Cattails, Rabbit Trails, and Thistlefish: Of Failure and a Mighty Fortress: Where to go when you just can't keep it all together

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Of Failure and a Mighty Fortress: Where to go when you just can't keep it all together

We all know what it's like to feel failure.
Such a mixture of dread and disappointment and "I knew it," but all horrifically pointed at yourself. No one else to blame and you know it.

And the enemy wastes no time in telling you "you shouldn't have even tried. I told you you couldn't do it. I told you that wasn't meant for you. You just don't have it in you."

Sometimes it's something small, like saying something without thinking. Wasting time on social media and falling behind on work. Forgetting to put the leftovers in the fridge so they were on the counter all night and you have to throw them out (that's not just me, right?)

And sometimes it's something big, like saying something really hurtful to your spouse, or falling short of a big scary goal at work, or putting yourself out there publicly.

It doesn't matter if it's big or small, the feeling sucks.

My failures.

I've had some days like that recently. Yeah, days. Not moments. Days.

Days where I know I had fallen so so short of my own expectations of myself and what my family should expect of me. My emotions would get the best of me, or my tiredness, or my hunger. Or I would explode after the build up of little things that I should have let go of.

I noticed this the other day after another week that ended poorly - me frustrated, and my husband confused. Why did this keep happening?

Even when I'm trying to apologize, make it better, or do better... it's still self-focused because all I'm trying to do is draw attention to how hard I'm trying to be a better person.

But when failure happens...

Moral of the story: I'm a sinner and will always be selfish.
Good news: I'm not the solution.


I can't fix it, I can't overcome my selfishness, my emotions will always be more than I can handle, and I will disappoint myself and the people around me for the rest of my life. No matter how hard I try, I will never be the solution.

The solution is actually way easier.

"I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies." Psalm 18:3

The temptation to be selfish. The ever-present hurricane of emotions. The justification I can always find in my mind that I have a right to respond a certain way because "that comment was over the line and he knows it!"
It's always going to be there. It's called the Flesh. But it's not the only option.

I find myself thinking that I'm doing this on my own, that I'm supposed to do it on my own. I'm not facing a tragic situation or an addiction or a lost spouse or "something difficult"... I should be able to fight all of this on my own.

But I'm not called to.

"The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalm 18:2

I'm not even called to be my own defender. I'm called to call upon the Rock.

Of Orcs and King David

David knew what it was like to need fortress, to need deliverance and rescue and safety. He was chased, stalked, attacked, surrounded, outnumbered and hunted (by family!)... He lived in caves, fearing for his life, far from home and family.

Can you imagine the feeling of arriving at a fortress, a refuge, a safe place, a stronghold?

I think of Helm's Deep in Lord of the Rings, and the anticipation felt by the Rohirrim as they ran from the Orcs. The hope they had in the walls between them and Saruman's orc army.

My emotions, my selfish tendencies, my conflicting thoughts, the lies in my head... they often feel like pesky, slimy orcs. Or maybe even like David's relentless stalkers.

And what I need more than "to do better," is I need a fortress. A safe place. A stronghold. A Deliverer who fights for me. Who says, "You don't even have to answer to them. Rest, trust, abide. They have me to answer to, and I am a strong fortress, a mighty wall between you and your attackers."

This is my new challenge. To start trying less, fighting less, beating myself up less... and abide more. Rest more. Trust more. Like a daughter with a Warrior King Father.

"Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
hide me in the shadow of Your wings." Psalm 17:8

This is my prayer. Not that I would "do better," but that I would be found in the shadow beneath His wings, so close to Him that no lies, or crazy emotions, or slimy orcs could touch me.

Daughters can't fail at being daughters

If you're feeling tired, or feeling like all you've done is fail... like you're weak, and worthless, and will never be anything more... take a break. Be a daughter. You can't fail at being a daughter. Know that God is a mighty fortress between you and the fiery darts of the enemy. He is a timely deliverer. And He's just asking you trust that He'll do what He says He will do: be your refuge.

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