**Quick announcement: The Kindle version of Between Life and Death will be discounted on Amazon from June 10th to 16th! Okay, now onto the post.**
I’ve been struggling with thoughts that I’m a failure.
Such ruminations aren’t new. For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with a (false) belief that I am unlovable and unworthy. For decades, I thought that love was something I needed to earn, to craft, with each line in a resume adding one more brick to the rickety scaffolding of my identity.
Study of the Bible has disavowed me of such lies, and shown me, by God’s grace, that my value resides not in what I accomplish, but in who God is, and who He has made me to be. I have worth, because I bear His image. I’m loved, lavishly, by the One who gave His own, beloved Son to adopt me as His child.
I know these truths, and most days, God’s word carries me through the worries and the anguish like a raft atop turbulent seas. And yet, in certain seasons, the doubts creep to the surface, the way fragments of shrapnel, long-forgotten, tunnel their way through to the skin. I cling to the truth, but the lies, grafted to my very bones, still fester. Sometimes, even the oldest of wounds, long-healed, begin to ache again.
The ache intensified today. The morning dawned with a flourish of burnished copper on the horizon, the sun spilling its rays through the leaves outside my window. But my first thought wasn’t God’s glory, or the magnificence of his creation. Rather, I perseverated on my own inadequacy.
You couldn’t get up and work out this morning? Really?
Who are you kidding, thinking homeschooling is the right thing for your kids? You’re going to ruin them.
What are you doing to help people? Does your existence even make a difference?
You’re going to disappoint everyone who’s supported you.
You’re not doing enough.
You’re wasting your life.
You’re a failure.
As the day wore on, the thoughts continued, one tumbling into the next like waves against the shore. I gathered the stack of books for our lessons, and my kids, thrilled to study outside, laughed and skipped across the yard, but I trudged behind them with a dour expression. A fresh breeze stirred my hair, but my heart felt too heavy to relish it.
Pip read from an abridged Shakespeare anthology, then pulled on his helmet and biked a couple laps around the house. Bean sketched an emerald in her gemstone journal, then followed him in hot pursuit.
A Cooper’s hawk split the quiet with his desperate cry. The mother bluebird who’s rented our birdhouse perched with a mealworm in her beak, and over the breeze I could hear the hatchlings squeak and sing. A swell of gratitude broke through my melancholy.
Then, at that moment, the Spirit brought Psalm 147 to mind:
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Tears welled in my eyes. My legs aren’t strong. Neither are my arms or my mind. My aching bones and heart are so weak that I feel wrung out, like an overworn dishrag, or to quote Bilbo Baggins, “butter spread over too much bread.”
But my strength, or lack thereof, matters not to Him. He takes pleasure not in the lines on my CV, or what I can do with my finite hands. He derives no joy from the initials behind my name.
He takes pleasure only in that I love and fear him. That I hope in Him. That I am faithful where He’s called me to be.
Right now, that place is a backyard where moss overtakes the grass, and where bluebirds roost while my kids study mythology between bike rides.
Right now, that place is among the neighbors whom He’s placed in my midst, so I might love them in the quiet ways, the ways that never make the headlines.
Right now, and always, He cares more about my weakness than my strengths, because when I falter, I lean into Him. Because when I fail, His grace is sufficient.
Because when I am weak, His power is made perfect.