Strange question, I know. Most of the time we are asked, “How do you measure success?” This is usually followed by a lecture on how shallow we are and how we should reevaluate our priorities. Well, this in this blog I want to look at this issue from a different angle-from the side of failure.
Failure is a big issue for me because it is my greatest fear. It tries to wrap its greedy little hands around everything I do. When I run, I am often disappointed in myself because I feel I didn't run fast enough. I hear the voices from my high school track meets telling me I'm not as good as the others. When I swim, I remember not being able to complete a workout from grade school swim lessons, and I begin believing that I'll never be a good swimmer. When I'm trying to lose weight and the scale goes up instead of down, I want to resign myself to my current weight and grab a bag of chocolate rather than going for a run.
And last night, as I was rocking JL to sleep, I again felt the grip of failure trying to grasp at my mind. Because of the surgery this week, we have gotten out of our bedtime routine. JL now desires a little more snuggle time before going to bed. Now, this is definitely not a bad thing, but because I'm prone to see myself as a failure, all I could think about was how she used to put herself to sleep and tonight she wanted to be rocked to sleep.
I read a book that talks about helping your child learn to be independent from day one, and now at three months she was more dependent on me than at two months. Now before you stop reading and say, “You're crazy!” or “Lighten up!” Be assured I have already said these words to myself.
But this got me thinking, how many of you are struggling with the same thing. How many of you feel like you have failed when your to do list isn't completely marked off when you go to bed at night? How many of you lie awake at night feeling overwhelmed because you didn't hit the standard you set for yourself.
Paul felt this way about his spiritual life:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7:15, NIV)
So that leaves me with the same question we started with? How do you measure failure?
I tend to measure failure as anything less than perfect, which makes for a long day. So today, I'm giving myself freedom to reevaluate my standard of failure. I want to live in freedom and not in defeat.
Last night I had to stop, step back from the situation and look at the big picture. I had to stop allowing myself to be overwhelmed with failure, but rather rejoice in the truth. The truth last night was, I was so thankful that JL made it through surgery and was never sick. The truth was, I enjoyed rocking her to sleep and getting a few extra minutes to snuggle with her. The truth is that loving my baby never equals failure.
I had to ask myself what does God ask and require of me? Here's what Jesus says in Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV).
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Love God. Love people.
Last night as I was rocking JL, I asked myself if I was accomplishing this standard. The answer was “yes.” I was loving JL. I thought about the nights that I have needed a little extra time on God's lap before falling asleep and knew that my rocking JL to sleep was actually a good thing, not a failure.
This may seem like a crazy example to you, but I chose it because I know that those of you who struggle with feeling like a failure have many stories that to others would seem crazy. But to you, it is real life. For those of you who are in the failure boat with me, I challenge you today, to begin stepping out of the boat.
Here is how I am taking the first steps out of the boat.
I want to first stop and ask myself, “What is true?” And secondly ask, “What does God say about this?”
If I am sinning I obviously need to make a change, but if I am just beating myself up emotionally, I probably need to change my thought pattern rather than my actions.
At this point if I need to change my thought pattern, then I need to cling to the truth. This can be the obvious truth, such as “I am not a failure as a mother.”
Or it can be truth from the Word, like the passage from Matthew 22 above.
I encourage you to do both. Find scripture to back you up. The truth is Scripture is our only offensive weapon in spiritual wars. So grab the Sword of the Spirit and begin taking back the ground you have lost to failure.
Today is the day to stop being defeated and begin living in freedom!
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What truth do you cling to when you are tempted to see yourself as a failure?
How do you overcome it?
If you have any thoughts please post them in the comment section so that we can learn from each other.
Thanks for allowing me to share my heart with you. I appreciate each one of you and your desire to grow in your relationship with the Lord.