Quit Thinking You Are the Only Failure: Because You Are Not

I walked confidently and relaxed into the hairdresser. It was time for a little relaxation.

Being about ten minutes early, I was told by the other hairdresser that Jason would return in a few minutes. Enough time for a cup of tea, I thought. And proceeded to get one.

Within minutes I was sipping my tea, beginning to relax from the hurry and stress of the day.

Then I got a text message. Reminding me that my hair appointment was on Thursday. As it was currently Tuesday, realization dawned on me that I was exactly 48 hours early.

My feelings of relaxation oozed away. Like water from a colander.

I explained the situation to the other hairdresser, who joked it’s better to be early than late, and took my leave.

I was feeling a bit discouraged and idiotic. Like a fish who finds they’ve jumped out of the water and smack into the middle of the dock. Because you see, it wasn’t the first time I had showed up at the right time on the wrong day. Or the right day and wrong time. Once I was two weeks early to an eye appointment.

Ugg. So, there I was kicking myself and thinking about the wasted time, wishing I didn’t have this past history of doing this before, and wondering what my husband would say when I showed up an hour early for our after-haircut-walk that we had planned.

We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.Do you ever feel this way? Surprised, and then embarrassed and disappointed that you have managed to do the same thing again.

Only sometimes it is a lot more serious than being two days early for an appointment.

Maybe you yelled at your kids again and you feel you are making no headway in patience. Maybe you just got done scrolling through Instagram and you find yourself judgmental and critical. Maybe you catch yourself playing favorites with your children. Telling your sibling an untruth. Trying to control the situation to get your desired outcome. Or maybe your past is haunting you and causing your shame.

Whether you are feeling like a failure. An imposter. A bad mother. Mired yet again in sin. Or just like you are not making any headway with your problems that haunt you.

You are not alone.

This is a universal and human problem.

And that is a comforting thought.

Because our enemy wants us to think that everyone else (or at least most everyone else) is not as flawed as us. Not as prone to make the bad choices we do. Not so mired in bad habits as we are. Or that they are all leading lives free from mistakes and surprises.

When the truth is, they are not.

We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.

How do I know you are not the only failure?

 

Because when I read the bible, I see a host of humans just like me who struggled and messed up and sinned and made the wrong choices. And while I am not cheering for them to do the wrong thing, it brings me comfort and encourages me that they are also human.

Abraham lies to the king about Sarah being his wife. And not just once, but twice.

Even after God corrects him, he does the same thing again.

I can relate with that.

And yet God doesn’t withdraw his favor from Abraham. He doesn’t strike him dead. No, he lovingly protects Sarah from the King’s advances and returns Abraham’s beautiful wife to him, yet again.

We may expect a little revenge or withdrawal from God about now in the story. But no. He still keeps his promise to give Abraham a son from which will spring a whole tribe to numerous to count. And what does he call Abraham? His friend.

I read this and know that God doesn’t retract his promises to us based upon our performance. He doesn’t ever abandon us based upon our choices. He doesn’t just leave us to muddle through and get ourselves out of our own messes. He is not vindictive, but instead forgiving. Gracious.

We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. That for our life to count our day must be going well and nearly perfect. That our mistakes unqualify us. Our sins keep us from being used in powerful ways by God. And yet none of this is true. God knows we are human. He knows our frailties, is not surprised by our sins, our day we think is unfolding in the wrong direction.

So, if you are wondering if God loves you. If his promises apply to you. If he is going to finish his work that he began in you, just start reading about the characters in the bible. And take comfort because they are flawed humans just like you and me.

They try and control their future. Like Tamar sleeping with Judah, and Sarah trying to get a child by giving Abraham her slave.

They lose their temper, like Peter cutting off the ear of the High Priest’s slave, or Moses yelling at the Israelites.

They forget to keep their commitments and fail to do what they are told to do, like Peter, James, and John falling asleep while Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gathsemone.

Some have a sordid past, like Rahab, who will marry an Israelite and be mentioned in the line of Jesus.

They fight and cheat their siblings, like Lea and Rachel and Jacob and Esau.

They are critical and judgement of their leader, like Miriam of her brother Moses.

They play favorites with their children, like Rebecca favoring Jacob over Esau, and then Jacob favoring Benjamin and Joseph over his other sons.

They persecute the saints, like Paul before his conversion.

They overlook their children’s indiscretions and fighting with one another, like David.

They run from their mission, like Jonah.

They are tormented and teased about being different, like Hannah who strikes a bargain with God to get a son.

If you think the bible is full of unflawed characters who do what they are supposed to do and don’t question God’s timing or make wrong choices, think again.

Biblical characters are unperfect. But God still uses them in his story of love and ministry.

We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.

