I’m a failure.
It’s all my fault.
I’m not good enough.
People will resent me.
I’m not really forgiven.
I’m not a good mom.
I talk too much when I should shut up.
I stay silent when I should speak up.
God is disappointed in me.
Have you ever said one of these lines? I have a growing list in my journal of lies I’ve repeated and believed over the last year. But sometimes the lies we believe are true, aren’t they? Sometimes it is my fault. I have failed. I’m not always a good mom. I don’t listen well or speak up when I should. There’s enough truth in those lies to make them believable.
This past winter, I sat in my car in the Panera parking lot with my phone held against my ear talking to my counselor. My twins were at preschool for a couple hours, while my youngest munched on Cheerios in his carseat behind me. This setup became my regular rhythm — phone appointments while I only had to keep my third child content.
I’d been back in weekly counseling sessions for a few months. In that season, I felt like I was treading water, constantly fearing I’d be asked to hold a brick. Even the smallest shift in our schedule, added responsibility, or interpersonal tension felt like that brick. I couldn’t keep kicking my legs and many days left me gasping for air. What was wrong with me? I honestly live a life of privilege and relative ease, yet I felt completely joyless. Time only made me feel more worn, and if something didn’t change, I’d drown.
I tried to put my confusion and weariness into words as I spoke with my counselor. I felt lost and dark and sad for a thousand reasons that seemed both completely ridiculous and utterly debilitating. Why couldn’t I escape this darkness when from the outside, my life looked pretty near perfect? I’ve never experienced major trauma, and with professional help, I knew I wasn’t suffering from physical illness or clinical depression. This was different.
“It’s like there’s a dark, windowless room,” she said. “You used to be outside the room. But there’s a battle going on for your mind, and every time you believe a lie, it’s as if you’ve opened the door to that room a little further.” And then with every lie, I took one more step inside until eventually the door slammed shut behind me. And there I was, unable to escape a spiritual darkness so heavy, so all-encompassing I’d forgotten life outside even existed.
“Now, you need someone — God, counseling, your husband, friends — to unlock the door, remind you of truth, and pull you out.”
My eyes watered as I prayed no one parked close enough to witness me weep. I mumbled, “That’s it. That’s exactly it.” For so long I’d been stuck in this dark, windowless room, and my attempts to fix the issue over the past year were no more freeing than if I’d been rearranging furniture. At times it got more comfortable, but I was still trapped.
I drove home exhausted but hopeful. Maybe this cycle of self-condemnation, this joyless living, this all-consuming darkness could end. I knew it wouldn’t be a quick and easy journey out, but recognizing that I didn’t have to live in the darkness gave me a taste of freedom. Because the truth sets us free, right?
Maybe people hurl false accusations at us, and we wrestle with what it means for God to be just in the midst of that battle. Other times, we’re accurately accused of very real failures. The evil one knows how to speak condemnation to our hearts and kick us when we’re down. He can speak the truth about our unfaithfulness and lure us into a dark, locked room of shame until we start to believe that’s where we belong. But the devil, when he reminds us of the lies, leaves out the part about our redemption.
Eugene Peterson writes, “The lies are impeccably factual. They contain no errors. There are no distortions or falsified data. But they are lies all the same because they claim to tell us who we are and omit everything about our origin in God and our destiny in God.”
As truthful as the lies may seem at first, they leave out the grace of God and who we are because of it. In Psalm 51, David pleads with God to forgive. He committed murder and adultery, two very real and public failures. He confesses and repents, and then he prays, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalm 51:12, ESV).
The truth of redemption is that we don’t have to be trapped by our failures or the lies we hear because of them. Instead, God can restore to us the joy of our salvation, a joy that can’t be claimed by believing we’re good enough or that our sins aren’t bad enough. It’s a joy that comes from confessing our very real sin and resting in the forgiveness, grace, and freedom we have in Christ.
God really is that good. He is that forgiving, that loving, that faithful, that gracious. And there truly is no condemnation for those in Christ. There is no more powerful truth than that to combat the lies and no greater joy to be found anywhere else.
Joy comes from confessing our very real sin and resting in the forgiveness, grace, and freedom we have in Christ. -Sarah J. Hauser: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
I loved this!
