Wanna know what it's like to try your absolute hardest day-in and day-out only to feel like a complete failure when your head hits the pillow at night? Become a mother.
Better yet, become a mother building a career and raising her children at the same time. From home.
This is me. No matter what I do, I can't seem to get my life together. Seriously. If I'm rocking it in my career, then my house looks like a tornado hit - dirty dishes overflowing onto the kitchen counters, piles of laundry (clean and dirty) strewn across the couches and beds, toys cluttering every inch of floor space, spider webs and dust in each corner of the entire house...
But if my house is clean, then I'm most likely behind on work. It piles up like a big ol' heap of word laundry.
And if, by some miracle, my house is spotless and I'm ahead on work, then my family is probably eating chicken nuggets and mac and cheese for supper every night instead of the wholesome, organic dinners I strive for.
Sound familiar? If you're a mama, then you're probably nodding your head in agreement right about now. You've also probably read the million-and-one articles about how it's okay to let some things slide, how "you're enough" and you're doing a great job.
And - if you're like me - those articles that are meant to be encouraging make you feel better for a little while, but it doesn't last. The very next day, you're back to feeling inadequate again. Ready to throw in the towel on every. single. thing.
That's because these words, though they come from sincere, awesome women who really do want to encourage us, offer no real hope, no real solution.
Luckily, there is an actual solution to this devastating, overwhelming feeling of not being "enough." And no, it's not affirmations or "self-care" (at least, not in the sense that most people mean it).
While I was doing my daily (okay, almost-daily) Bible study time this morning, I read about that solution. Just when I was feeling my lowest, the topic of the devotion for today (from Finding I Am by Lysa TerKeurst, pictured below) was about Jesus being the True Vine.
At first, I didn't understand what that had to do with me feeling like a failure all the time. But as I studied the devotion and corresponding Bible verses, it began falling into place.
Jesus being the "vine" means that He is the one who produces the fruit through us. Whatever your fruit is - whether it's raising your children to love God, speaking to hundreds of people at conferences, or simply living your life well - it can't be done without Jesus. We are just the branches.
In John 15: 4-5, Jesus says, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
So, I guess if I'm really honest with myself, then I realize that I'm actually NOT enough. But instead of feeling discouraged by that fact, I feel relieved.
I don't have to be enough. I don't have to run around like a chicken with its head cut off every day, trying to do all the things and be perfect all the time. By slowing down and letting go, I can allow God to work. He's doing behind-the-scenes stuff that I can't even comprehend right now. My job is to simply trust and obey.
I can relax. I can be free.
Lysa TerKeurst said it best: "We run at a breakneck pace to try and achieve what God simply wants us to slow down enough to receive... Jesus doesn't participate in the rat race. He's into the slower rhythms of life, like abiding, delighting, and dwelling..."
I don't know about you, but the slower rhythms of life are right up my alley.
Now, I'm not saying you can just throw up a few prayers and wait for God to make something happen. He has work waiting for us. We all have to participate in our own lives (that's where the "obey" from above comes in). But we can stop the worrying, the running, the trying and let Him do something greater than we could ever imagine (that's the "trust" part).
So just breathe, Mama. You don't have to be enough, because Jesus is.