“I’m sorry baby girl, but mommy’s gotta disappoint you today.”
Those were the defeated words I uttered to my eager eleven-year-old daughter not too long ago. On that chilly Tuesday, I was already pretty beat from a full homeschool day when I made the reluctant decision to let her down.
On this particular day, we completed several read alouds, did a history lesson about life in the Wild West, studied the physics of rollercoasters, assessed copy work from Proverbs 3, read and discussed through 2 Chronicles 34, helped my first grader with phonics and plowed through another math lesson about rounding to the hundredth’s place. And just for time’s sake, I’ll skip the details of what else we covered that day.
Of course, between all that, I spent a good portion of my time chasing my toddler around. It has become my goal to stop her from practicing her newly acquired stair climbing skill. Not to mention, I also worked on various business affairs surrounding my first children’s book. And all that before 3:30pm!!
By the time my oldest arrived home from her school, this over stretched momma was emotionally, physically and mentally spent! But I had made a promise to take her to the library the night before. She’d been itching for the next book in a new series she’s gotten hooked on. And I had already broken my word the previous day.
My goal was to make this a quick library trip. I needed to return home within a reasonable amount of time so I could prep for the arrival of a couple my husband and I have been mentoring. Unfortunately, by the time we were ready for the library, we only had about an hour of wiggle room.
Quite honestly, I didn’t feel like keeping my word in this stressful moment. And as I corralled the big kids into the car and reached for a tot who wouldn’t let me put her shoes and coat on, I felt my anger rising. I wanted my oldest to step outside of her self-focused wants and see her struggling mom’s efforts and let me off the hook.
As we drove, turning corner after corner, a mixture of frustration and disappointment crept over me. It was at this very moment I broke my word for the second time in two days.
And just like that, a sinking feeling of failure washed over me. The feeling of being a sub-par mom stained my heart just a little deeper.
But in a curious way, as we headed homeward, I also felt an immense amount of relief. I was face to face with the limitations God had given me.
In truth, many of you reading this may never dare to admit it. But there are times we all operate as if God hasn’t placed limitations on our lives. In stark contrast to this world’s faulty values of being a boss, grinding all day and only sleeping when we’re dead, God has some pretty counter cultural truths about this very notion in His Word. I encourage you to soak in these verses that proclaim unshakeable truths about this great God of heaven.
We are finite, He is infinite (Psalm 8, 147:5; 2 Chronicles 2:6)
We are temporal, He is eternal (Psalm 103:15-17, Proverbs 8:23, Lamentations 5:19)
We are limited, He is all powerful (Psalm 73:26, Mark 10:27)
It’s true, it’s not cool at all to break promises to your kids. Believe me, I try very hard not to.
However, the reality is this wasn’t the first and it surely won’t be the last time I break a promise to my children (or to anyone else for that matter). It’s in these times of disappointment, failure and unmet expectations that I MUST point my children toward the One who is none of these things!
I love how the New Living Translation frames Ecclesiastes 3:11,
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”
As created beings, people yearn to know the eternal God.
He is unending and unchanging. God has marvelous works that we cannot begin to fathom!
What a big God He is!
My prayer is that my children will have a glimpse into how massive, how marvelous and how mind-blowing He is. Just one encounter with this all-powerful God can change their life’s trajectory for eternity! The same is true for you, too!
No matter how many times you have been let down, failed by life’s promises or disappointed by your deepest desires, God is able to handle that and more! I write this post today from a place of unshakeable confidence, peace and rest. Not in a flippant disregard for how I’ve failed my children. That does pain me.
However, I must not make my failures my focus. When I do, I begin to worship my failures instead of turning towards the One who died for every last one of them. Jesus Christ is able to uphold me. What’s more, he is more than capable to empower me to try again another day.
This post is for you if you identify as someone who seems to have failed time and time again, not quite able to “get it right.” Lift your head weary one. “Cease striving and know that [He] is God” (Psalm 46:10).
Or, if you can’t relate to the idea of having a string of mess ups. If you hold on to the idea that it’s been by sheer effort and determination that you’ve achieved all you hold dear, I write this post to you as well. Have you forgotten the words of Jesus in John 15:5? He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Dear branch, never forget, you need the Vine.
It may sound funny, but it is between these two extremes that I often fluctuate. And each time, I must re-center myself on the truth of God and who He has revealed himself to be in His written Word.
I encourage you to do the same. If you drift either to the right or to the left, you will soon find yourself clinging onto your next victory for a sense of pride or pushing your latest failure so far out of your mind that you forget it is God who never makes mistakes and has written your life’s story!
I pray you all experience unshakeable rest in the one true God-Man’s finished work on the cross. Your identity is found in Him and Him alone!
Glory be to God!
Thanks for reading!