 

You are in good company. And God can use you too?

 

Don’t get discouraged by life and your flaws.

God is using you too. And he promises he will complete the good work of salvation he started in you. He’s going to make sure you make it into his family and obtain salvation.

Now there is a comforting thought.

Take heart. Know you serve a loving God. A forgiving God. A God that is helping us all along the way. A God who uses highly flawed people.

Your mistakes and sins and life choices don’t disqualify you. They don’t keep you from being used in powerful ways. No, they are all part of his glorious plan. And they point others to God’s goodness.

Quit doubting that you will somehow blow your salvation, turn others from God, or miss your chance to leave a mark on others. Focus instead on doing the next right thing in obedience. Because he is cheering you on, using you, and extending his grace all over your life.

We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


Having trouble enjoying life? Reconciling your current reality with how you wish life really was? Get a free PDF with 12 tips to help you enjoy your life right now. Subscribe and join the journey. You will also receive weekly encouragement and hope tied up with some humor. Because life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: How are your failures being used as an asset?

We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.

May link up at Kelly Balarie (#purposeful faitht), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Maree Dee (#Grace & Truth), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#porchstories).

We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.

We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.

We have this false notion that God uses only nearly perfect people. The truth is that your mistakes and sins don't disqualify you, they point others to God's goodness.

 

How Pride Impacts Our Relationships

 

Pride can negatively affect relationships. Learn 4 ways to slay pride and the fears that drive it.Pride can negatively affect relationships. Learn 4 ways to slay pride and the fears that drive it.Pride can negatively affect relationships. Learn 4 ways to slay pride and the fears that drive it.Pride can negatively affect relationships. Learn 4 ways to slay pride and the fears that drive it.Pride can negatively affect relationships. Learn 4 ways to slay pride and the fears that drive it.“I think you are angry.”

“Nope.”  I spat out.

We were in our first year of marriage and driving north to visit friends.

“Well you sure seem angry.”

“I’m not,” I said staring at the red light we were waiting on.

Just breathe, I reminded myself. Stay calm.

“There is nothing wrong with admitting you are angry,” he said, a few minutes of silence later. “Anger is just an emotion. It doesn’t make you a bad person.”

I listened a little more intently. I had never heard that before.

“So, what if you are angry. Big deal. It would be better to admit you are angry and discuss it, than try and stuff it down and pretend you are not angry.”

“Maybe.”

He sighed. “Why is it so had for you to admit anything? To admit you are not perfect? To admit you are wrong?”

Ouch. I didn’t want to answer that question out loud.

We stopped for another light. He looked at me. I looked at him, trying to smile, but it felt so fake.

“Okay,” I spit out. “I am angry. I am angry at you. I am angry about this morning. I am angry.”

“Well,” he laughed. “Now don’t you feel better?”

Tears sprang to my eyes. Not with him laughing at me. No, I now felt like a failure.

He took my hand. “Do you know what? I love you when you are stubborn and don’t apologize, and I love you when you do. But it is so much easier to love you when you admit you are human and admit your faults. When you admit you are angry, when you really are angry. Just be honest. With yourself and me.”

 

How pride in a relationship affects  the relationships negatively, and why. 

 

Some conversations are tuning points.

Some conversations make us think and then come to new truth.

Some conversations we will remember in the future at just the right time.

This was one of those conversations.

I had always thought of myself as an apologizer. I don’t know how many times I had been told by my mother growing up, “Tell your sister you are sorry. Apologize to your brother.” And I had. I had always said the words, even if I had not always meant them.

But I had also been the perfect child in our family of six kids. The one where mom would say, “Why can’t you be like your sister?” and point to me.  Because I worked so had to do the right thing, I ended up apologizing a lot less than my always-in-trouble older brother and independent-and who-cares younger sister.

Yes, I grew up thinking I was related to Mary Poppins. “Practically perfect in every way.”

And when I grew older and time had passed, I realized that my mom was very prideful. I don’t ever remember her apologizing. And I had adopted more of her attitude than was good for me.

As I thought over the next months, and even years, about why it was so hard for me to apologize, to admit I was wrong, I came back to the same thing. My pride was tripping me up. Causing me to stumble and keeping me from confessing.

Pride of wanting to be right.

Pride of wanting to defend my actions. (After all, my reasons were so good.)

Pride of wanting to appear almost perfect.

Pride of what others would think.

Pride of exposing the truth to myself and others.

Pride of appearing weak.

Pride of admitting fault.

My pride was a stumbling block and affected my relationships. Because one thing pride likes to do, is lie. Pride lies all sorts of convincing lies. Lies that keep us from the truth. From perusing love. From abundant grace.  From growth and change. From deeper relationships. Pride is supposed to keep us from pain, but it doesn’t. Pride weaves elaborate lies that we tend to believe. Lies that in the end extract harsher consequences because of the tangle of deceit we create.

