Saturday, March 13, 2010

Redefining failure

I’m a person who really appreciates organization, schedules, planning, lists, etc. Up until a couple years ago, this is something I was able to achieve. I never paid bills late, dishes rarely sat on my countertop overnight, and my to-do lists stayed manageable. It was great. I thought the only things that could make my life better were 1. A house of my own 2. A baby 3. A publishing contract.

I received all three within a couple months of each other—we bought our house in October of 2007, had McKenna in December of 2007, and received word that I’d sold

Me, Just Different in June of 2008.

Madness and chaos ensued.

Instead of feeling like my life had improved with these blessings, I felt like I’d received everything I’d ever wanted, and was totally making a mess out of it.

Laundry did not get washed, dried, and put away all on the same day anymore. Dishes often sat on the counter top for a night or two because I was so stinking exhausted. I stopped making complicated dinners. We frequently ran out of milk or fresh fruit. I began receiving notices about late bills; we had money to pay them, I had just forgotten. Several times I forgot to put on deodorant. (Fortunately, that only happened in the first couple weeks after McKenna was born.) I kept thinking, what's wrong with me?

My prayers changed from, “God, here’s a few things I think I’d like…” to, “God, what were you thinking?!?!?! I can’t do all this! How can you possibly expect this of me? Look how messy my house is! When was the last time I cleaned the bathroom? I have edits to do and laundry to fold and a daughter who doesn’t know how to sleep anywhere but on my lap!”

These kinds of panic attacks happened off and on for the first year of my daughter’s life. And somewhere in my preparations for her first birthday, when I was having one my meltdowns, I felt God saying to me, “Of course you can’t do it all. I don’t expect you to do it by yourself, I expect you to do it with me.”

After that lightning bolt moment, things really changed. I saw how my failure wasn’t that clothes sometimes sat in the dryer for a day or two before I folded them. The failure was actually in my former way of life, where I had everything so organized, so perfectly planned and scheduled, that I forgot to figure in God. I forgot how much I needed Him for daily survival. I forgot to rely on His wisdom and ask what He had planned for me that day.

My life no longer looks perfect. Especially these last couple weeks. I’ve been sick with a cold twice, had three writing deadlines, plus I’m pregnant and McKenna’s a wonderfully active 2-year-old. My husband mentioned to me yesterday that he has two pairs of underwear in his drawer. I don’t know what we’re eating for dinner tonight, or how on earth we’re going to get everything done before the baby comes that needs to be done. Or how I’ll manage to balance life when I’ve two kids to take care of instead of just one.

These overwhelming moments no longer look like a glaring sign reading YOU ARE FAILING, STEPHANIE. Instead, they’re arrows pointing my focus heavenward, so I can say, “Okay, God. Let’s do this.”

Stephanie Morrill


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this reminder. It's so easy to forget that His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

Diane Marie Shaw said...

Stephanie, It really pleases God when He has us where He wants us to be, relying on Him each and every day. You can make it, maybe it won't be as neat and clean but the really important things are getting done. :)

Cheri LaClaire said...

What a beautiful post. I think every mother has that moment when you feel like you've lost control of everything--your body, your life, your destiny.

Thanks for sharing!

Mandy Maria said...

wow. I needed to hear that.

Julie Garmon said...

Love this one, Stephanie!

Roseanna M. White said...

Great post! And this is why, when asked, "How do you do all of this?" I reply, "I don't!" Some well-placed neglect is in order when you've got so much on your plate. ;-) But you're doing a fabulous job of letting go, Stephanie. Sometimes that's the hardest, most important lesson we have to learn.

Stephanie Morrill said...

Thanks, Julie!

Stephanie Morrill said...

Okay, I was NOT ignoring everyone, I swear! The only post that showed up until today (April 1st) was Julie's.

What nice comments, guys!

"Together for good" - That's a thought I dwell on often these days, that He's strong where I'm weak.

Mandy, I'm glad you needed to hear it as much as I needed to write it :)

Cheri, I chuckled when you specified "your body." Isn't that the truth?

Diane, isn't that the truth? Everything that really matters gets taken care of somehow. I'm blessed with a husband who, when I'm stressing out about commitments, will instantly ask me, "What can I do? Let's make a list of what needs to get done and figure out what only you can do and what I can take off your plate."

Roseanna, thank you! I definitely tend to hang onto more responsibilities than I need to. Took a while to learn that letting Ben run the vaccuum on the weekends did NOT make me a bad wife.