peace. Soon I was coming to Jesus in earnest. I still wasn’t convinced He could do anything to fix my broken kids, but maybe He could do something to fix the broken me – even a little.

In one of those anxiety attacks/face-to-the-ground times with Jesus, after I had poured out all of my frustrations and anxiety, I was quiet before Him – more like sulking-silent.

I had just told Him how sick of everything I was. It seemed like every single curriculum I had chosen had fallen flat. Nothing was working like I wanted. Not a single thing was going the way I wanted. My kids still didn’t seem to get what I was trying to teach them. I mean, I spent hours – okay, days – planning and charting how I could accomplish all kinds of lovely and charming learning and more hours endowing them with my vast knowledge…and they just didn’t care! Nothing I did was good enough. Nothing. What was I to do? After I had given Him this ear-full, I half-heartedly waited to see what He would say about this horrible quandary I found myself in. As I lay there sulking in all of my misery, our not-so-subtle God flashed a neon sign across the steaming walls of my mind and heart.

This isn’t about you! Lift your eyes off of yourself. I am the One who has the plan for you and your children. Trust Me with this. 

I am so extremely thankful for the kindness and love of my Jesus. With this one neon revelation, the load of perfection shifted a little. It was during this time that I started to become interested in digging more into His Word. Little by little, He was bringing me to the place where I was willing to fail at all of my human efforts so that His all powerful work could be done.

All of these years later, I can say: I fail. I try not to; I don’t intentionally set out to fail those I love. But I know that my human weakness alone will fail. I am not all-powerful. I am not perfect. I am probably not the best mom who has ever graced this earth. I will never do enough to make everyone happy. I will never know the future. But I know the ONE who does. He is teaching me to give Him each day. He is teaching me to put on my armor every day. He is teaching me to live authentically. He has taught me that I can trust Him even when it doesn’t LOOK like anything good is happening. He has taught me to live with open hands – holding every dream, every pain, every struggle up to His HOLY light. I have learned that He is HOLY HOLY HOLY, and I am not. He knows the future, and I do not. Everything…every.single.thing in my life is His.

He has shown me that HE is the Teacher of my children…and ME. He has taught me to chill over the things that are not that important in the scheme of eternity, but to set my face like a flint concerning the things of eternal value. He has taught me to lay down my pride, pick up His Word, bend my knee to His plan, and trust Him with the outcome. He has also taught me that my children don’t need me to be their “Peter Pan friend” always childish and self-centered. In fact, they are not here to satisfy any longing of my heart or soul. They are not capable of making me happy all of the time.

All of my children have accepted Jesus as their Savior at some time in their young lives. My girls are all living in active pursuit of God. Their faith amazes and inspires me.

Jesus has my son, now 21 years old, in His classroom. Although he confessed Jesus as his Savior as a boy, my son has turned from the truth he was raised in. His dad and I pray continuously for him to return, but we know that sometimes God has to bring obedience through breaking. There is no VISIBLE evidence that our prayers for restoration are being answered. There are no OBVIOUS signs that the truth that was poured into his heart and mind has done anything. BUT we know that God still has a plan for that young man.

My prayer is that He brings my son to his knees. We can hold him up with open hands and hearts that have learned the value of letting God be the perfect parent. God is the One that gave my son the rambunctious, strong willed character, and He will be the One that uses it to His glory. If his knees don’t bend here on earth, we have God’s promise that they will eventually fold before the glory of our Jesus, because every knee will bow and every tongue WILL confess that Jesus is Lord. When I consider eternity, that isn’t a bad thing. In the meantime, I will keep loving him and pointing him toward the Truth.

So, yes, I have failed. I have failed a thousand little ways, and I have failed at being my children’s savior. And thank God, because there is only ONE SAVIOR, and His name is Jesus! And we all need Him desperately!

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