Giving Myself Permission to Fail

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A few days ago, my 6 year old boy John came home from school ecstatic about the prizes he had won and all the candy in his Easter goodie bag from school. One of his favorites was a bouncy ball. He bounced it on our hard wood floors and on the ceiling and his sister was jumping off the walls in sync with it.

“John, take that outside please,” I tell him as I desperately wanted some peace and quiet.

He opens the door and heads outside and within 3 minutes, he’s yelling my name.

“MOM! You shouldn’t have told me to go outside! I bounced the ball and now it’s lost.”

Oh boy. There goes my quiet time.

I go outside to help him look for it and it’s nowhere to be found.

“I’m sorry John.”

“It’s your fault. You told me to go outside,” he says on the verge of tears.

I reason with him and share how he is still responsible for the ball. I let it be and let it go, but something inside me still felt like I failed him. I guess I didn’t suggest the best solution for play.

My feelings toward his lost bouncy ball reminded me of how I often feel in motherhood. Am I failing at this? I never feel like I quite have it down and as soon as I do, some other struggle and difficulty surfaces.

In her honest article, “My Pact to Become Good at Failure,” Mandy Arioto says,

“In a sense, motherhood offered me new eyes to see that failure can be the thing that saves us. This is what I’ve come to believe about failure: it’s good. Just like childbirth is good. And by good I mean incredibly painful. Failure hurts, but there is tremendous potential for goodness to be born through it.”

– (Hello, Darling MOPS Magazine Spring Issue, pg. 29)

I think she is right on. For so many years, I have looked at failure as a bad thing. Could it be though, that failure can be turned into a good and godly thing?

When a deeply invested friendship hasn’t turned out the way I thought, I’ve felt like a failure. When I can’t seem to balance all the needs of my children and love my husband well, I’ve felt like a failure. When I lash out and say words I would’ve never imagined saying to those I love, I’ve felt like a failure. When dinner is not what anyone wants to eat, yep… failure.

And then there are situations and circumstances in the past that haunt my heart today in light of failure: A hurtful word, an unacceptable grade, the inability to do what was expected, a damaged relationship, and more.

IMG_7096Regardless of the sin I’ve committed and the sin that’s been done to me, God still uses failure and all the pain and suffering attached to it. Maybe we don’t see the purposes now — that’s okay. God loves us in the midst of our deepest failures.

There is never a time when He is shaking his fists and yelling at us to get our act together; rather His arms are outstretched like a father to his child. He tells us to, “Come.”  He accepts us by grace through faith, not by any good works we have done. Even on our best day, we still fall short. That’s why we need Him. That is what we celebrate this Easter.

I will fail, but I am not defined by my failures because God redeems them. He forgives. He is gracious. He is patient. And pain, while it is so difficult, can be a wonderful tool for growth and change and Christ-likeness. If I gave myself permission to fail, and let God pick up the broken pieces for me, I’m pretty sure I would start to see things with a fresh pair of lenses where grace saturates the world around me. It is a daily battle to rely on these truths, but it’s possible.

Well, the bouncy ball incident hasn’t been talked about all weekend until yesterday when John stormed into the house and yelled:

“MOM! I found the ball. It was in front of the slide!” He threw his arms around my waist and almost knocked me down, to which I translated: Mom you’re still the best!

How to depend on God’s grace

Kauai, Hawaii

On our honeymoon four and a half years ago, Jeremiah and I went on a hike via horseback throughout the lush terrain of Kauai, Hawaii. Mid way through the excursion, we planted ourselves at a waterfall to get water, rest, and eat sandwiches. After our bellies were full, we jumped into the water and swam up to the waterfall. We climbed to the rocks behind it and sat still for a few minutes, refreshed by the waterfall and refreshed in our new union.

Lately, I’ve been picturing that waterfall like God’s Grace. So constant. Abundant. Energizing. A beautiful downpour.

And I’ve never seen it quite like this before. When I could be headed down a dangerous path, God’s grace somehow sustains me. When I don’t deserve certain gifts, grace keeps me.

I think when we realize that God’s grace is always available, we stop trying to do “good” works all the time and we depend on him. We see that He’s not in heaven throwing lighting bolts down into our living room. We don’t have to earn his favor. We don’t have to live life chained to bad habits, addictions, or lies. We have his grace to draw from and to help us where we are weak.

Here are some practical ways I’ve been trying to depend on God’s grace:

  • When I’m impatient with my son’s fits or actions – I remember that God is working patience within me and it doesn’t come over night. God is teaching me in the same way I’m teaching my son.
  • When my tone is critical or harsh towards my husband– I remember that I’ve grown leaps and bounds in this and it will be a process of sanctification and a willingness to obey God’s Word instead of go off my feelings.
  • When I don’t love people well in my thoughts or actions– God loves me still, gives me the opportunity to repent, confess that sin to others, seek reconciliation, and do things different next time.
  • When I don’t love God the way I should by spending time with Him– He reminds me of where I’m wavering and that he is better than life itself and gives me the desire to open his word and enjoy him.

To sit under the waterfall of grace, there is no place on earth like it because it changes the way you see everything and most importantly the way you view God. You can be encouraged that he won’t give up on you and will sustain you until the end.

What do you appreciate most about grace?

Healing Faith

grace_candle_logoWhen God wants to show you what human nature is like apart from Himself, He has to show it to you in yourself.

I read these words out of Oswald Chambers this morning. It really hits home to me especially in the last few months where I’ve seen ugly parts of my sin. I’ve heard it said once that the closer you grow towards Christ, the more you see your sin.

Sometimes I think I’m naturally good on my own. And that I can do life on my own. Even as a Christian who knows where my identity lies, I still sometimes struggle with the latter. It’s interesting the way God works in how he shows us the nastiness of our sin. While the news will show us the depths sin can take a person (like the recent murder of the abortion doctor or a major collapse in the economy due to frivolous spending),  as Oswald said, it’s often that God will show it to us in our own hearts… (however scary that might be!)

To show us we really aren’t so good after all. A little lie. A little gossip. Anger. Pride. Selfishness. Greed. Vanity. The list goes on…

But the good news is that God’s Grace covers over all of it! That’s why He came. He died on the cross to heal us from those sins and to give us new life in Him. It’s solely by grace that my sins have been covered- nothing I could ever do on my own. And thankfully he came too so that the more I love, enjoy, and delight in him, the less I sin or desire unsatisfying things that are not of Him.

So the next time I get a sneak peak inside my soul and see the sin that’s really in there, I can thank God and praise Him all the more that He’s healing my brokenness and He’s restoring me into His image day by day. And he won’t leave me where I’m at.

That’s what I thanked him for today.

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