Pride can negatively affect relationships. Learn 4 ways to slay pride and the fears that drive it.Some lies of pride we believe that hinder our relationships:

 

Others wont’s like/love us if they knew the truth.

Hide. Never tell. It is safer.

Forgiveness is never free. We must work to earn our forgiveness.

Confessing makes us indebted to the person.

Asking forgiveness is admitting guilt and a sign of weakness.

Come on. Technically we are not guilty. Look for a loophole.

Don’t admit guilt unless we are 100% wrong. 96% or even 5% does not count.

We may not be forgiven, so why bother.

The other person screwed up too. Let them confess first.

Forgiveness is over rated.

Confessing may ruin us.

These lies have no truth in them. Satan wants us to believe these lies because then we will walk in fear, and not in the light of forgiveness. Because then we will walk in the same old rut, and not newness and change. Because it will cut us off from community and help. Because when we are consumed with guilt and shame our eyes remain focused on our self, not on a God who redeems us, loves us, and pours abundant grace on our souls.

Pride is one of the main culprits that hinders our relationships with others. It is our pride that causes us to defend our actions. Justify and explain why we are in the right and turn and blame them for their wrong doing. Pride separates us from others. It causes us to lie to them and our self. It keeps us from doing the right thing in the relationship. It stops us from pursuing reconciliation, compromise, and forgiveness. Pride holds onto our pain and then we in turn lash out in pain.

Often, we know we are wrong, but it is our pride that keeps us from doing the right thing.

Pride can negatively affect relationships. Learn 4 ways to slay pride and the fears that drive it.How to deal with pride in a relationship; tips for chipping away the stumbling block of pride:

 

1. Strive for humility. Humility is seeing our self and God as we both really are. He is the only perfect one. We are the sinful one. And yet God want to have a relationship with us. He wants to parent us. Love us. Give us all sorts of good gifts. Call us beloved. When we realize that we are dependent on God and his forgiveness and grace (which he freely gives), that creates in us a desire to change and grow.

2. Take responsibility. It is so much easier than explaining why we didn’t really do something everyone knows we really did. Making excuses that make no sense, or trying to argue that it was really was someone else’s fault is just plain nonsense. Stop stepping away and instead take responsibility. People will be relieved, and our trust ratings will soar.

3. Just do it. Practice apologizing; it will become easier. Start with little things. Move to bigger things. Or do it the other way. Once you have confessed a big thing, other confessions may seem easier.

I remember the day I confessed to a big thing (Yes, I said the words out loud that I was not perfect!) My heart was racing, my palms sweaty. All the spit in my mouth had turned to dust bunnies. I knew my voice would crack. I knew my world would fall apart. But I did it. I squeaked out the words. And guess what? I survived. The world did not collapse. My heart kept beating. And of course, no one died of surprise. They already knew it. And still loved me.

I kept confessing. And it got easier.

The same will happen for us if we keep apologizing when we need to. The silly thing is, when we confess our wrong doing, we are usually not surprising anyone. Often everyone sees we need to confess before we realize it. If we have yelled at the family, they all know we yelled at them. There is no surprise when we say we should not have yelled at them and ask their forgiveness. Often there is just gratitude from them that we took responsibility for our actions, and now they can stop telling us we were wrong.

4. Keep it Simple. Forget the perfect words. Just say: “I am sorry for  – – – -, please forgive me.”

Remember, if we justify or make excuses, then we are no longer apologizing. “I am sorry I hurt your feelings, but you need to be nicer to me,” does not qualify. When we add a “but,” we are often justifying and blaming them. Saying, “I am sorry you feel that way,” is also not an apology. It is really telling them that their feelings are wrong.

After we say we are sorry, we can also offer some sort of restitution or help, if appropriate. “I know I didn’t mow the lawn like I said I would. Can I now clean the bathroom for you?”

 

Remembering what’s important.

 

I can’t say that I don’t still let my pride get the best of me. I do. But my husband was right. We are easier to love when we acknowledge we are human. When we admit our mistakes. 

It has taken me a long time, but I have learned that despite my aversions to it, confession is good for my soul. It helps restore relationships, keeps pride in check, stop the blaming and justifying of my actions, and passes grace and forgiveness out to others and myself.

So, go ahead.

Confess when necessary.

Apologize quickly.

Abundant grace awaits.

Pride can negatively affect relationships. Learn 4 ways to slay pride and the fears that drive it.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

 


If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the discussion: What lies of pride do you believe?

Pride can negatively affect relationships. Learn 4 ways to slay pride and the fears that drive it.May link up at Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Pride can negatively affect relationships. Learn 4 ways to slay pride and the fears that drive it.

