A few days ago, I was having one of those, “I’m a horrible mother, my children hate me, I can’t do anything right, I’m a failure,” sort of days. I was thinking about all the things I should be doing but I’m not, and all the things I’m doing that I shouldn’t be, and I was feeling pretty discouraged. I decided to give myself a time out and go to the store for some needed groceries. As I was driving, I said a quick little prayer asking God to help me not to be so discouraged about everything. I sat in the grocery store parking lot making out my grocery list and I thought I would also make a list of everything I needed to work on in my life. (If you know me very well, you know that everything I do in my life begin and ends with a list.) As I turned on my phone, to make my list, I felt inspired to, first, make a list of everything I was already doing well. At first, I thought it was going to be a very short list and I was really going to struggle with finding anything to write. As I got started however, I began to see that it wasn’t as hard as I had originally thought it would be. Ideas were coming to my mind. I started with the easy things like: my kids are safe, my kids are clean (mostly). Then I wrote things like: I’m good at making a homemade dinner every night, and I do the laundry. I continued to write, and I was surprised by how long my list was getting. I was doing a lot of good things for my family that I hadn’t even thought of before. Looking at my list cheered me up immensely and I could see how far I really have come over the years. Some of my strengths and things I am doing well now were things I had previously struggled with. I realized I’m not a complete failure like I thought I was, in fact I was doing pretty good.
Once the “Doing Well” list was complete I started in on the “Needs Improvement” list. And you know what? It was much shorter than I had expected it to be, and I was surprised to see that the good far outweighed the bad. This list took on a new meaning as well. Instead of it being a list of all my flaws, failures, and character defects like I thought it would be in the beginning, it became a to do list, a starting place, and an action plan of things I could work on. I could see that the things on my list like “go to bed earlier,” and “clean my family room” were things to do and not character flaws. All the things I needed to change didn’t seem so overwhelming now. Instead, I had a manageable list of things I could improve upon, instead of just having an overwhelming feeling of guilt and failure with no hope in sight.
I’m thankful for a loving God who answered my “I’m so discouraged and I need help” prayer by inspiring me to see the good I was already doing. God doesn’t want us to be discouraged. When we are discouraged we often feel helpless and unable to change. God knows we are wonderful and capable and he sees our good and so should we.
Next time you are feeling like a failure, pray and ask God to help you see the all the good you are doing and then make a list of everything that comes to mind. I guarantee it will lift your spirits and you will be surprised about how awesome you really are.