faith

43 Reasons I Don’t Feel Like a Failure (with Scripture)


I’ve been absent from the blog for nearly two months after over a year of posting either daily or weekly. At first, my health issues took over, and I was just too overwhelmed to post. Then, I started thinking about the direction this blog should take. While I’ll likely still post about ADHD from time to time, for now, I’ve decided to return to the original topic of my blog: my Christian faith. I thought it was only reasonable to be upfront about this for those who may have followed my blog for information about ADHD.


43 Reasons I Don’t Feel Like a Failure

A few weeks ago, there was a discussion on one of my Facebook groups about the fact that many of us feel like a failure on an ongoing, daily basis. I mentioned that I used to feel like a failure all the time but had experienced some victory in my life in this area recently. I promised to share more about that victory. It has taken me a few weeks to compile this list of verses and explanation why I don’t feel like a failure.

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: I’m a huge failure. I’m a failure because of my sin –a failure who is in desperate need of a Savior because I was dead in my trespasses and sins until Jesus saved me. Everyone on this entire planet is. This failure is the leveling of the playing field. Everyone is a failure in need of a Savior.

When other people make us feel like failures by pointing out our failure-ness, they’re either

1) not saved and don’t know that everyone including themselves is failures

OR

2) unsaved religious people who think that their works will save them

OR

3) saved people who think that their works make them better than other people or make them closer to God.

(Another option is that we actually have sin in our lives.  I’ll address that in a minute.)

Even Paul, who was a pretty amazingly awesome Christian and actually talked to Jesus called himself “the chief among sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Anyone going around making other Christians feel inferior does not have a godly attitude or the mind of Christ which would first and foremost include humility.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

The following are 43 verses (in a somewhat random order) that help me when I’m tempted to feel like I’m failing at life. I’m not a failure, because… well, you’ll have to read the list for yourself:


1. Everything will work out for my good if I’m actually saved. He has a plan and a purpose for those who are His. That plan is that we become like Christ, and that plan has been in place since the beginning of time.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30


2. I’m surrendered to God’s will on earth whatever it may be.

“In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Matthew 6:9-13


3. Like Mary, Jesus’ mother, I’m surrendered to God’s will even if it makes me look bad. When, by God’s Spirit, Mary was found to be miraculously pregnant while still a virgin, she declared that she would surrender herself to God’s will even though in her culture and under Hebrew law she faced possible stoning for what others would see as her failing and falling into sin (because she was pregnant out of wedlock). You can read the whole story in Luke 1.

“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38


4. No matter what goes wrong, God knows, and He’s taking care of me.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7


5. God knows exactly what’s going to happen. He’s in control.

“[Man’s] days are determined, and the number of his months is with You, and You have appointed his limits that he cannot pass.” Job 14:5


6. God has given us everything we need for true, godly success. If I don’t have it, I don’t need it. If it seems that I need something for success that I don’t have, I am probably judging myself by human standards and not Biblical or eternal standards.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3


7. God knows my thoughts, my heart, and my intentions. He knows what’s going to happen before it even happens. Any struggle of mine is no surprise to Him.

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar.You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:1-6


8. Before I was even born, God knew what was going to happen.

“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:14-16


9. Everything, even our trials and troubles –even evil people we encounter– have a purpose in God’s plan.

“The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Proverbs 16:4


10. God uses that which seems useless to mortal, sinful man in His plan. So, what may seem to be failings to those around us can still be used of God. Often times, we don’t even understand what God is doing so that we can’t boast.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:25-29


11. Those around us who are not saved will not understand what God is doing in our lives because God’s ways are beneath man to understand.

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:14


12. God is doing greater things than we can even imagine through His power at work in us. How can I allow myself to be discouraged by feelings of failure when Scripture says that He is working in me?

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:21


13. I’m not big enough or strong enough to upset God plans.

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9


14. Even if I fail, God will sustain me.

“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” Proverbs 24:16a


15. God is directing my path and leading my way. How can I be a failure if God is leading me?

“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24


16. Even great men like Paul struggled with their own shortcomings. It didn’t keep God from using them in mighty and incredible ways.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:15, 24-25


17. If I’m Christ’s, God doesn’t condemn me. He looks at me and sees the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ covering my sin. If God doesn’t condemn me, why do I let myself or anyone else condemn me or make me feel like a failure? The only opinion that matters is His.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2


18. God allows weakness, and shortcomings in our lives to keep us humble and dependent upon Him. So that if anything good happens, we will give praise to God and not ourselves.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10


19. Even when I physically can’t do anymore and am at my end, God is my strength and He is my eternal reward which is far more important than this physical life now. I can comfort myself with this fact.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 37:26


20. I have only truly failed if I fail to remain faithful to Christ until the end.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14


21. Oftentimes I feel like a failure because those who have the world’s values are judging me by their value system. If they hated Jesus and the things He stood for, they aren’t going to appreciate me when I hold to the same values He had. Unfortunately, even many who claim to be Christians also have values that are not in line with Christ.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” John 15:18


22. Our Christian lives are based upon grace –God’s favor that we can’t earn and don’t deserve. We aren’t good enough: but God loves us anyway! We shouldn’t feel like we are beneath everyone else. We should live in the grace. If there is real, actual, Bible-verse-to-back-it-up sin, we should absolutely address it. But, most of the time, when we feel like a failure and that we are not good enough, it is because we fail to understand that we were never meant to be good enough. We were meant to throw ourselves, our not-goodness, onto His mercy and grace. If I was good enough, I wouldn’t need Him, I would get the glory, and He wouldn’t be glorified in my life.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:4-8


23. God is continually giving me mercy in spite of my struggles.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 2:22-23


24. God knows we are human, fallible, and sinful. He is compassionate and atones for us (ie: makes reparation for our failings).

