Thursday, May 10, 2012

Not Doing Anything Well

I had a beautiful little gathering at my house this morning with a small group of women, trying to grow in our faith, and one of the last conversations I had was about feeling like you're not doing anything well.  I think we all feel this way from time to time and some people feel this way most of the time.  What to do about it?  I suggest following C.S. Lewis' advice in Mere Christianity...Always try again:

In trying to do anything, we must ask for God's help.  "Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given.  Never mind.  After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again.  Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again.  For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue)may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still.  It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on  God.  We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.  The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection."

Following is a journal entry from one of those "not doing anything well" times:
October 19, 2010 - 3:52pm 
I don’t feel like I’m doing anything well…I feel like I’m floating from one thing to another (not with grace, just getting from A to B).  Even now, I have a half-made corn casserole on the counter.  I feel like I’m always waiting for Wyatt to wake up, so I can clean something or put clothes away or cook dinner or whatever. I feel like he’s the only person who really needs me and he drives me so crazy sometimes, when he says my name over and over and over or cries all the way to school wanting his “bear, bear, bear, bear, bear, bear…”.  I look around and constantly see things that need to be done.  I think I feel unimportant at BMan’s school because I would really like to be involved with his class, but his Daddy is the one with the cool job who gets invited to school.  I’m so happy for BMan that his Dad gets to come, but I feel like a tagalong. I know investing time in my children is the most important thing on the planet, but I don’t feel like I’m doing that well.  I can hold their attention for such a short time.  I have a hard time staying “present” when we do spend time together. Sometimes, I feel like they would be better off spending their days with someone else.  I have struggled with the balance between spending QT with the kids and getting everything else done…I feel like I’ve lost it for the time being. I may still be recovering from keeping J after school for the last two weeks when dinner was late every night, and the house was dirty…I think I am also waiting for word from my brother, that he received my letter about his drinking.  What else?  RE on Wednesday nights – I feel totally inept teaching kindergartners (and I think about that a lot), music practice…Ugh, Church commitment every other Friday. My peace is gone and I’m not really sure why.  The tension in my back is off the chart and I can’t really put my finger on it. Spiritual warfare?  I cast any freeloading demons off today in Jesus’ name, but I didn’t feel any differently afterward.  Maybe God is trying to get me to take my own advice, which is C.S. Lewis’ – always trying again.  Clearly, I’m thinking too much about myself here.    (end)

Something to keep in mind about feelings from George MacDonald:

"When a feeling was there, they felt as if it would never go; when it was gone, they felt as if it had never been; when it returned, they felt as if it had never gone."

Feelings aren't always (and often aren't) based in truth.  They are prone to exaggeration.  Some good advice was shared today...Don't lose the perspective of time.  For example, you are not a bad mother, boss, wife, friend, etc...  You are very likely just having a bad/off day.  It has not been like X your whole life, nor will it continue this way for the remainder of your life.  The only thing consistent enough to remain the same for our entire lives, is the Love, Goodness, and Mercy of our Creator.

Dear God, thank you for fellow Christians.  Thank you for the freedom to practice and share our faith without fear of persecution.  Thank you for always being the same.  Thank you for inviting us to remain with You, in your constancy.  You gave us feelings to guide us in our lives.  Help us to know when they are ruling or misleading us.  Lord, let us feel Your Presence when we don't feel like we're doing anything well.  Give us the grace to lean on You, for You make all burdens light.  Amen.


  1. I like the CS Lewis quote that often what God provides first is the "trying again"

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I think all mother's feel like what you feel at some point in their vocations as mothers. I went to Confession today and this was one of the things I discussed with Father. I always picture the enemy whispering lies to me regarding who I am as a wife, mother, friend and daughter. The bad stuff is easier to believe than what the truth is. The truth is, we are daughters of the Most High King. The question to ask yourself is where is your heart? We all know there will be times where we just aren't "feeling it." Those times make me appreciate the times when I am feeling it 100%. Your job is cool! Your job is the one kids remember when they are older and they reflect on their childhood. From the outside in, I see a woman of beauty who treasures her family in remarkable ways and who shares the love of Christ with those around her. These are just my thoughts! I know you didn't need any advice or anything...just what I felt inspired to write.

    1. Thanks for sharing your inspiration, J lynn. You're right, it's all about perspective. I facilitated a class in the Fall called She Shall Be Called Woman and it discusses exactly what you mentioned...satan's enmity toward woman. Why? According to Steve Bollman (the founder of the program), "satan bears enmity towards the woman because she helps humanity live a life filled with love and joy, which is totally absent from satan's life in the abyss." "satan is like the person NOT invited to the wedding party because he's the one who lost the bride." Clearly, we should not be listening to the evil one. He twists things just enough to make them untrue, but not enough to keep us from believing them. Steve also says, "he is just trying to get you to say that 2+2 does not equal 4. It can equal 3, it can equal 5,000, anything but 4." Thanks again for your response! Heidi

  3. Heidi...did you know "jlynn" is Janet Divin?! I didn't realize my name posted like that. Ha! Ha! I figured you didn't know it was me when you said you taught a class I was in! :)

    1. No, I didn't know it was you!! That's hilarious! There's nothing like preaching to the choir! ;)