FAILURE. It does not define me.

I am struggling.

I know I should not be listening to the lies. I know I need to suit up in my Ephesians 6 armor - daily - so I am prepared to defend myself against the blows of the enemy. I know I am redeemed, free, and completely secure in the arms of the Father. I KNOW. But the feelings are not following the knowledge.

F A I L U R E.

That is the word that keeps bouncing back and forth in my mind.
Every area is under attack.
Parenting. THWACK!
Homeschooling. THWACK!
Spiritual disciplines. THWACK! THWACK!
Health. THWACK!
Relationships. THWACK!
Lord, please! Smash that stinking ball!

I hate that word. 
When one of our children fail, I look him/her in the eye and firmly state, "Your failure does not DEFINE you. Everyone makes mistakes. Patterns define you, but mistakes and failures create opportunities for growth and maturity because you are able to turn that failure into a learning experience, and hopefully, not repeat the same mistake twice."
Great advice. And true. Scripture says, "This one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind, and straining toward what is ahead I press on toward the goal ..." 
Yet here I sit, deaf to my own preaching, and feeling - like a failure.
Lord ... 

I know it is the lie of the enemy.
I know he is trying to put my focus on Self so I cannot see the Savior, hear the Savior, BELIEVE the Savior.
He wants to devour me, and he doesn't even try to hide that fact!
He hates me. And I know it.
Instead of standing with my feet firmly planted, dressed in full battle gear, and wielding a freshly-sharpened sword - I - am slouched in a chair wearing a tank top, cut-offs, and flip flops while loosely holding a spatula. 
When you picture such an image, doesn't it make you want to scream, "Protect me, Michelle! Protect ME!"
Of course not. It's pathetic.

Today I hopped on the internet highway and typed in the words "verses on failure." In a Divinely ironic twist, these were the verses that appeared on the screen.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 

Psalm 73:26

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 

My lips curled into an amused smile as I shook my head and mumbled, "Of COURSE He would respond to me this way."
Not one verse is about failure. In fact, every verse focuses on the LORD. Just as it should be.

I am not a perfect mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, or woman. 
I make mistakes. I hurt. I offend. 
But none of these failures DEFINE me. 
I am a redeemed child of a God who gives unlimited grace and new mercies every morning because even when I am faithLESS, He remains FAITHFUL. It's who He is. And I am grateful.

Lord, forgive my laziness in the spiritual battle. You command me to FIGHT, and I have disobeyed orders. My feelings cannot be the catalyst for my actions. They are ever-changing and unreliable. Action and obedience must come FIRST because they are based in TRUTH. Ephesians 6 does not say, "Put on the full armor of God" unless you don't feel like it ... don't see the need ... or want to do something else instead. "SUIT UP!" You yell. "There is an enemy that seeks to destroy you, and unless you are prepared - you will.not.win. GET DRESSED, soldier! The battle is raging around you and it is time to ENGAGE!"
Oh, Lord. I have been such a lazy soldier, and because of this, the enemy was given access to my heart and mind - and he won the fight. I know I cannot be perfect this side of heaven, but I can seek to be the BEST Michelle I can be, not in my own strength - but in YOURS. I know I am not a failure. I am fearfully and WONDERFULLY made, and my souls knows it. Very well. Thank You, Lord, for bringing truth to a weakened mind and restoring JOY and contentment once again.

Seems like all I can see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me "son
Stop fighting a fight that's already been won"

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off theses heavy chains
Wipe away every stain now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, "Child lift up your head"
I remember oh God, You're not done with me yet

I don't have to be the old man inside of me
'Cause his day is long dead and gone
I've got a new name, a new life I'm not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain now I'm not who I used to be

Oh God I'm not who I used to be
Jesus I'm not who I used to be

'Cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed

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