“Their heart was not steadfast toward Him; they were not faithful to His covenant. Yet He, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; He restrained His anger often and did not stir up all His wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.” Psalm 78:37-39


25. In the Parable of the Talents about the master and his servants, the only servant who was a failure was the one who hid his talents (his faith and spiritual gifts) and didn’t use them for the master (God). Unless you are hiding your talents and not living your faith, you are not a failure. You can read the whole parable in Matthew 25:14-30.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25:21


26. This earthly life is meant to be a battle with struggles –Paul calls it a fight. There is no reward mentioned for those who never struggle and have smooth sailing. Struggling isn’t failing. Struggling is fighting! The goal is to stay true to Jesus through the struggle. The only way not to struggle is to give up. For the Christian, that is not an option.

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8


27. Even great Bible men could have felt like failures– if they had let themselves if they didn’t understand that everything that happens is God working in our lives. To many people, Paul’s description in the following passage would seem like failure. It certainly wasn’t living a great life by human standards

“Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” 2 Corinthians 11:24-31


28. Whatever is happening in my life serves God’s greater and higher purpose that He can understand, but I cannot.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9


29. Even if the Lord allows me to be a failure by human standards, I should be content with whatever use He has for me. He created me for a purpose that I do not understand, but what I do know is that I don’t have the right to ask the Almighty God why He has chosen to make me a certain way.

“But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” Romans 9:20-21


30. I shouldn’t resent how the Lord is using me or question Him, because –as the Maker– He has the right to do with my life as He pleases even if my life looks like a failure to those who judge me by human standards.

“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?” Isaiah 45:9


31. We are all failures at life because of sin. It is only by God’s grace that we have life and victory over sin. We were dead in our trespasses and sins until Jesus found us. Now, everything we do is because of Him because He made us alive.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-6


32. Everything we do is because He is in us, sustaining us. How can I feel like a failure when He is living in me?

“For ‘In Him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed His offspring.’” Acts 17:28


33. The life I am leading is actually Christ living in me. Would I actually call Christ a failure? Of course not.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20


34. If my failure is actually a sin (i.e. if I can find a properly applied chapter and verse in the Bible that says it is sin –not just someone’s opinion), then I can ask for forgiveness and He is faithful to forgive.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9


35. God’s word comforts us when we are down. When I feel like a failure, I can turn to Scripture for comfort and understanding.

“Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me. How proud I am to bear Your name, O Lord.” Jeremiah 15:16


36. Feeling like a failure is not a feeling of peace. God gives us peace. Trust Him, His timing, and His ways.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” Colossians 3:15


37. In Joseph’s life, there was difficulty after difficulty, but even things that others did to intentionally try to harm him (such as his brothers selling him into slavery) God used for good. This tells us that God is able to use even the difficult, frustrating, overwhelming, and horrible situations in our lives. While He may not make us assistant rulers of a kingdom like He did Joseph, He can still make some good come from it. You can read the whole story of Joseph and how God worked in his life in Genesis 37-47.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20


38. If God is sovereign even over the rulers of the nations of the earth, He is definitely sovereign over my life, and nothing that happens is out of His control. I don’t need to fear that my failings will upset His plans. You can read the whole story about Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar that this verse is taken from in Daniel 4.

“The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” Daniel 4:17


39. Because of God’s grace and justification, no one can condemn me. There is nothing anyone can do or say to take away God’s love from me. Regardless of who accuses me, I’m victorious in Christ.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39


40. The command to us as believers in Christ is to gather for ourselves eternal treasures. That means that we will seem poor –and seem to be making poor choices– to those around us who are not saved because they do not have eternal goals like we do. We will seem like failures to them, but that is because they do not live in light of eternity.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21


41. This next passage is talking to believers about how they live their lives. We know it’s to believers because verse 15 says “he will be saved.” Basically, the things that we do with our lives with be tested one day to see if they have eternal value. Anything that’s eternal (influencing souls, developing my own character, encouraging other believers, witnessing, etc) will last, but anything that is temporal (how clean I kept my house, how nice of a car I had, if my hair was done, how much schoolwork my kids did, etc) is all temporal and will burn because it doesn’t have lasting value beyond this life.

