When You’re A Failure In January

January is cold with goals and measurements, everything is on the scales. I tally up pounds, worth, failures and successes while the wind wails.  I’m less than perfect everywhere, from my eyebrows to my soul. I can’t wait for the warmer weather, when diets are dusty in the corner and we take our failures swimming. 
I know there’s a place for measuring and keeping account. I know there’s a time to make goals and chase them, but sometimes pie charts and graphs wear me out. Sometimes I sit in the parking lot, alone in my car, and I call a friend.

“Do you ever stay up at night and worry about how you’re screwing your kids up?” 

 “Yes.” she says it simply, “but then I get over it. Go watch Finding Nemo. I told you to watch Finding Nemo when you get in a mood like this, remember?”

I don’t. I don’t remember, and I don’t know what Finding Nemo has to do with anything. The father/son relationship and how I’ll miss my kids if they are ever captured by a scuba diver? The fact that they are better in this scary ocean with me than in a safe tank away from me and my ability to screw them up?

She says, “In the whale! When they’re in the whale! You have to let it go. Just let go!”

I laugh, because that’s impossible.  I don’t let things go. I collect them, and save them. I file them away all year, especially on Tuesdays and definitely in January. I never make New Year’s Resolutions. My entire life is a resolution.

Later, I go shopping with my sister in law, and we find treasures and smell all the candles and spray all the perfume. She puts on a hat with a horse’s silhouette on it. It’s hilarious. There is no room for the law in that hat. That hat, and whomever buys it? They are all about grace.

Just let go.

 Because according to the law and the scale and your children’s therapist? You’ve fallen short. You’re a bear market. You’re in the red.

You can work and work, and you’ll get somewhere. I’ve noticed though, that you never get perfect. Not yet, not on your own, not by yourself. But you can make your imperfect life a work of art.

There’s only room for art, for a new creation, when you’re ready to face all your failure and let go of the old. Because you’re only human. Turn on the light, laugh at your striving and embrace the One who makes you different than the wreck that you are.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” – Ephesians 2:8-9

8 thoughts on “When You’re A Failure In January

  1. I think you should cut yourself big-time slack b/c your kid can very obviously play with batteries w/o putting them in his mouth. If that sounds random to you, count yourself VERY FORTUNATE. 😉


  2. Can you see me sitting here at the computer at 12:12 in the morning? Those thoughts and feelings needle at me in the wee hours also. This, JoAnn, spoke right to my heart. I even memorized Isaiah 43:18-19 this past week. I'm off to bed now.


  3. loved this. it seems He is leading me right to all the posts this week with strong words of encouragement.
    yours is strong and beautiful, all at the same time. i have a feeling you were on a roll with this one and that the words just flowed as you sat there and typed them out. it had that feel to it, anyway. lovely rhythm. a pleasure to read. 🙂
    have a great weekend!


  4. Beautiful words. All of it.
    “I don't let things go. I collect them, and save them. I file them away all year..” This describes me so well. I have already given up on my “read the Bible in a year plan” ugh! And then I feel guilty about it (I'm sure I need to blog about it)
    I think more of what I need to improve in my mothering than what I am doing right. If I could only extend more grace to myself and relax more about my imperfections.


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