Struggle isn’t the same as failure

I had just finished telling Daniel about a conversation several of my homeschooling mommy friends and I had talked through yesterday. We had covered the pros and cons of various curriculums and the challenges and strengths of learning styles and disabilities. It felt like a tiny splash over from a tornado, lots of high winds and chaos and powerful energy, but the wake left me feeling breathless and bone tired.

I took a deep breath and looked into my half-filled coffee cup.
Daniel’s mug was long empty. He always beats me by a long shot, but I sip and savor and pause my way through the cup. But his words caught me off guard.

“I think you need to stop saying you aren’t qualified for this…”


I held really still, and listened hard.
He rattled off a list of things I AM good at, and how I have this skill and that gifting that is exactly what my children need.
How I have what it takes, to do- and he proceeded to list some of my far-off dreams, that scowl at me in the distance, taunting me at the impossibility of it all.

By the time he was done, I was in tears. Not sad tears. Not really happy ones.
Just tears of awe.

You see, the easiest thing in the world for me is to see my shortcomings.

To feel the raw burn of the struggle, and forget that often I actually pull through.
I overlook again that struggle isn’t equivalent to failure. Every season of life has really hard elements. But just because life is hard doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong.

This evening my house filled with people popping over, delightfully and some unexpectedly. A wedding is nearby tomorrow, and two of our married siblings stopped in. We were busy this evening building a work-bench in our garage, and so I’d planned on a supper of simple leftovers. As the number of mouths swelled, my pitiful leftovers diminished, and so I quickly threw some spaghetti together. It was the most hodge podgy supper ever, but at least we had piña colada smoothies and coffee to make it feel like a remotely happy meal.

As he scooped another helping of sticky noodles, my brother in law commented,
“You do such a good job at hosting spontaneously.”
I smiled and said something about having a house that hosts well. But really, his words struck that same chord Daniel had hit this morning.

You see, we are each gifted. We each have valuable things to bring to the table, to offer to those around us.

Just because I struggle to feel natural at preparing food for hosting doesn’t mean I’m a hosting flop. I DO love having my home full of people. And just because finding exactly the perfect fit for my different children’s learning styles and abilities is challenging doesn’t mean I’m doing a bad job. I’m stretching and straining through it, but I’m meeting needs and growing in the process.

Long ago I learned to stop apologizing for a messy house, because it makes guests feel uncomfortable. But when someone hands me a compliment, I feel like I’m suddenly holding a hot potato, fresh out of the oven. I juggle it and look around for a safe place to toss it.

Twice today, that warmth reach beyond my hands and touched me deeply. God wants to have the freedom to be my Daddy, and to say, “You are beautiful.”
Just because.

God delights in His children. He wants to shower us with affirmation, not based on our good achievements or hard work, but in who we ARE. In who He made us to be.
True identity lies in who someone IS, and not who they feel like they are.
There is so much joy to be had when we walk in the beauty of being loved.
Unchecked, lavish love.

God delights in you, and the ways you reflect Him.
There is no shame in God’s fingerprint in your life. In His talents seeping through you.

Hold out your hands and close your eyes.
Let God fill you with the joy He sees at the beauty in you.


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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Cheryl Newswanger says:

    This so struck my hearts cord! You could’ve been writing this about my life. Thank you for the encouragement. You do this well!

  2. deepeight says:

    Yes, amen. It takes humility to acknowledge and accept the gifts God has given. Bless you today as you walk in the light of His presence!

  3. Thank you, Melissa. These words touched a cord in my heart. Too often I focus on my failures and the things I don’t excell in.. especially when facing a particularly challenging child or relationship. Gods banner over us is love and what a precious beautiful thing it is!
    Thank you for blessing others with your words 💕

  4. Liz says:

    Thanks so much for writing this post !!! The struggle is real for me. Just this week I told my hubby ” I feel like I am not really good at anything… ” I really need this reminder that struggle is not failure !!!

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