“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15


42. This prayer of the Psalmist has been my prayer for many years: that God would help me to continually see that my time here on this earth is short and that I should be grateful for the years I have even if during those years I’m afflicted by illness and see evil in this world. I have prayed that I would use the time I have wisely, focusing on eternity and what has eternal value, because there are no do-overs in Heaven.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on Your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.” Psalm 90:12-17


43. In any areas in which we do fail, the Spirit helps us, interceding for us.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27


These scriptures and many more help me keep my focus on eternal things, on God’s values. I feel the worst about myself when I start to judge myself by the world’s values or values that falsely claim to be the Bible (but are not really). With God’s values, I’m wrapped in His grace and His love if I’m saved. If I am focused on eternal things and living for Jesus, I am not a failure.

If you’re not saved, or not sure that you’re saved, please follow this link. The Gospel was written so that we may know we have eternal life. It isn’t enough to whisper some prayer, but if you’re actually saved the proof of that salvation is that you will become progressively more like Jesus Christ. For instance, the fruit of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galations 5:22-23 will become part of who you are. If you are not exhibiting fruits of the Spirit, you need to reevaluate if you are really saved.

It is my prayer that this list will encourage and strengthen my sisters in Christ who are being made to feel like failures for not living up to the world’s standard. You, my friends, have a higher calling, an eternal calling in Jesus!

If you’re struggling with yourself worth in Christ or feeling like a failure, please comment (make sure your name is included) and I’ll pray for you. I would be honored to lift you up to the Lord. I also covet your prayers as my health issues are significant.

If the Lord used this post to encouraged you, please consider sharing the post and subscribing to my blog.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

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ADHD, faith

The Shoulds of Life Can Destroy You

Should is a messy word.

It’s a messy word that messes with my mind.

I should do this.

I should be able to do that.

Should is like an arrow that shoots guilt into the heart of the receiver and drags them down to the bottom of the Pit of Despair.

With one word, I can make someone else feel like a total loser.

With one thought, I can make myself feel like a total loser.

As my children get older, should takes on a new approach: I should have done this or I should not have done that.

Should doesn’t just destroy me: it can destroy my kids.

How many times have I said, “Well, you should be able to do that!”

I have kids with special needs and should isn’t a fair gauge.

I have ADHD and some massive health problems. Should isn’t a fair gauge for me either.

Should doesn’t have realistic goals.

It looks at the ideal.

Should is a perfectionist who doesn’t want to face reality.

It asks “What would happen if no one had any roadblocks?” and measures everything by that ruler.

The problem with this? We don’t live in an ideal world.

We don’t live in a world free of roadblocks.

We live in this world.

Everyone –no matter who they are– has some impediment ….mental illness, chronic health issues, learning disabilities, childhood trauma –just to name a few.

Should criticizes and tears down the confidence we have and ignores the progress we’ve made.

It changes around our thought process from being content with what is working to being dissatisfied with life.

This is what I have learned about should:

  1. It’s a liar. A lot of times, the things I tell myself I should be able to do aren’t true, or at least they aren’t true for me. “I should be able to do calculus.” Really? I have dyscalculia, a math-based learning disability. I need to change the should to something rational. Something like, “I might be able to do calculus if I get a tutor who specializes in learning disabilities.” Here’s another, “I should be able to keep my house clean.” That pang of guilt from the should kills me, but it’s also not based in reality. I have over 20 medical diagnoses. Some days, I can barely walk. Would I expect a friend in that condition to keep her house immaculately clean, the standard I hold myself to? No. A more reasonable thing to say to myself is: “I might be able to keep the house clean if I get help.”
  2. It’s destructive. If I allow the shoulds of life to take over my heart and mind it destroys every bit of joy I have. There’s only so much that I can control. What is in my power, I can reasonably expect myself to do. What’s outside my control –my health, my children’s disorders, my friend’s attitudes– those I should not guilt myself about and should not second-, third-, and fourth-guess myself. One thing that’s in my power: how I use my words and what thoughts I entertain and encourage. Every little bit of joy, happiness, and confidence can be destroyed by that little word should if I let it have control over me.
  3. There are many versions of should. For example: “If you really loved her, you would have put her in Karate so she’d be able to protect herself.” What is that statement really other than a veiled should intended to bring shame and heartache? How many times have I hidden a guilt-inducing should in a sentence that stung someone like a dagger?

Should is just a helping verb.

Am I really going to let a little verb have this much power over my life and my family’s life when I have the power to change the narrative, power to change my own outlook and happiness, not to mention that of those around me?

Words are very powerful.

Although we liked to reject the power of words as kids (Remember “I’m rubber –you’re glue….”?), the truth is that words have the power to build up, to tear down, to sustain us through the hard times, or compel us to give up. Words can even make us believe there is no hope.

Worse yet, if we say something often enough or loud enough, we start to believe it no matter how far from the truth it may be.

So, I’ve started intentionally changing my narrative. I am trying to rethink my shoulds.

For instance, when I’m panged with guilt and say to myself, “You should have had him in piano years ago!” I change it to, “I could have had him in piano years ago, but we didn’t have the money. I had to make the best decision for the whole family.”

This is truth.

Truth sets me free.

And, poof, the guilt is gone.

Should has lost its power.

When I’m frustrated and think “He should be able to write this” about one of my kids, I change the words I’m using to “could.” “He could write this if he didn’t have this learning disability. I’ve worked really really hard to get him to the place where he is. He may not be where other kids are, but he’s actually doing really well.”