 

The Important Thing is Getting There

 

Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.Last week I drove to Mississippi to visit my sister. I pass mile after mile of unplanted farmland. Slice across and down the state. Crisscross the corner of another state. Cross the bridge and drive over the Huckleberry Finn River, which is overflowing its banks. I touch Tennessee. I am on I-55 heading into Memphis.

I have been traveling since about 9 AM and now it is about 3:30PM. A podcast is playing in the background and I am confident and relaxed. Maybe to confident. I have driven this way before.

Stop and go traffic welcomes me at Memphis. Not the warm Southern greeting I was hoping for. I grip the steering wheel a little tighter. Nervousness tingles my spine.

Even though I fought this kind of traffic for years in Seattle, I dislike these driving conditions. My Worry-O-Meter rises, and my sweat glands awaken.

I inch along, top out at 27 MPH, then back to a stop.

At this point I should have turned the podcast off, but I was to the exciting point. Prying my hands off the steering wheel would have also taken too much effort. So, it continued.

I followed the car ahead of me, feeling like a lemming with no exit.

I was concentrating so hard on staying in one piece and remaining calm when some car zipped in front of me, leaving me a whopping three inches to stop, that I forgot where I was going.

You ever do that? You stop and can’t remember where your body was taking you or why? You are heading into the living room, but why? You are at the grocery store, but for what?

Hopefully it is not only me.

But there I was concentrating on surviving this traffic and getting through Memphis, that I forgot where I was going and I not thinking ahead to what road I needed to be on. Yup, I forgot I needed to exit right to stay on I-55 and get myself out of Elvis Town.

Suddenly the Interstate divides and I follow it to the left. I wonder where I am. I start watching road signs. They say I am on I-44. Hummm. Maybe I-44 turns into I-55. Maybe I-44 is also I-55.

I start wondering if I am on the right road. It is now 4:15 and Memphis has been taking a lot longer to get through than I remember.

Miles pass, and I realize that I am not on the right road.  I work my way to the left lane. Weaving through the slow-going traffic.

I exit, stop the podcast, and turn on the speaking map lady that lives in my phone.

Turns out if I get back on I-44 and keep going the direction I was, I will get to my sister’s house by 7:30. Ugg.

I get back on the road. By now the traffic has cleared a little bit and I am able to get above 30 MPH. Then I notice a sign, “Downtown Memphis next exit.”

I read it once. Then twice, thinking I read it wrong. Nope. Even though I passed downtown Memphis an hour ago, here I am passing it again. Now how did that happen, I wonder?

And then I realize, I have circled the whole city. Taken the scenic loop around the city. And lo-and-behold, in ten minutes when I pass the I-55 exit for the second time, this time I take it. No way I am going to loop around again.

Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.By the time the suburbs are behind me and farmland is stretching out in neat rows left and right of me, I am laughing at myself. At my scenic detour. At my over confidence. At my lack of attention.

But you know what?

I arrived at my destination. And without any further mishaps, which is a small miracle in itself.

 

Life has detours. Embrace the detours. 

 

Because I will let you in on a little secret. Things like this happen to me on long road trips with just myself. Not every time. But with enough regularity, that I just have to laugh and enjoy the extra unplanned scenery.

I arrived a bit later than planned. Later than my sister planned. But all was good.

Because this happens. My road trips have detours. I end up seeing more than I had planned. Arriving a little later than planned.

And this happens not just on road trips, but in real life. I am constantly having detours in life. I look around and I wonder, how did I get here? Where am I? Or, where was I headed.

I need to remember not to be surprised. Detours are a part of life. They happen. And more often then not.

Don’t worry. Just repoint your steering wheel and get back on track.

Don’t get embarrassed. Upset. Worried. Angry. It doesn’t help. Just use your energy to get back on the right path.

And here’s the secret. Look around. You are not the only one that gets stuck in a detour or heads the wrong way. Circles the same real-estate. Or wonders just where you are lost at. It happens to everyone. So, you are in good company.

It is not so much that you took a detour that is important. It is that you arrive at your destination.

Know what your destination is. Remember, you will get derailed. When this happens, just readjust your direction and head once again for your destination.

Do it again. And again. Keep going. You will eventually get there.

Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep remembering what’s important.

Theresa

If you need some weekly encouragement and hope, tied up with some humor? Subscribe and join the journey. Life is sweeter when we walk alongside one another.


Join the Discussion: What detours have you been on?

Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.May link up at Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory);  Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), Lori Schumaker (#Moments of Hope), Crystal Storms (#HeartEncouragement), Arabah Joy (#Grace & Truth).

Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.Detours are a part of life. They just happen. So, remember your destination.