I am a teacher. I have the best job in the whole wide world. (With the exception of being a Mother of course.)
Parent teacher conference days send a chill up my spine every time. I sit in the middle of the big cold gym in the middle of a month way too far away from spring break. Parent sits across the table- the table I have covered in neat stacks of student data, strengths, weaknesses, goals and dreams.- She states “Should you really be teaching?” Just like that my world crumbles. Shattering and falling all around me, it takes shards of my skin and soul with it on its way down to the ground. She has exposed me in my doubts, inadequacies, and utter unworthiness because the truth is;
I am a failure.
Without God I am a failure.
An important change in syntax makes a world of difference, does it not?
But God… I have heard this is by far the most beautiful and miraculous two words in all of Scripture. I am a failure …but God!
Simply understanding and forcing my heart to believe this simple truth changes how I deal with my heart when I am a failure.
But God… remember his grace.
I recently heard a message on Psalm 77. I don’t know about you, but often when I am discouraged, when I am full of all kinds of the feels I go to the Psalms. They remind me that it is ok to feel. They remind me that even great heroes of the faith struggled with fear, doubt, and feelings of failure. Psalm 77 starts like this:
“I cry aloud to God…” Yep, that was me. “God, why am I struggling so much? Why do I feel like such a failure? Am I worth anything at all?” Have you been there with the Psalmist and I? We lay in bed at night, we meditate and make diligent search… finally our “misery catches up with our mouth” and we cry aloud “Where are you God?!” Suddenly there is a change in attitude. I wonder how much time there is between the two sections of this Psalm because the change is so drastic! When I feel as though I am failing, I just want to do something. I want a three step program or a downloadable chart or a task so I might feel as though I am no longer a failure. But all the psalmist does to change his emotions was to change his meditations.
To change your emotions you must change your meditation.
“I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph.” Selah
He meditates on all the wonderful things that God is and did and does. He remembers his grace. Another way to deal with my foolish, failure-heart is to constantly remind it of truth. The truth that even when I feel failure I have been called to something bigger than my emotions.
I can’t, but I am called.
I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. No, don’t laugh, really I did. I struggled and pushed and strained toward that goal and was utterly rejected. I can still hear prospective medical schools laugh as they got to the health part of my application. No, I could not succeed in medical school, because I wasn’t called to medical school. What hard thing are you called to my friend? Are you unequipped, discouraged, sick of the fight? Me too most days we’re being honest here. One tiny verse I discovered in college I cling to with all of my being. My lifeline in the treacherous waters that turn my attention.
1 Thess 5:24
“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
He has called me to much hard. Balancing job, home, foster care and chronic conditions. Mama, student, friend- take heart. What he has called you to do he will be faithful to accomplish through you.
Here is one more thing to think about when you are dealing with your failures.
Tear down the idol of the seen.
I recently read something like this sentence and I have been meditating on it for weeks now. The state of my home does not reflect the state of my soul. As a mama, one who is far more addicted to social media than I should be, I get Instagram-envy hard core. Beautifully decorated homes with all the latest trends scroll before my eyes and I start to look around my tiny apartment full of memory-making mess and see very few of the latest décor trends. It’s pretty foolish, really, how much I think about it and how little it really matters.
The state of my home does not reflect the state of my soul.
The grades of my students do not measure my identity as a teacher.
The attitudes of my children do not reflect my ability as a mother.
The chronic pain and exhaustion raging through my body do not affect my worth as a woman.
These are the things I say to myself over and over each day as a sort of reflection reset. Crucifying the idol of the seen that I might gaze upon the unseen. Tearing down the idol of the seen to allow others to see God and give him the glory.
So, Mama sitting across the table – the table covered in neat stacks of student data, strengths, weaknesses, goals and dreams – No, I can’t, but God can. No, I can’t, but I am called. Because of these things, I am not a failure.