I’m truth-checking my own statements so they do the least damage possible to me and to those around me.

I know should is a liar and that his lies are destructive. So, I’m not letting his lies –no matter what form they take — settle in my heart and mind and contaminate my joy and peace.

Check your shoulds at the door.

Don’t let them ruin you –or those you care about.

You have the power over your inner voice and over the words you speak to others.

Speak truth.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

If you found this helpful, you might find these posts about seeking peace and about giving yourself and your kids grace helpful, too.

17 Things Your ADHD Child Would Tell You If He Could

What Is My ADHD Child’s Executive Function Tank

How Do I Do It All?

faith, myths

The Bible Doesn’t Call Us to Host Dinner Parties | A Discussion About the True Meaning of Hospitality

More than once recently, a young mom with a bunch of little kids in tow has lamented to me that she’s falling behind on her job as a Christian…

…Because she’s not hosting dinner parties.

Well-known Christian authors have published books about the importance of having dinner at a table and inviting many people to that table –often with scripture that supposedly backs this up.

I have some shocking news: not only does scripture not tell us to host dinner parties, it doesn’t even command us to have dinner at a table.

Ok, now, catch your breath.

I know I just contradicted hundreds of years of Christian traditions.

But, Christian traditions do not equal Bible commands.

In fact, what we really need to do is compare the traditions of men with scripture.

Did you know that the Bible commands us to not get caught up in the traditions of men —especially if those traditions are based on philosophies that are not according to Christ?

So what is the definition of hospitality?

“Friendly and welcoming to strangers or guests” according to Google.

One Bible commentary defines it as “willingness to help the weary and heavy-laden ones of the world.”

And what does the Bible have to say about hospitality?

How is the word hospitality used in the Bible?

What are these verses that are misapplied and used to make moms of little children feel like failures because all their energy is going into providing for and caring for little eternal souls instead of cooking fancy meals?

Aren’t little souls supposed to be a mama’s first responsibility?

And, who is daring to make a mama who is focusing on those little souls feel bad about her properly-placed priorities?

One rule of Bible interpretation is that you use the most detailed verses on a topic to help explain the less clear verses.

Another rule is that you take the historical context and passage context into consideration when applying scripture.

That means that we cannot pick a verse out and use it however we want to –we have to figure out what the verse was intended to mean.

The most detailed verses regarding hospitality are the following verses:

“Do not neglect hospitality, because through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 (MEV)

The KJV doesn’t even use the word “hospitality” in this verse but gets right to the point of focusing on strangers:

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)

Another verse on this topic lists the qualifications for a widow to be worthy of financial support from the church:

“Do not let a widow be counted unless she is over sixty years old, has been the wife of one man, is well attested in good works, if she has brought up children, has lodged strangers, has washed the saints’ feet, has relieved the afflicted, and has diligently followed every good work.” 1 Timothy 5:10

Other translations say she doesn’t qualify unless she is “known for showing hospitality.”

“Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without complaining.” 1 Peter 4:8-9

Here are some things we know based on the above verses: we are commanded to show hospitality to other Christians according to 1 Peter and to show hospitality to strangers according to Hebrews.

Now, let’s look at the historical context of these verses.

What was going on in the world at the time? The New Testament was written against the backdrop of the Roman Empire.

Christians were being persecuted and were fleeing for their lives.

We know this because many of the letters in the New Testament telling the believers how to handle persecution.

Do you think that with all that persecution going on that the writers of the New Testament were actually telling the Christians to host dinner parties?

No, that’s ridiculous!

They are saying something like this: “When strangers who are believers come to your town fleeing persecution, open up your home to them and help them.”

See the context there? How that fits into history and agrees with the passages?

Hospitality in the New Testament isn’t what we think of as hospitality today.

It isn’t making an elaborate meal and keeping a house clean for people to come have a party.

In the context of scripture, hospitality is opening your home to or helping those who are in need.

While the Bible doesn’t specifically say that you cannot open your home to unbelievers, there are specific commands to be hospitable to other believers.

So, mama with a bunch of little kids who feel like you are not being hospitable, let me ask you a question: if someone knocked on your door today and they were injured and needed help, would you help them?

That is being hospitable.

If you knew a mom who was being beaten by her husband and she came to you and said “My children and I need a safe place to stay,” would you help her?

That is being hospitable.

If there was a car accident outside your house and people were hurt would you go out and help?

That is being hospitable.

This is helping true needs –serving and ministering.

And, it has nothing to do with a clean house, fine china, and elaborately planned dinner menus.

If you think hospitality is about those things, you are missing the point.

Hospitality in the context of the Bible is meeting the needs of other people and helping them when they need help.

That idea is further backed up by Hebrews 12:13 which says:

“Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality.”

The command to be hospitable isn’t given to just women, either:

“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach.” (1 Timothy 3:2)

As a person with chronic illness, I may not be able to many things –I certainly am not healthy enough to host dinner parties, and we rarely even eat at the table because the table is usually covered in school supplies and groceries I haven’t had the strength or energy to put away yet.

Shocking, I know!

But, if you have a need, I will be there for you if I at all can.

