Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve experienced an epic number of failures. I write about reading the Bible in a year and then have my worst Bible-reading year ever. I write about prayer and can’t seem to discipline myself to pray. Simple living–I haven’t done half bad on that one, but I haven’t done more than half good, either.
I mean every word that I write. I know what I should do, how to implement change, how to grow and improve. I just…don’t. Not always. Not consistently. Not diligently. I get distracted, discouraged, bogged down, and I struggle to get things back in order. In my head, it all works out–spiritual disciplines, schedules, Bible reading, community service, anything else that might help me to grow in Christ. It’s beautiful. I know it’s what I want more than anything in the world, to live what I believe, to be a beacon to the world that screams of Jesus’ love and the truth of His Word.
And yet, reality hits, and I lose myself in Facebook. I watch Netflix some evenings until I can’t see straight or start the day jumping into my novel writing and ignore my Bible reading. I fail.
I follow a few bloggers who are young women. And all of them seem to have it all together. I wonder if they grow at a steady pace or if they are sprinters like me who run, walk, stop, turn the other direction, get distracted by flowers and clouds, then run again, mostly in the right direction, and then do it all over again. Shouldn’t I be past this? If the young women are flourishing, what’s wrong with this older woman that she can’t make things work?
It makes me tired. Some days life is so wearying. Failing. Calling on God for help. Dropping my burdens in His arms and then scooping them back into my own so I can fail again. Over and over. A seesaw of chaos that never seems to get better.
This week I was faced with yet another failure. Earlier this year I forgot an obligation I had at church, and someone had to cover for me. I promised myself I would do better. So, last weekend I got things ready for church the night before. I looked at the volunteer list. I was going to do Sunday right. I got there on time, not too early or late (now that we live so far in the country I’m either way too early or late, so to get there on time is an accomplishment.) I was pretty pleased with myself.
Except I had failed. I had somehow missed one obligation again, and someone had to cover for me. I wanted to leave. I was sad and angry with myself because I tried so hard and it wasn’t enough. How hard could it be to read a calendar and remember what it says for a day or two? Apparently it’s harder than one might think.
Failure. Feels like the default setting sometimes. I fail friends, family, everyone. And yet, however frustrated I get, however often I blow it, there is hope. Jesus always hands us hope. I am so very thankful for that.
We’re told in the Bible to abide, to be branches to Jesus’ vine. Cling. I may fail in a lot of ways, but I can still cling. I can hold on even when everything around me makes no sense. In light of losing a brother. In light of a chronic illness. In light of my husband’s employment struggles. In light of being off schedule in Bible reading or misreading a calendar ten times. Sometimes the only thing I do is cling. Is that enough?
The Bible promises Jesus is working in me, that I’m improving and He won’t give up until I’m the way He wants me to be. I hope I don’t have to stick around in this realm until He’s finished, or I will have to live to be three or four hundred years old, and I’m way too tired for that. But I trust that if I cling, if I abide, then the failures aren’t held against me. Jesus opens his arms and picks me up and says “Try again. No stumble will ever be the one where I leave you on the ground as a failure.”
So I try again. Maybe everyone around me does better than I do, but that doesn’t matter. Jesus only asks me to abide, to obey, to trust. To cling. And that I can do. He does the rest, and I trust He will make my clinging into something pleasing to Him, something beautiful, even when I fail.