Do you ever feel like a failure – as a mom, a homeschooler, a Christian? I have to say that I have felt like a failure in all three of those areas many times over the years!
I remember as a teenager, looking at my mom and thinking that she had it all together, and never had any problems. I looked forward to the time when I would be an adult, and like her, be a good Christian wife and mom, who never struggled or had any problems being what I ought to be. However, 30 years later with 8 of my own kids, guess what? I STILL hadn’t arrived!
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I still struggled with being a patient Mom at times, or trying to deal with my kids in my own wisdom. I often felt like I was doing less than a great job at homeschooling. More important, there were times when I went through spiritual struggles, and when God showed me those areas I got discouraged and thought, “I feel like a failure. I just keep messing up.”
One day the Lord spoke to me about those thoughts, and helped me realize that as long as I’m growing as a Christian, He is going to be showing me areas where I am failing – areas where I need His help, and things that I need to work on. That is a GOOD thing! It means I am still hearing His voice, and my heart is soft. I don’t ever want to get to the place where I feel that I have arrived, or to the point that I am no longer feeling God’s gentle promptings in areas where I need to grow and depend more on Him.
How to respond to feelings of failure:
1. Realize you are always going to have areas where you need to grow.
One of the first things that comes to light when you become a parent, or when you begin to home school, are your character flaws!
2. Don’t give up.
Think of the words in Proverbs 24:16:
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.
It’s okay to fall, but we need to keep getting back up.
3. Learn through your failures.
Mistakes are stepping stones to growth. However, we have to CHOOSE to learn through our failures and mistakes. Rather than get discouraged, let your failures cause you to recognize your need for God’s help.
4. Encourage yourself.
In I Samuel 30:6 it says, “but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”
Learn how to encourage yourself. This is SO important, because we are no use to our family or those we are serving, if we’re discouraged. Discouragement will keep you from doing what you should, and will keep you from being an encouragement to others.
How to encourage yourself:
1. Don’t carry the load alone.
2. Grab those resources that are encouraging to you, and read or listen to them.
3. If fatigue is part of the problem, lighten up on things, and rest; don’t deal with those things that seem like problems when you’re tired!
4. Get spiritual encouragement through the Bible, prayer, and uplifting music.
I love Psalm 139 where I am reminded that God knows all about me, and He loves me!
Also, I have been encouraged through prayer.
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2
5. Keep a JOY FILE.
Anytime someone writes you a note of encouragement, put it in that special joy file, then pull those notes out when you need encouragement.
I remember a time when I was feeling like a really bad mom, and was discouraged. I went to my JOY FILE and as I was reading through some of the notes, I found just what I needed. It was a card a friend had written to me a few months earlier, thanking me for my example and encouragement of someone who loved her kids, and was a good mom. Even though I didn’t FEEL like a good mom, as I re-read this note it motivated me to try to do better because someone was watching my example. I didn’t want to let her or my kids down by getting discouraged and giving up.
6. Encourage others.
This will help take your focus off yourself and your problems. Also, more people long for a kind word, than we’ll ever know. Let’s be the ones to encourage them!
Next time you feel like “a failure”, thank God that He is still working in your life and showing you areas where you need to grow. Encourage yourself, and ask God to help you to keep learning and growing!