Recently my weeks of potty training efforts came up in a conversation.
You know, the time that we had just moved and then a few weeks later, entered into about 6 incredibly intense weeks of working hard to teach new bodily skills and trying everything; lots of wet sheets and poop on the floor more times than I can count.
It wasn’t that bad every day of it. There were days of “getting it” and no accidents, but it had certainly taken a turn for the worst/terrible/very bad by the end.
And when I spoke about those weeks, I said in passing that I had failed.
I didn’t even think about it.
It just came out of my mouth, before I could even realize that what was what my heart believed.
But there it was, my heart believed that potty training had been a failure.
And then I had to pause, because I felt a catch in my spirit, as if Jesus was asking me if it truly was a failure.
In that moment, as I listened to his voice, I knew I wasn’t speaking out of what was true.
I didn’t fail at potty training. My daughter didn’t either. I kept getting new information as we went on. I made the best decisions with the information I had at the time. It seemed like she was ready, so we tried. It seemed like she was getting it, so we continued. Some things weren’t working, so we tried new things and when those didn’t work, we tried some others. And when I was out of things to try and when Jesus told me it was okay to stop and confirmed that in ways I couldn’t ignore, I stopped.
That isn’t failing.
That is brave and obedient and ANYTHING but failing.
Failing would have been continuing when it was clearly not working. (4 wet bed incidents + 1 poop on the floor in the same day after 6 weeks of potty training is not success by anyone’s definition.)
Failing would have been continuing just to prove something.
Failing would have been continuing at my own expense, at L’s expense, at our family’s expense.
Failing would have been ignoring that new information, ignoring Jesus’ voice and trying to make something work that wasn’t.
Failing would have been refusing the grace being offered to me, even if that grace felt a little bit like giving up initially.
I find my heart and in turn, my language shifting about what is failure and what is brave.
Feelings don’t always match what is really true.
I know the specifics change all the time.
It might be potty training in this season, but I recognize the feelings of this fight to believe what is real failure instead of just what feels like failure.
Real failure is the striving and the proving.
Real failure is not resting and pausing, because I want to show that I’m enough.
Real failure is ignoring my body and heart and soul’s own cries for help.
Real failure is not listening to Jesus when he speaks to me.
Real failure is not saying yes to grace that is freely offered, that is mine for the taking.
It isn’t a failure to struggle.
It isn’t a failure to not be able to make something work.
It might feel like giving up, but could be anything but. It might be the bravest thing you could do to name your fears, to name your struggles, and invite Jesus into them.
I have nothing to prove.
I don’t have to be enough, when Jesus is.
It is a lie that things done for Jesus are ever wasted. Nothing done for him is ever a waste.
I don’t claim to know all the way why we potty trained for 6 weeks only to be back in pull-ups now. But I know I’m grateful.
I’m grateful for the reminder that Jesus meets me here.
When everything I try isn’t enough. When I’m exhausted and empty. When I feel like a failure.
And he isn’t angry or upset or disappointed with me.
He’s next to me and offering to help. He’s offering to fill me where I am empty. He is offering to share his strength with me when I have nothing left. He’s offering me a better life, one of freedom and rest instead of one of pressure and not measuring up.
I love these words from Jennie Allen, which seem to capture the beauty and freedom and JOY of accepting this grace.
I pray that you would catch a glimpse of a God who adores you, who wants to be in the mess with you, who will never leave you, who is for you, who has all you need, even–no, especially–on the very worst days. I pray that you would rest and you would lean into Him for that rest. I pray that you wouldn’t just rest in your eternal provision as a part of God’s family but you would rest in the everyday provision He is already dishing out everywhere you look. (Nothing to Prove, 140)
And for me, that everyday provision is a pull-ups and enjoying my daughter in ways I didn’t know I was missing, and the tremendous grace of having nothing to prove.
I don’t think it was an accident that Nothing to Prove was the first book I read in the new year. I had to slow my heart and savor each chapter instead of gobbling up this life-giving truth in one gulp. Jennie Allen is a kind and honest writer, a good story-teller and a right-next-to-you sort of girl. She isn’t trying to impress or to show off how put together she is; quite the opposite in fact. She’s trying to point you to the truth of who Jesus is and the freedom he offers from all the pressure to be enough. Simply put, I loved this book. I loved how she speaks practically and deeply about the pressure to be enough and what it looks like to really BELIEVE the truth that we have nothing to prove. She points to Jesus again and again and again, and it was the food my soul needed to hear. A for me.
*Blogging for Books & Waterbrook Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255
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