We know a Christian family who lives a ways away from us and kind of in the middle of nowhere.

We were traveling and needed a place to crash for a few hours so my boys who were little at the time could take a nap while my husband was working that day.

Unfortunately, circumstances around the job he was working had prohibited me from making solid plans earlier –I didn’t know I needed a place to stay until that day, and we didn’t know another soul in any direction for hours and hours except one family.

This family refused to let us come by their house even for a few hours.

I was desperate for somewhere to go because my husband needed the car to go to the job he was there for –he needed the car for the job, and the children and I were not allowed on the job site or else I could have just stayed in the car and had the children sleep there.

Every plan I came up to address our situation fell through.

I ended up paying for a room at a hotel so my children could take a nap: we paid hundreds of dollars that we couldn’t really afford to use a hotel room for a few hours when our friends were right down the road unwilling to help us.

Although I’m sure their reasons seemed sound to them, it seemed like when we were really in need, they refused to help –like they viewed us as an inconvenience rather than a Christian brother and sister in need or a ministry opportunity.

That’s the point of hospitality: helping those in need.

It isn’t about having a finely set dinner table –it is about helping others when they are in need.

I have always wondered how I would respond to someone’s need –and planning and writing this post has made me rethink how I address requests for help.

I mean, sometimes, I am just unable to help.

If you call me and say “I really need a ride,” and I am in too much pain to drive that day, I cannot help you –but, I would probably try to find someone else to help you.

A while back, a car broke down across the street from my house.

I live on the busiest street in my town: it is the main road between our little town and the next big city where most people work.

I joke that the whole down drives by my house every day.

The car had been sitting there for a while along the side of the road with traffic whizzing by it.

The inhabitants didn’t get out of the car, and I wasn’t sure at first that there was even anyone in there.

I was getting ready for a medical procedure, and we really had to leave by a certain time.

Then I noticed movement in the car.

I wasn’t sure what to do.

I was concerned about their car being in traffic.

I was concerned that maybe they didn’t have a phone or that they needed help.

So, I finished getting myself ready to go and walked carefully across the street.

They had broken down, they had a phone, and they were waiting for a relative to come help them –he was about an hour away.

I offered to get my boys to push their car out of traffic, but they didn’t want to.

Thankfully, it was not hot that day, and the mom seemed to be entertaining her munchkins to pass the time.

I offered use of our bathroom, but she said they were fine.

I didn’t know them and didn’t feel comfortable leaving them in my house while I was gone: I needed to leave for the doctor’s office in less than 10 minutes.

I did the only thing that I could think of: I went into the house, gathered up some bananas and bottled water and took it over to the car for them, and I told her they were welcome to run around in our yard and use our lawn chairs while they waited if they wanted to.

She had mentioned that they were headed to someone’s house for lunch before they broke down; I would have provided something more to eat, but that was about all I had because I really needed to go grocery shopping.

She thanked me profusely, and I just tried to be as kind and helpful as I could be under the circumstance.

I kinda felt like there was more I should have done, but I couldn’t figure out what.

By the time I got back from the doctor’s office, they were gone.

Do you see someone in need? Help them if you can!

Even a little help is better than no help.

When the scripture says you may be helping angels unaware, it doesn’t mean that one of the people from your church who come over for a dinner party is secretly an angel.

It is talking about helping strangers.

I have seen my parents live out this idea of helping people in need –they have done it before my very eyes, and I am honored to be able to see their faith in action.

I have seen them help people who have needs –like being stranded in one state trying to get to another– and my parents have dropped everything and driven those families to the place they were trying to get to even hours away, provided food for them, diapers and clothes for their children, and made sure they were in a safe place once they got to the new location.

I have no doubt in my mind that my parents’ hospitality to strangers left a lasting impression and a strong testimony to those to whom they have ministered.

I implore you, do not reduce the concept of hospitality down to a dinner party.

If you do, you miss the point.

You do not have to have a clean house to minister to other people’s needs.

My house was not clean when I was helping the family with the broken-down car, and I would have brought them in my messy house if they needed to use the bathroom.

If I hadn’t needed to go –and been unable to reschedule the appointment, I would have even brought them into my home until their help arrived.

Do you think that the lady trying to get away from domestic abuse cares when the last time your living room was vacuumed? Or your shower clean out?

So, mama out there with a house full of little people feeling like you can’t be hospitable: look for ways that God brings people into your life that you can minister to.

Our responsibility is to focus on the eternal things in our lives: the souls of your children matter more than the condition of your house; the souls of those around us who are in need matter more than the condition of your house.

You do not need a clean house to help other people.

And, you certainly don’t need to host a dinner party to do it.

Those who say hospitality is about a dinner party are missing the point of these verses and missing opportunities to minister to others.

Not only that, they are teaching –erroneously– that women who are unable to host dinner parties are somehow in sin for not doing so.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with hosting dinner parties, but that is not what the Bible is commanding us to do.

We need to read the Bible with the context of what it was written and what God was trying to communicate through the original authors instead of simply viewing the words through our modern, wealthy, American culture.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith

How Long Does It Take to Read Each Book of the Bible? Plus a FREE Printable!

