A Mom’s Failure: Truth and Lies

Failure! I heard it scream in my heart. Failure! You’re leaving your kids with unmet needs. You’re incapable of getting your baby to stay asleep. You’re pushing your oldest through his schoolwork. You’re doing too much housework. You’re not working out enough. Failure! I heard it threatening my identity when I didn’t hear the phone the fifth time my husband called, and I didn’t hear the doorbell the three times he rang it. Failure! It’s all my fault he’s late for work.

Each day, one moment melts into another as I get lost in the swirl and chaos of five little boys age eight and under. The oldest three need help with school. The youngest depends upon me to meet his most basic biological needs (which, for anyone who has ever had experience with an infant knows, takes a lot of time!)

The fourth one—stuck in the middle—well, where does he fit in? I try to find things for him to play with, watch, or do while I help the oldest and the youngest. (Shoot, I’m probably letting him watch too many movies right now—failure!) And somewhere in here, someone has to make meals, feed kids, wipe bums, change diapers, clean dishes, clean clothes, bathe bodies, and wipe snotty noses. Forget momma getting a shower. Who has time for that?

I’ve had experience with these emotions before. They’re nothing new. I have heard that word “failure.” It is all too familiar. But I’ve come to learn to see it for what it is—a lie. And I’ve come to see it for what it also is—the truth. Let me explain.

The Lie

I know the feelings of failure must be a lie. My kids are alive. They are well fed. They are hearing the Word of God on a regular basis. They are getting hugs and kisses, and (for the most part) plenty of sleep. The oldest ones are learning reading, writing, arithmetic—and are growing. My house is not a pig sty. Most days we have clean clothes to wear—and I get a shower at least once a week! (Okay, so maybe it’s a bit more frequent than that.)

All of this signifies that I’m not “failing” on a routine basis. That’s why this is a lie. There’s only one who wants me to feel a failure in this way. The enemy.

Jesus reveals the heart of the deceiver when He states, “When he [Satan] lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Why would Satan plant these lies in my heart? Because he wants me to give up. He’s threatened by the possibility of my raising five boys for the glory of their Creator. So if he can trap me in discouragement, he’ll have me thinking it’s not worth it. If I’m convinced I cannot do it, I may give up and decrease the amazing impact my boys could have on the world around them.

My heart finds it easy to rest in this disillusionment when childrearing isn’t going as smoothly as I think it should. When repeated attempts at discipline aren’t resulting in the fruit I would like to see, I am encouraged by Paul’s words, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

The Truth

Yet the truth of the matter is that this word failure is, in fact, very true. I have yet to meet a woman who can do it all. The perfect house, the perfect kids, the perfect decisions that please everyone around her, the perfect body, etc. I am no exception to the rule. There’s only One who wants me to feel a failure in this way. My Savior.

Why? Because until I can admit my inadequacies, I cannot accept His all-sufficiency. Because until I can admit my weakness, I cannot grasp His strength. Because until I can confess my foolishness, I cannot understand His wisdom.

Paul comments on this very thing in a time of great personal weakness.

But he [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:9–10).

It is only when I realize my failings that I can begin to trust God’s sovereignty. It’s only when I come to Him with empty hands that He can fill them. His grace is sufficient. His strength is made perfect in my weakness—so it is that when I am weak, I am strong.

The Conclusion of the Matter

I am a failure. I cannot do it. But Christ in me is more than enough. When I live out of that truth, I see that He will do exceedingly more than I could ask or think. My God is enough. His presence in me is enough. And He makes my failures into more than enough to be used for His glory!

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Eph. 3:20–21).

About the Author

Hannah Norton

Hannah Norton

Hannah Norton is a registered nurse and photographer. She has a passion to see women learn to walk in the freedom of the gospel, treating their bodies as the temple of Christ, and producing fruit to the glory of God. … read more …

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