I waited for my son under the shady tree of the school parking lot. My favorite part of the day is to see his freckled little face come bounding up with his oversized backpack and toothless grin.
But today was different. His sweet head hung low as he sauntered slowly over to our car.
“What’s wrong, son?”
He hesitated, and after a few groans he mumbled, “I cannot do it…”
“I cannot get zero checkmarks on my behavior chart. I cannot go a whole day without getting even one and I’m never gonna do it.”
In his last parent-teacher conference, we all agreed that he would keep track of each time the teacher reminded him to stay on task. This 8-year-old blondie has energy for days, and while I can adore his quirks, helping him to control his impulses in a less forgiving public is not an easy task.
“I can’t do it! I can’t stop…I don’t like myself.”
How it hurt my mama heart to see him so defeated, but I couldn’t help but empathize.
“Hunny, I feel that way, too sometimes. When I can’t get something right, or when I mess up again even though I know better. It’s part of the being human. We all struggle with that. It will get better.”
We drove home hoping for a better tomorrow, but God continued to press this subject on my spirit, and reminded me of how He carries me in my strife.
Our two natures
In Romans 7, the apostle Paul describes the conflict of two natures: the flesh and the spirit. His struggle was all too familiar: I do the things I don’t want to do because of the sin that dwells in me. The willingness is there, but choosing the good part is oh so difficult.
Choosing to respond in kindness what I feel attacked.
Choosing not to snap at my family when I’m tired, stressed, hot, or hungry.
Choosing to follow through on a promise to my husband instead of focusing on my own priorities.
Choosing to recognizing how my attitude affects the people around me.
When I can take the first step and admit that there are two waring forces in my soul, I can be easier on myself and remember that God has given me the power to choose: be a slave to myself, or to righteousness.
We are bound to mess up
As much as I want to feel in control of every action, the Bible is clear that I will battle a natural inclination to sin. Our tendencies are to be led away – to give in to our own silliness and self-sufficiency.
But we have a heavenly Father who is so good; He always provides a way to overcome, resist temptation, or escape. We can, because He says we can, and there is power behind that promise! (1 Corinthians 10:13)
That power comes from the Holy Spirit, and is promised to every believer (John 14:15-17). Jesus said that He lives with us and will be in us. It’s a power and a peace that we can always access, even when we struggle.
My Messy Room
My internal strife is most exhausting right before I invite the Lord into that space. It’s like a messy room. It’s got piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and chocolate wrappers everywhere. I would have to scramble to get my thoughts together before I ask Him to come in.
But He knows. He wants to come in and sit with my in my mess. He is there waiting for me to make the first move.
“I can’t do it, Lord! I just…. can’t stop… I do the things I don’t want to do… and the things I want, I can’t do them! I… uggghhh…. I don’t like myself.”
He steps over my piles, sits right next to me on the dusty floor, and gently whispers, “Sweet girl, I love you. You are exactly where you need to be. You are precious, you are worthy, and you are Mine. Do what I’ve made you to do, keep walking this path, love your family and come to Me without shame.”
“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14 (NASB)
Maybe you’ve been getting down on yourself far too often, trying too hard to manage all the things, fix every broken part, or right every wrong. It’s exhausting.
Before my son went to bed that night, I held him and said, “Son, no matter how many times you think you mess up, we still love you and God still loves you – and that is more important than your behavior chart. While you’re still learning to pay attention at school, you have more power than you realize. But first, you have to admit that you need help. You need God’s help. Can you ask Him?”
Take a moment to stop today, and let it all out. Cry out to your heavenly Father. He’s waiting for you, He loves you, and He understands every need. Big or small, just tell Him, open His Word, and wait for His whisper.
Lord, I can’t do it on my own. I need Your help, Your guidance, and Your strength. I’m tired of trying too hard to be worthy. Thank you for hearing me, seeing my mess, and loving me anyway. I need you today, Father. Please hold my hand today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What is one struggle that you can invite God to help you overcome today?
Block out time to sit quietly with Him today, maybe take a journal, and pour out your heart.