I’m not sure how it happened, but I seem to be friends with more and more people who are “green” and “organic” and “work out” and “don’t eat crap”. They never eat anything not grown in their own backyards, they make their own shampoo, and they’d have their doctorates in homeopathy if the Internet could award that sort of thing. They are amazingly energetic, focused people, and I am sincerely proud of them.
But for someone who just tries to keep her head above the ever-rising water, it can be intimidating to think about my “perfect” friends. It’s not that they ever have or ever will condemn me for my all-refined sugar diet and my synthetic-chemicals-only policy, I just feel overwhelmed when I compare myself to them. I make myself feel like a failure, and, quite honestly, from a health standpoint, I am a failure.
If health were the only area in which I wasn’t the valedictorian of awesome, that might be ok. But it’s not.
Turns out marriage is hard. I missed the pre-marital class on “putting your spouse’s needs in front of your own”. Getting this rock of a heart to accept that and implement it multiple hours (minutes?) in a row is proving difficult. Paul says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). If the Bible is the standard (and it is), then I’d have to say I am failing at marriage too.
Apply that same verse to friendships, and I’m screwed there as well. Selfishly and vainly aptly describe how I react when friends don’t do what I want them to do. I’m not at all thinking about them and their needs, just about myself. Again, with the failing.
How about parenting? I’m tired. “Teaching” the same lessons that never seem to stick; losing patience before breakfast is over; reacting to the ugly with ugliness of my own. I’m not going to be the poster child of a parent who does not exasperate her children (Ephesians 6:4). Not this week (year?) anyway.
There are more ways in which I fail not fit for public consumption. (You didn’t know I had that filter, did you? Yeah, add that to The Failure List).
It’s more than a pity party I’m having over here, and I’m working my way to a point, so please don’t share a “cute” Facebook image about “bucking up” and “staying positive” and various and sundry sayings that fall into the category of “not my reality”.
(I’m clearly feeling feisty today. Add that to The List, if you want.)
(I’m also using the air quotes ad nauseum. Just imagine Chris Farley reading you this post, and you’ll “feel better” about the “whole thing.”)
Who’s ready for the redemptive point of this post?
I think God brings my failures (all of them) to my attention (all at once) in order to show me a vital truth: I need Him.
You (I) may think I already knew that about myself. And I did, in an intellectual sense. But in an experiential sense, I seem to need a tangible demonstration very a lot often. Daily, even.
Last week, when I was acutely aware of The Failure List and not so aware of my intrinsic value to God, He did some things to remind me this whole show runs on His power like a car on gasoline (or electricity, if you’re one of my green friends. Sigh.)
Two different friends in spiritual predicaments reached out to me for advice. Me. ME. The woman with The Failure List a mile long and growing. Part of me wanted to say, “I can’t help you.” And I was right, I couldn’t help them. But God through me did. The Holy Spirit brought to mind what to say, and it proved helpful (so they say). (I’m such a skeptic. Where’s my list, I need to add that.)
Another friend told me she wants me to speak at a program at our church in the fall. Me. ME. The woman with The Failure List a mile long and growing. Given that my heart is to eventually speak/teach/write as a career, I found it to be so sweet of God to have my friend think of me.
Then yesterday I took my Failure List to a place I volunteer once a week helping women who find themselves pregnant and scared and hopeless. My role is to inform the clients of all their options (abortion, adoption, parenting). The bigger goal is to love them well, showing them Jesus-love no matter who they are or what decision they want to make for their baby. The biggest goal is to spend time understanding what their spiritual beliefs are and sharing with them what mine are.
In the interest of HIPAA, I can’t tell you exactly what happened yesterday, but I can tell you the Lord used my time with one client to show me, “Your Failure List is no match for My power. I can and will use you despite your failures, and I can and will bless you despite your failures. My agenda doesn’t depend on how long or short your Failure List is, and your need for Me doesn’t depend on how long or short your Failure List is.”
If I can muster up the energy I’m going to ask God to use His energy and power to help me fix my eyes on Him instead of The List. That sounds pretty biblical.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” (2 Corinthians 4:18).