“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
The law of sin and death, as a mommy sees it:
Typically, it is the experience of feeling overwhelmed by failure, and the shame of not even coming close to making the right choices. The law of sin and death is the certainty that I am screwing up my children, and that I am letting down my husband. It’s convinced that it’s only a matter of time before all of my hair falls out, my friends vote me off of the island, and my house gets red-flagged by OSHA as a hazardous dwelling.
Like, not even cute problems. And I’m all for cute problems. They’re the best. I dream of earnestly spending an entire afternoon complaining to my best friend about the horrors of iced coffee melting too quickly – all watery and yucky. I look forward to these problems some day.
But today, condemnation was all over me like germs on a toilet. Actually, that’s what set it off: my toilets. They had been “particularly pungent” for the past whatever many days. You’re welcome, Internet Land. Yep, smelly toilets, sink of dishes, kitchen floors that turn my girls’ bare feet black. I haven’t brushed their long hair in 3 days. Tables are sticky. My hips are sore and laden with baby #3 in utero. Walking has become painful. I used to run triathlons. I used to be a gymnast. I used to mop. I used to fit into clothes. Now I fit into potato sacks laced with spandex.
My husband is at work all day. Good man. But that leaves me alone with my girls on summer break – who today have picked up on my emotional cues and transformed into screaming, fighting, basket-cases. Then I get one of many frequent Braxton-Hicks contractions, and have to sit down and breathe through the ache in my abdomen. Don’t worry, there are only 96 more months left in this pregnancy.
This is not sustainable.
So how do I feel? Like a failure. Naturally. It’s the most natural thing in the world to consider myself an abject loser at life, biting-off way more responsibility than I can chew. “You got yourself into this mess,” I hear a snarl in my head, “You get yourself out. Your problems are nobody’s but your own.”
It’s natural to hate myself for yelling at my kids, not cleaning my home, and gaining more weight than Skinny Preggo Mama I see at swimming lessons every morning. Perfectly natural to feel just plain awful and grumpy. Or is it?
“No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.” Ephesians 5:29
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
So, if we are bad self-lovers and self-care-ers, then we are bad neighbors logically, and biblically too. The Bible assumes that it is standard that we love ourselves.
The Bible says one thing. I say another. I say self-hatred is natural. It says self-love is standard. I say I’m loving people the best I can. It says if I don’t love myself first, I cannot love my neighbor.
I mean, Zacchaeus – the Napoleanic, mean little crooked government employee – even loved himself.
I don’t know what to do with this.
And therein lies the solution.
Of course Jesus is going to help. But I have to ask Him. And I have to believe that he hears me and values me. And this stems from a base belief that I am worthy of value, because He says so.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
So then, equipped with a sense of self-value based on Jesus’s opinion of me, I CAN face the debilitation of failure, when I don’t know what to do.
Tools for the “I don’t know what to do” moments in life:
This tool-set works for every bit of uncertainty, failure, disappointment, wall, etc. throughout life.
Firstly, it’s quieting the blows to myself. Who finds a bloodied person in a ditch and decides to bend down to add few easy socks to the jaw? Similarly, the vulnerable person inside of me is beat-up. Now is NOT the time to zero in on her as an easy target. Only jerks do that.
Secondly, it’s asking for help, and asking for wisdom from the Lord. Then I may see how to treat myself with the same love and friendship of Jesus. Then I may see that the Body of Christ treats me with similar honor, when I’m hurting.
It’s sending out an SOS to heaven, trusting Jesus won’t send back a telegram that reads, “Figure it out yourself STOP”
But also, Jesus usually won’t send back a telegram that reads, “You can sit this one out STOP I’ll magically fix your bad choices STOP.”
Thirdly, it’s teaming up with Jesus to access his power, and also to take responsibility to grow up into Him.
It’s cheering myself on.
Sound corny? Well, if I am a big fat jerk to myself, then any solution sounds corny. That’s just the kind of thing that a jerk would say.
No, instead, it’s saying:
“I don’t know what to do. But I am smart, Jesus is with me, and I’ll bet I can find a solution. I’ll bet I can ask for help. What resources do I have? I can try again. What did I learn from this failure?”
Becoming familiar with failure is a component of resiliency – which, I am learning, is a mark of wisdom, and maturity.
Oh my gosh, I’m sooooo familiar with failure. That means I’m soooo lined-up for resiliency…
But really, how do I become familiar with failure without just letting myself go, forgetting to shower, and moving into my parents’ basement?
Can you guess?
Through Jesus, it’s changing the equation from
Failure + Me = Illegitimacy and Death
Failure + Me = Learning and Life
It’s facing failure in any number of the myriad ways that it pops up, as a mommy and beyond, and practicing the process of feeling, accepting, and learning. When this process is practiced, it doesn’t take the sting out of failure and rejection. But it does take the murder weapon out of its hand, and instead gives it a legal pad of field notes for me.
Because I am worthwhile, even when I fail. You are too. Our value lies in our Savior’s kind gaze, not in the state of our toilets, or our children, or our bodies. This is the one and only thing that turns failure into new times to try again. Because it cannot touch that place deep inside. That place has been put in Jesus’s hands. And Jesus is not a butterfingers.