Do you ever have a few extra minutes and think of picking up the Bible to read and then don’t?

It happens to me sometimes, especially when I am sitting waiting for doctor appointments.

I have this perception that it takes so long to accomplish reading a book of the Bible, and I am reluctant to get started without knowing if I can finish before my time is up.

So, I hatched this idea: how long does it take to read each book of the Bible?

If I knew that, I could choose a book that I had time to finish before my appointment.

It would help me fit in reading times without getting interrupted.

That’s where this list came from.

Online, I found a list of every book of the Bible and how many words were in each book.

Then, based on the average reading speed according to trusty ol’ Google of 200 words per minute, I figured out how long each book would take to read.

Although I actually read faster than 200 words per minute, I found that when I was testing these estimated times for reading the books of the Bible, I read slower than the estimated time.

I think that this is because I tend to meditate on the scripture and mentally compare it to other passages.

It would take longer if you were reading it out loud as the average person speaks about 150 words per minute when reading aloud –however, I have found audio Bibles to be useful tools especially when I am struggling to read due to my health issues.

I hope that this will encourage others to read more of the Bible –myself included.

Although I have read through the entire Bible more than once in the past, I would like to do it again if my health doesn’t prohibit me.

It doesn’t seem that daunting when you realize you could sit down and read the book of Jude, for example, in about 3 minutes.

How Long Does It Take To Read a Book of the Bible-CLICK HERE DOWNLOAD THE PDF: “How Long Does It Take To Read a Book of the Bible?”

Save this image to Pinterest for future reference, or download and print the PDF to keep in your Bible for a reference!

If you found this helpful, follow me on Facebook or subscribe to the blog to get future posts.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith

How Do I Do It All? Plus A Free Peace Day Challenge Printable

#biblicalpeacedaychallenge

The last week or so has been challenging for me.

I am having flare-ups from my car accident.

Although the car accident was over six months ago, I seem to be healing more slowly than average due to the complexities of my health issues.

I am particularly struggling to remain peaceful with the amount of pain I am dealing with –often so much that I cannot even walk.

Earlier this week someone asked me how I do it all –how do I run a house, stay organized, do everything that I am supposed to do?

There is a simple answer: I don’t.

I simply don’t do it all.

I cannot do it all.

And, I don’t believe that God expects me to.

Every day, I am expected to get done what I can do.

If I cannot do it, I was not expected to do it that day.

God doesn’t expect from us what we cannot give.

He knows that we are frail humans, and He knows what we are capable of.

I have a rule that if I can’t do it without yelling, being unkind or not being peaceful, I’m not doing it.

My testimony in front of my children is more important than the task.

I am struggling to maintain that testimony, but I am striving to do so in spite of daily pain and immobility.

I don’t have some magic solution to life that makes me able to handle all of life’s challenges beautifully.

I am not super organized and a super mom.

What I have done is I have trusted God with the things that I cannot control.

I have trusted Him with the things I cannot do.

If I cannot do it today –either because my health or circumstances prohibit me– then God did not intend me to do it today.

If I understand this, it alleviates the frustration and guilt associated with trying to do it all and failing.

If what I do today is completely surrendered to the Lord, if I am okay with whatever He brings my way, then I will not be angry when I am unable to do the things that I thought that I was supposed to do.

I only feel out of control when I fail to remember that He is in control.

So, how do I do it all?

I don’t.

I don’t even try to do it all.

I try to do what is truly important –things that have eternal value.

I try to be a servant to my family –as much as I can be in a state of ongoing health problems.

And I surrender the rest to the Lord.

Most of the problems I have –most of the time that I have had anger– is when my ideas of how my day should go come face to face with how the Lord is allowing my day to go.

When things don’t go my way, it often results in anger if I cannot remember that He is in control of all, knowing all, directing all.

Far more important than if my house was cleaned today….

Or if dinner was made on time…

Or if all the dishes were done…

Or if my homeschool plan was fulfilled…

… is my testimony before my children.

How I respond when things do not go my way matters.

How I handle the imperfect situations shows my children how they should respond when things inevitably do not go their way.

It is our testimony to our children about whether or not we really believe that God is in control.

We say that we believe God is in control.

But do we show that in how we act?

The things that need to be done are never more important than the attitude we have while doing them.

We tend to think that our character is reflected in what we accomplish –if we get enough done– when in reality our character is reflected in how we do what we do.

The amount accomplished has little to do with it.

Do only what you can do with an attitude that honors the Lord!

We should be far more concerned with how we do things than how many things we accomplish.

We can trust what happens to the Lord who is in control of all.

And, we can never go wrong by focusing on our character –which is eternal– over our to-do list –which is temporal.

Below you can download some free printable to remind you to focus on your testimony to your children and family.

Choose PeaceClick here to download the above image

 

I have a rule that if I can't do it without yelling, being unkind or not being peaceful, I'm not doing it. My testimony in front of my children is more important than the task.

Click here to download the above printable

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith

Jesus Wants You to Be at Peace

Do you feel at peace?

Do you feel that you have calm in the storm you are facing right now?

Do you feel anchored and able to face all the things coming at you?

Do you feel that you have the tools you need to deal with the situations in your life?

