You know those days where nothing goes right? The kind of days where you are out of sorts from the minute you wake up and you never really get your feet under you before the day starts unraveling?
Those are the second-guess-everything-about-yourself-as-a-mom kind of days… The kind of days where at the end of them you sit on your dirty kitchen floor and spray the whipped cream directly into your mouth while you cry about the number of times you yelled at your kids?
Yeah, you’re not the only one who has those kinds of days.
The reality is that no one has it together 100% of the time. Since our children have the front row seat to our lives so much of the time, they are the ones who will have a front row view to all of our imperfections and weaknesses. The weight of that realization can be crippling if we let it.
HOWEVER, since it is absolutely guaranteed that we will make mistakes and handle situations badly on occasion, and since it is guaranteed that our children will be watching, it is equally important that we make the most of our own shortcomings and make them count. Having days where we feel like failures doesn’t make US failures – it makes us human, and they can provide the most beautiful opportunities for grace and growth if we let them.
Below are seven purposes I’ve found in the midst of my failures.
1. Our Failures Keep Us Humble
Earlier on in my mom journey I found that it was so easy to look at other moms and think of how I would do things differently if I was in their shoes. Nevermind that I had never actually walked in their shoes… I totally knew how I would react if I was in their shoes and I felt confident that I would do it better.
Life has a way of humbling us doesn’t it? I have now realized that I have no room to boast in my ability as a mom. For every day that I have it so together and feel like I’m super mom, I am guaranteed to have at least three days that bring me right back down to humble-ground. I have now realized that every good day we have is just a gift of God and I am thankful for it and just try to enjoy it for what it is and as long as it lasts.
2. Our failures teach us not to judge others & to give grace generously.
Going off of that first point, since I have seasons that have just downright humbled me, I have now learned that I dare not judge anyone else.
Just as I have had seasons where I didn’t react to situations and circumstances as well as I would hope to, I recognize that other moms have those times too. I also recognize that I have never actually walked in that mom’s shoes and I have no idea that I would handle her situation any better than she is – in fact, I may handle it worse if I was thrown into it! I also recognize that I’m only seeing a snipet of her story and there is probably a lot that has happened/is happening behind the scenes that I have no clue about.
Just as I have been so thankful to receive grace in my hard seasons, I have learned to give grace to other moms liberally because the truth is that I just don’t know the reality of their situation and I haven’t ever walked in their shoes.
3. Our failures teach us to depend on God.
I am so far from perfect. My mood changes faster than the weather. The quality of my parenting is subject to the strength of my coffee more often than I’d like to admit. But I have the comfort of knowing that I have a Heavenly Father who is perfect and is consistent and is present to help me when I ask him.
I am always amazed how much more stable, present, and consistent I am able to be when I make a priority of connecting with him daily.
I am reminded of John 15:5 where Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
My own mistakes and imperfections highlight how much I need him daily. Isn’t it wonderful that we have a God who isn’t dependent on the strength of his coffee? Isn’t it wonderful that we have a God who delights in us even when we are imperfect? Isn’t it wonderful that we have a God who invites us to abide in him and uses our own imperfections to showcase all of His wonderful attributes if we let him?
It is BECAUSE I am made painfully aware of my own shortcomings sometimes that I am able to see the stark contrast between my own human nature and the wonderful work that He is doing in me.
4. Our failures give us the opportunity to learn.
I have always been hard on myself. I have always struggled with giving myself grace. I have always expected myself to live up to an unrealistically high standard. Over the past year I have begun to realize something about the nature of God, though, that has begun to shift my own expectations of myself.
My youngest son is just learning to walk. I know that this is a new skill for him. I know that he is still working on his ability to control his muscles and maintain his balance. I know that for him to take one or two steps at this stage is a huge accomplishment.
When he stands up on his wobbly legs and tries to take a step, I don’t stand back from a distance and critique his form or get upset when he falls. I get down on his eye level and I hold out my hands and I paste the kind of over-exaggerated grin on my face that only a baby finds appealing and I say “Come on! You can do it! Come on! Walk to me!” When he topples I pick him right back up and say in that sing-song mommy voice, “Come on! Try again! You can do it! Move those feet!” I am delighted with every bit of progress he makes and I celebrate with him.
I have begun to realize that that’s probably a lot closer to how God sees me than the view I’ve always held. When I’m learning something new – like how to be a mom to three kids (let’s be real – I’ve been a mom for 5 years but will it ever not be new? There’s always new seasons and new challenges to face), he’s not looking for my imperfections and waiting to circle them in red ink – he’s celebrating my progress and ready to gently correct my mistakes and teach me how to do them better next time.
5. Our failures give us the opportunity to model how to fix our own mistakes in front of our children.
Since my children have a front row seat to so many of my less-than-stellar moments, it gives me ample opportunity to use that to teach them important life lessons. The reality is that they won’t be perfect. I don’t want to create this illusion in front of them that I am perfect because the reality is that they won’t be perfect either.
They can learn more from me being transparent about my mistakes and modeling how to apologize and ask for forgiveness than they would learn from me if I actually was perfect.
I lose my temper sometimes. I get irritable sometimes. I disagree with my spouse over silly things sometimes. Since my kids are with me all the time, they see it all. I dare not carry on without addressing my own bad behavior in front of them, conveying the message to them that it’s not okay to act like that and move on without righting my own wrong.
When I behave badly, I take time to get myself composed, then I explain to them that my behavior was not okay and I apologize and ask them to forgive me. I want them to learn that everyone makes mistakes in life and that how a person fixes their own mistakes can show just as much or more character than if they had never made the mistake to begin with.
6. Our failures give us the opportunity to teach our children how to extend grace to others.
The truth is that my children will encounter difficult people in this world. Their future roommates, co-workers, friends, in-laws, or spouses will have bad days and will react in ways that are frustrating or even hurtful, and it won’t necessarily be my children’s fault. They will need to learn how to recognize the fact that other peoples’ bad reactions are not always about them. If they can learn to recognize that sometimes the bad reactions of other people are a reflection of the stressors or even emotional baggage in that person’s life, they will be positioned to have much healthier relationships. If they can learn how to take responsibility for their own actions, reactions, and perspectives and not take the bad reactions of others personally, and learn how to give all kinds of grace to those who need it, they will be so much further ahead relationally than most of their peers.
When I react to circumstances badly and I apologize for my bad behavior and explain to them that it wasn’t about them at all, but rather a result of my own stressors and lack of regulating my emotions adequately, it builds the foundation to learn those more complex lessons about relationships when they get older.
7. Our failures give us the opportunity to point our children to the One who is always perfect and who never makes mistakes.
Just as my own mistakes give me the opportunity to depend on God, my own mistakes also give me the opportunity to model my dependence on God to my children. If I open the door of transparency and talk with them about my own shortcomings and imperfections, and also talk with them about the God who IS perfect, it provides a beautiful opportunity for me to point them to Him. I will never be a perfect mom. My husband will never be a perfect dad. My children will not grow up to be perfect people, either. But the truth is that they have a Heavenly Father who IS perfect and who is able to help them in their times of need. My own mistakes give me the perfect opportunity to direct them towards Him.
We all make mistakes. Mistakes don’t make US failures, they make us human, and they provide beautiful opportunities for growth if we let them. If we are not careful, we can focus on all of our mistakes and short comings and allow them to drive us into despair, BUT if we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and we take our mistakes and turn them into growth opportunities, they can turn into something even more beautiful than perfection ever could be.
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