Michele Morin says
Preserving that Eugene Peterson quote for my own journaled list of short-comings and epic fails.
All the while knowing that there’s a Jesus-sized Grace, big enough to fill any room, I also let myself live in the dark, windowless space from time to time.
Thanks for words that reveal the truth that is bigger.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Jesus is one who forgives all our sins. If we are truly repentant of any wrong we have done and truly want to change. Not want to walk in our old bad habits. Satan the Old Devil would have stay walking in our old habits. Like a smoker addict to smoking and they no matter how hard they try on their own. They can’t seem to give up. The nicotine in the cigarettes is very addictive. I hear this from smokers. So they have to go get help from there Doctors and join a smoking group if they will. Like us Christians we have to pray ask God’s Holy Spirit to show us if we need to get help for this sin we can’t stop doing. Go get the help from the Christian counseling God tell us to go too. Like I got help from my Salvation Army Officer in the past for problems. Plus a good Christian friend. As if you don’t it does not go away. It can keep coming back. You can keep on doing the same sin. Even though you keep reading Psalm 51 and asking God to forgive you. It does not go away. You may need counseling for the sin through the Christian counseling person God tells you through his Holy Spirit to go too. When you do and get the help no matter what the problem about. You begin to knock it on the head once and for all. Satan then you can stamp him under your feet. You no longer think about it any more. You are free from it. You are new person. New creation in Christ. All that is behind you. You begin to feel a lot better. Glad you got the help. As I sure was. As the Christian song say I am new creation no more in condemnation. You get the song on YouTube. Don’t let Satan the Old Devil have you think you can’t beat this. You can with God help and through his Holy Spirit telling you what to do next. If you need to go trusted Christian counseling. Love this reading. Love Incourage readings. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxxx
I needed to hear this today. I know these lies creates so much anxiety and stress to our lives yet we continue to allow them to filter in our head. I am deeply struggling to fit in at work. I feel as if a few coworkers are always looking out to see my failures and are so quick to point out to others about my mistakes. I don’t understand why we as women cannot learn to empower each other without the need to tear one another down. Why must we do this? We are all in this together. I know I should not allow others, especially those who know so little of me get under my skin yet I am more hurt than I am willing to show. Still I continue to do the right thing and play deaf ear. I have learned over the years that people who treats others bad are the ones who really need to be shown that kindness and I will not treat them the same way they are treating me. Most hard to do at times and definitely takes every ounce of my being to remain silent. Thanks for sharing this.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Maylee don’t every think about what the people in your work think about you. You go on living your life in front of them for Jesus. You might not get your reward this side of earth. But you will get it in Glory when your time up.on earth. You remember what you do in work you are not doing it on too your work colleges. Your are doing it on to Jesus and that is all that matters. You remember you are Beautiful and you are a Daughter of the King. That King is Jesus. Look up on Youtube the Father Love Letter. It will tell you what our Father thinks of you. You remember that. Everything you do for God he see it. That is all that matters. You might not get your reward this side of earth but you will get it in Glory. So go to work remembering Jesus is with you in that work place. He said in his word the Bible he will never leave you nor for sack you. Because he Loves you too much. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xxxx
Erica Player says
Nail. On. The. Head. Thank you!
Beth Williams says
Oh such truths in this post. The evil one seeks constantly to destroy us & make us believe that God can’t possibly love us anymore. This world seems to be helping oh so much. It;s out there daily in the news, magazines, TV shows. Just take a look & you can think I”m not pretty, smart, don’t measure up. For the world’s standards you may not. But thanks to God we do measure up. We are pretty, & smart. For we are created in His image. Remember this He doesn’t make mistakes. Do we fail sometimes sure. But the Grace of Almighty God will forgive us if only we ask. Open the door/window to that room & begin to climb/walk out. Start by asking God to forgive you. Pray Psalm 51 beseeching God to forgive. Tell Him how sorry you are that you failed & that you will work hard next time. Turn away from that sin & seek the joy of Salvation. He will hear from Heaven & forgive you of ALL your sins. He loves you that much. Next time you hear those lies – kick them to the curb & run to God first.