Are you confident that you can handle any situation with peace?

Biblical Peace Day Challenge

I recently wrote a series about maintaining your peace and calm in the midst of life’s chaos.

I am the first to admit that I have not entirely mastered this topic, but I have made significant headway based on the methods I wrote about in these posts.

Now, when I lose my cool, I have the tools I need to look introspectively, observe my behavior and motivation, and adjust my behavior in the future.

The strength that comes from being peaceful is not something we normally think about.

We normally think that loud is strong –not quiet.

Never assume that loud is strong and quiet is weak.

Peace is within our grasp: it is what we are called to.

The following are the posts in the series I wrote about getting to a place of peace. If you find yourself without peace, yelling, stressing, constantly running trying to get everything done, take some time to read these.

Peace is possible.

Here are the posts in this series.

God has called us to peace….Peace Day Challenge, Part 1: We are Called to Peace

My testimony about learning to live in peace in spite of chronic health issues….Peace Day Challenge, Part 2: Even If the Healing Never Comes: Choosing Contentment

Verses to remind us to live in peace….Peace Day Challenge, Part 3: Scriptures Verses About Living in Peace

This is my challenge to you to spend one day in peace according to my conditions and see if it doesn’t make a difference in your life….Peace Day Challenge, Part 4: The Actual Peace Day Challenge

An example in my life of struggling to learn to be peaceful…..Peace Day Challenge, Part 5: Yes, I Still Lose My Cool Sometimes

This is how I use my peace day experiences to make my regular days function better….Peace Day Challenge, Part 6: Peace Day Challenge Reflections

Here are a few things I have learned from my Peace Day reflections:

1. Eat first when making dinner. Seriously. If you lose your temper while making dinner, try eating a high protein snack before starting. It will help you maintain your peace.

2. When you are in pain, do not try to correct your children. You will end up yelling at them. Ask your husband to do it or deal with it later.

3. If you hurt when you get home from the grocery store, wait until tomorrow to put non-perishables away. It won’t matter if the grocery bags sit on the floor for a day or two. If you’re in pain and push yourself, you will be impatient and unkind.

4. If you are stressed out, order pizza or go get a rotisserie chicken. It will give you time to relax and isn’t that expensive. Trying to make dinner when you are already stressed out will not help you maintain a peaceful existence.

5. On days when you don’t feel well, skip homeschool classes that require your help. It will use up all your limited energy and then you won’t have the energy for dinner or taking care of your family.

6. Get off social media when it is making you grumpy. You will transfer that to your interaction with your family. If you are grumpy, focus on God’s goodness instead of social media nastiness.

Those are just a few adjustments I have made to how I handle my life as a result of focusing on peace.

It is my prayer that this concept will be a blessing to those who read about it and bring peace to the homes of many families.

You can have peace in your house, mamas.

Take the Peace Day challenge!

Jesus wants you to be at peace.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith, homeschooling

40 Printable Bible Verse Flash Cards

Due to my children’s learning disabilities, they really struggled with memorization.

For that reason, I backed off Bible verse memorization a while ago and have just recently decided to revisit it.

I started by making a list of verses that I thought were important for them to have memorized and made them into flashcards.

Some of these they already have memorized, and others are simply my favorite verses.

It was important to me to avoid verses that have confusing interpretations.

This is just the start of Bible curriculum I am compiling for my boys.

Here is a sample of the flashcards.

Sample Bible Verse Flash Card.PNG

Download the PDFs (20 flashcards in each PDF; PDFs updated)

Bible Verse Flash Cards 1

Bible Verse Flash Cards 2

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

faith

Peace Day Challenge, Part 6 | Peace Day Challenge Reflections

If you’ve been following along with my Biblical Peace Day posts (#biblicalpeacedaychallenge on Facebook), you might notice that I got off my originally planned schedule.

Ironically, this whole series has been about how to handle situations when things don’t go as planned –because, let’s be honest when do things actually go as planned, like, ever?

So, I had the opportunity to test my ideas first hand this week and see if they really work –I am relieved to be able to say that my approach worked.

Earlier this week we talked about seeking peace and choosing to do activities that you could do while maintaining your peace.

After all, we are called to be peaceful.

Then, how do we deal with the things that stress us out?

If we are choosing to be peaceful what do we do when faced with things that do not bring us peace?

The following is a list of things that have helped me, as well as PDF print outs to help you brainstorm solutions for your particular situation, to help you find peaceful approaches to your stressful issues.


1. Pray

I have been able to pray myself through stressful situations.

It doesn’t fix every problem, and sometimes –like in the case of a panic attack or health crisis– I need medical attention and not solely prayer.

But, we are commanded to pray without ceasing, and we know that we are supposed to make our requests known to God.

Whether God chooses to answer us with a “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait,” prayer can help.

But, it is more than just telling God what we want or need.

Prayer can have a meditative and calming affect on us.

Even if it doesn’t change our situation, it can have a calming effect on us.

It helps us to know that God is listening and working behind the scenes even if we cannot see what He is doing.

Stress makes you believe that everything has to happen right now. Faith reassures you that everything will happen in God’s timing.

