The Torn Up To-Do List: How To Be A Good Christian When You’re A Big Failure

With babies, weeks are blurry even when you get new spectacles.



Four days out from Monday and I’m still in a fog, thinking about sad things, the things that visit when you sleep in a chair all night. I try not to sleep in chairs as a rule, but lately I have been unable to help myself for the following reason:
He didn’t develop those thigh rolls all by himself.
I helped…while sleeping in a chair.
Good news! Last night, I started to sleep in the chair (accidentally of course) but Derrick flushed the toilet and the noise woke me up. I told him he has to go to the bathroom at 1 a.m. from now on.
Problem solved!
In today’s modern society, three kids in 3.5 years is somewhat of an anomaly and I get some questions, most of which are something like, “How is it?”
It’s interesting. I keep my sanity by refusing to go to the grocery store. I send Derrick. This has saved us money, as it keeps me from buying the expensive roast beef.
I don’t know why I buy roast beef at all really, since people around here prefer to eat blue markers behind my back.
Sure, it’s frustrating and stressful. One kid’s temper tantrum leads to the baby waking up, and the patience you practiced fumbles and goes all wrong.
The hardest part is the mental part.
You get tired. No one thinks their best when they’re tired. No one acts their best. I find myself giving my children FOUR angry eyes instead of two (HA!). I find myself handing out sandwiches for dinner…and they don’t even have expensive roast beef in them!
It’s defeating.
Compound my failures and my fatigues with Christian guilt and the list of things I should be doing/cooking/reading/saying/teaching/believing/cleaning and before I can say Nevermore, the black crow of despair is on my shoulder.
I would like to sit in a corner and cry until I fall asleep, but that would just perpetuate the cycle of sleeping while sitting, which leads to crying again. What I’m saying is, sometimes there seems to be no hope, and the bible is a bunch of pages of things I should be doing.
Or not doing.
So I resolve to try harder, to be stronger, when really I just feel like napping and eating ice cream.
These are all distractions, these lists of things to do:
The idea that sandwiches are an unacceptable dinner food.
The standard that mothers must never, ever get mad at their loud children.
The guilt that comes with not flossing regularly.
God wants to make me perfect, but my idea of perfection is not His idea of perfection.
He makes ladybugs with uneven spots.
He made my face asymmetrical. I think perhaps He likes bends and curves and potholes, and maybe even, sandwiches for dinner. I’m not sure exactly what He likes. It seems to me that finding out would be a good place to start.
All I do should be based on a perfect oneness with Him, not on a self-willed determination to be godly.” – Oswald Chambers

25 thoughts on “The Torn Up To-Do List: How To Be A Good Christian When You’re A Big Failure

  1. A lovely post that fits all stages of life. Thanks for this encouragement for all of us out here silently feeling sure that we are failures….

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  2. I love your new specs. Guess what? When God made my face, he made one eyebrow higher than the other, so it always looks like I'm raising an eyebrow at somebody. You know – the look that says “I don't approve”. It makes people mad. But I'm not doing it on purpose. My eyebrows are asymmetrical. And my glasses, which I need at all times except while sleeping, only enhance the look.

    I had three babies right in a row. A woman once said to me while pointing to my children, “How could you give up a career for that?” I looked at her with my raised eyebrow. She shut up. God knew what He was doing. It wasn't always easy, but it was worth it. I can see that better now. Your light shines in this space. Don't forget. ^|~

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  3. I had my 5(4 pregnancies) in 4.5 years and I got a lot of the comment ” you do know what causes this don't you?” Those days were hard and fun. I yelled and I hugged and I prayed. Everyone turned out fine despite my shortcomings. I still feel like I am falling short of my purpose. But then I remember his grace and I know he loves me. You bless me girl with all your words. xoxo

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  4. If this is the kind of post you write with sleep deprivation, maybe you should deprive yourself of sleep more often… 😉 No, really, this time comes to pass. I remember feeling like I was living in a half awake state for some time. It comes to pass.

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  5. This is beyond great! I just loved every little word. I had to slowly re-read it a second time just to let the words wash over me. You are a genius, my dear…and I am not just saying that because you wear cute glasses.

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  6. Wow! No big words today. I'm on my spell checkless phone. IF ONLY I COULD THINK/WRITE THIS CLEARLY. THIS BRILLIANTLY amidst my post baby fog!!!
    Imagine what you can do when you start sleeping again! Impressive!
    Thanks for the true words!
    Happy long weekend!

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  7. Those thoughts that creep into our minds at night amidst the sleep fog give me the most grief. Sometimes I just want to pull them out, throw them on the floor, stomp on them and then do a little happy jig. And my “baby” is nine now while my older two are grown. This mama business is forever and always. Sending hugs your way.

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  8. One of the things I think you absolutely should be doing, is using the tear ducts God gave you to cry when you're sad, rather than pretend when you're not. Back home (still working at my satellite office at Starbucks on account of now power–believe me, I've been living off sandwiches, doing some crying of my own, and failing to live up to Christian principles) I have a quote I want to share with you. If I can stop doing the happy dance when the power comes back on.

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  9. beautiful joann-you do know you are, right?-there is faith here, in these words. faith and hope and grace and reassurance. i had a friend share recently w/ me from a woman who spoke at her bible study said that when she was out w/ her young ones and ppl made the comment, my your hands are full, that she'd say, yes, of good things. she repeated this so often (b/c society says it to us so often) that even her kids would pipe up–that they knew their mama considered them good things and not the inconvenience others often think of them as. we are doing a good work, you w/ your 3 all close, and me w/ my 4 all close in age. our hands and hearts are full of GOOD things!!! love

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  10. i know you follow emily @ chatting at the sky. you need to read her book. you know, instead of sleeping in that chair. if you can keep your tired little eyes awake. and if he doesn't flush the toilet too loudly. i think you would find comfort and sistership there.
    wishing you sleep filled nights and an abondonment of that guilt. because you are perfect. perfectly imperfectly perfect.

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  11. I am astounded by how asymmetrical my face is. I had no idea until this year. I understand this was not your driving point behind this post, but still.

    I love your words here. They are so true. And yes, you MUST MUST MUST read Emily's book. It changed my wigging life.

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  12. So what I'm wondering is how you can be so brilliant and damned eloquent on so little sleep? That wasn't a very nice way to phrase that question, was it? I think I might be a little jealous…of your brilliant eloquence…not your lack of sleep.

    But seriously, this is beautiful. And that Oswald Whatever-His-Name is quote? That's rock star.

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