by Jessica Bradley
That word is extremely negative. It means “lack of success.” If you look it up in the thesaurus, it gets paired with words like: breakdown, defeat, decay, inadequacy, loser, and wreck. Nothing with a positive connotation.
For several years, around the time when I became a new wife and mother, I let my failures define the way I viewed myself. That negative view of myself dragged me down into a depression that I didn’t know how to get out of.
It’s very popular right now to remind people to speak positive thoughts to themselves. We are told to look in the mirror and say, “You can do this! You are strong enough! Your failures don’t define you!” Everywhere we look, self-worth is measured by success. There are tons of different measurements and priorities for success, so if one doesn’t fit your lifestyle, find a different one! We are told that success is what matters, and failure is a lack of success. So keep trying! You can do this! Don’t give up!
While I was struggling with my own failures, that all sounded like a lie to me. Why tell myself, “I can do it!” when I knew I would fail again? Why lie and say, “I’m strong enough!” when I knew I was weak?
I think some people need to preach positive thoughts into their lives, and that for some this does help with negative self-worth. For me, it just left me feeling like I was lying to myself, and I desperately needed the truth. But the only truth I saw was that I will always continue to fail. I am not perfect and I never will be.
As I searched the scriptures, trying to find any truth to cling to in order to fight my depression, slowly God’s truth did take shape in my life.
Do you know why I kept feeling like a failure? Because I’m not good enough. I am weak. I am going to continue to fail.
Do you know how I finally found freedom in that knowledge of myself? When I finally admitted that I’m not good enough because I’m not supposed to be!
I am nothing apart from Christ!
God isn’t just there to fill in when my strength fails; He is the only reason I’m even breathing. I have nothing to offer my husband or my kids or this world apart from what Christ has given me.
So instead of listening to Satan breathe his lies into my life and make my failures a negative force to drive my depression, I could chose to let God breathe His truth into me and show me how much I desperately needed Him.
He is my strength and my fortress (Ps. 18:2), it is His grace that is sufficient for me, and His power is made perfect in my weaknesses (2 Cor. 12:9). My weaknesses and failures do not have to define me and leave me hopeless. My position in Christ is the only thing that should define me.
My depression took a turn once I started to practice living in this truth.
When I fail (and I still will), I don’t need to let it negatively define me anymore. Instead, I can let it serve as a positive reminder to stop trying to do things on my own. I need to rely completely on Christ.
“I am the vine; you are the branches […] apart from me you can accomplish nothing.” (John 15:5, NET)
In Christ there is love and forgiveness, strength and power, grace and freedom. I am not good enough because I’m not supposed to be. Through Christ, I can find freedom in failure.
Jessica Bradley is a wife and mother to three children under the age of five. She’s passionate about living for Christ and encouraging others to do the same through whatever channels He calls her to (including the occasional blog post). Her main hobby is running after her kids, but she also enjoys reading, baking, shopping, and spending time with friends.
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