When You Feel Like a Failure

"When you feel like a failure" by Amanda Woodiel (CatholicMom.com)

Image credit: Pixabay.com (2010), CC0/PD

I’ve been facilitating a moms’ group at our parish for nearly a year. I leave most meetings feeling refreshed from spending time with other moms who make their faith a priority and energized by the ideas generated.

But not the most recent time. This time I left feeling like a failure.

I’m not sure why, exactly, other than we were brainstorming ideas on a whole lot of different aspects of motherhood, and being hit with a barrage of ideas that I don’t implement made me feel deficient. Maybe it’s because I asked for advice about how to feed a family more economically and suddenly felt like buying cheese already sliced made me a poor financial steward. Perhaps it’s entirely unrelated to the meeting itself and is because my kids have reached an age when they should know better, and I’m faced with their free will and concupiscence on a daily basis.

Whatever the reason, I left feeling like a slouch of a mom. Clearly, this isn’t the vibe I’m shooting for in our moms’ group — which only made me feel like an ineffective group leader. Sigh.

But God will draw good out of everything, if we let Him, so I spent some time in prayer asking God what to do when I feel like a failure.

The first thing I did was ask God to rescue me because, frankly, I didn’t know what else to do. I did know that the narrative that was running through my head was not holy and that any feeling of discouragement is not from God but from the devil. Jesus only encourages, heals, and loves, and that’s even true in any admonishment or correction.

  • But here’s what I realized: we have to want to be rescued. It’s a real temptation to wallow in our spiritual poverty and recount to ourselves all of the things we dislike about ourselves. That must be resisted. How much better to say with confidence to Our Lord, “Come rescue me! Whatever I lack, you have in abundance. You are glorified in my weakness! So much the better that I have weaknesses so that you are glorified. I give myself to you.”
  • Examine your conscience. I realized that most of the things I feel like I fail at are imposed by the culture or by myself — not by our faith. Jesus said we must love one another. He did not say that my house must look like a magazine. The catechism says that I must teach my children the faith. It does not say that I must have perfect children. When I had the courage to truly examine why I felt like a failure, there was a lot of pride at root.
  • Sit in the presence of someone who loves you — that is to say, the Lord. How easy it is to feel like a failure, mutter some lies to yourself, and move on to the next task! No, instead take some time to sit with Jesus and let his gaze of love heal you. And if you need something to think about, start with this: Jesus has a preference for the poor. Are you poor in housekeeping? Our Lord prefers you. Are you poor in ability to understand intellectual things? Our Lord prefers you. Are you poor in energy or sleep? Our Lord prefers you. Your poverty is your treasure.

I say this over and over: We are in a spiritual battle for our souls, and we must do whatever we can to reject the devil and his lies. Speak truth to yourself in your head and out loud! Do not be discouraged: Our Lord came for those in need of a doctor. You, dear reader, are of such inestimable value that spiritual wars are waged for you. You are so cherished that God Himself came to ransom you. You are worth dying for. This is the truth, friend. You are beloved right now as you are. You are not a failure.

Copyright 2019 Amanda Woodiel


About Author

Amanda Woodiel is a Catholic convert, a mother to five children ages 9 to 1, a slipshod housekeeper, an enamored wife, and a “good enough” homeschooler who happens to believe that the circumstances of her life--both good and bad--are pregnant with grace. Read more of her thoughts on faith and motherhood at In a Place of Grace and at Amazing Catechists.

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