Boast in your failures

Have you failed miserably at something lately? You know, like marriage, your job, life?

A few months ago my pastor stopped me in the parking lot at church to tell me my youngest child was still in the building. When I got to the craft room and hurried the child out, saying, “I almost left you here!” the child responded: “Wouldn’t be the first time.” The pastor added, “Or the second.”

I’ve tried to be a good mom. 

I read to my kids and made homemade meals. And back when I was having babies, Baby Mozart was the rage, so child number one and two heard their share of sonatas and symphonies. 

But in all truth, I’ve also ignored my kids and not given them the affection they need.

Plenty of nights I’ve handed them a bag of popcorn for supper, or worse, just shrugged. 

And more times than I care to remember, I’ve made excuses to get out of doing what they wanted to do.   

And while I could dwell on my parenting failures, or the multitude of other failures unrelated to parenting, I have instead realized my failures show me the opportunities God has to shine. 

The apostle Paul said, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

Do you know the story of David and Goliath from the Bible (1 Samuel 17)? If David had been the same size as Goliath, there wouldn’t have been much to tell. His win would have been no big deal.

And if the Israelites had been able to outrun the Egyptians, then how would generations describe God’s power? (See Exodus 14.)   

And if you’ve got life and children and your marriage figured out, well then, you have no need to rely on God the way I do every day. 

If, however, like me, your life is a little messy, you can rejoice! Your inadequacy gives God the chance to show you how big HE is.

If my children walk with God and arrive safely home in heaven, that will be God’s doing. I’ve tried to instill a deep love for God, but my sinfulness could just as easily drive them away. And if my marriage stands the test of time, it won’t be because of me. My selfishness and sarcasm have worked hard to destroy it. And if God uses me in his kingdom, it certainly is only because his power works in spite of who I am.  

My failures are always before me. But that makes me the perfect instrument for God to use. If and when success happens, we both know where the glory belongs.

My continual success at failing doesn’t leave me in a corner hiding under a blanket. I keep trying—and sometimes failing—knowing God works through perfectly flawed, but willing hearts. When I fail, I thank him for the reminder that I am human and need him. And when things go well, I’ve learned to say, “Thank you, Jesus!” 


Amber Albee Swenson is a writer, speaker, and blogger. Her husband and four children keep life exciting and give her lots to write and pray about. Mother, wife, and author are treasured positions, but child of God is her identity.


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