Reminding myself that God is ultimately in control can have a soothing effect on my nerves.

I have even been known to chant, “God is in control” over and over under my breath to calm myself.

Don’t forget to give thanks for everything –even the things you don’t feel thankful for.

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies but the thankful heart will find in every hour, some heavenly blessings. —Henry Ward Beecher


2. Quote scripture

I have been known to quote scripture over and over to help destress.

The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do it me?

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Neither height nor depth nor any other thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

Or “He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.”

I will use scripture I’ve memorized as a mantra, a chant to soothe my anxiety and stress.

My children jokingly tell me to go to my happy place.

I have a funny story about that which I will share another time.

Other verses that might help you:

God is faithful.

God is good.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Meditating on Scripture can help keep us calm during difficult times.


3. Listen to calming music

I like praise music.

It helps me focus on the Lord and helps me get through hard stuff.

Praise music can have a huge calming effect on me, but I cannot guarantee it will have that effect on everyone.

Others may find that classical music or some other kind soothes and calms them better.

I have a playlist on YouTube just for this purpose.

There are many many songs that were written about God’s faithfulness and trusting God during the hard times.

I cling to those songs and sing them to myself when I need to be reminded that the Lord is still there and still in control.

The Bible never once says “Figure it out.” But over and over it says “Trust God.” He’s already got it all figured out.


4. Get medical treatment

Adhd, anxiety, thyroid, adrenal problems –and more– can cause a difficulty in keeping calm and peaceful.

People who are emotionally, psychologically, and physically healthy don’t react badly to stress.

I mean it: our bodies were created to handle normal amounts of stress like making dinner, cleaning houses, and teaching our children.

Abnormal amounts of stress can cause trauma.

If basic things that probably shouldn’t be stressing you are stressing you, you need to get some help.

Many times, our natural instincts take over, but they are misfiring like I described in my previous post.

Don’t give up looking for help until you get it.

Be your own advocate, and push if you have to –I had to keep pushing until I got answers.

If you’re not well, you’re not going to be equipped to take care of your family.

If you’re not well, it’s not your fault.

Cut yourself slack.

You can only function as well as your body and mind are able to.

Seriously, get help.

You owe it to your family to take care of yourself so that you can take care of them.

I know first hand that you can’t take care of others if you can’t even take care of yourself.


5. Accept what you cannot control

Accept it if it’s not perfect.

Be more concerned about your testimony –the condition of your heart– than your house –the external and visual conditions of your body, house, car, family, etc.

Men judge the outside, but the Lord judges the heart.

Me getting to the point that it was okay if things weren’t perfect was huge!

God cares what your children’s hearts look like, not what your homeschool room looks like –Karen Debeus

God also cares about what your heart looks like, not what your house looks like. I have a whole post about this topic.

If you are here, God put you here for a reason.

Accept that He has a reason for what is happening.

It is in your broken places you are most often used by God. –Christine Cain


6. Observe your own behavior

Learn the clues as to when you’re reaching your limit.

Back off before you get to the point of yelling or being overwhelmed.

I have a whole post here about learning to identify your anger triggers and curbing it.

Whether you have a slow build to crazy mom or you go from sane to crazy mom in .02 seconds, know yourself.

We can’t always stop ourselves before we lose it, but we can learn from it —and apologize to those around us for our bad behavior.

When you do lose it, make note of what your trigger was.

Remember that the goal is to stay a peace and calm –no matter what happens.

“Never assume that loud is strong and quiet is weak.”

Yesterday, my trigger was arguing children.

You can see my post about this yesterday.

I am sure I am the only one who dislikes arguing children, right?

If you’re not aware of what you’re doing and how you’re responding ask your spouse or oldest child to tell you when you start getting snappy.

And then, actually listen and don’t snap when they tell you.

I have been guilty of biting my oldest’s head off when he tells me I’m overreacting.

He’s very faithful to tell me when I am not acting politely.


7. Be pre-emptive.

Figure out what is causing you stress, and then brain storm solutions so you can address the problem next time before you reach critical mass.

For example, if the dishes bother you and cause you stress like making you grumpy or yell, consider creative solutions such as:

  • using paper plates,
  • buying disposable baking pans,
  • hiring the teen down the road to come catch you up on dishes once a week,
  • asking your mom or friend for some help,
  • buying a dishwasher or a better quality dishwasher if you have one already,
  • teaching a child to do it with you if you can,
  • focusing on making one pot meals so you have less to wash,
  • making larger meals and have left overs so you are cooking and using dishes less often.

I have tried all of these and more to help me deal with the stress of doing the dishes.

For me, it is more than just stress since doing the dishes causes pain.

Some of these might cost more money or be less than the perfect solution, but is trying to appear perfect better than doing what works?

Better than not snapping and yelling at your children?

Remember the true show of your faith is in your character, in how you treat your children and husband.

Displaying good character and maintaining your testimony matters far more than how your house looks or if you are doing things the “right” way.

Since the Bible doesn’t tell us how to run our houses, there is no right way.

Our characters matter.

If I cannot give my children a perfect mother, I can at least give them more of the one they’ve got –and make that one more loving. I will be available. I will take time to listen, time to play, time to be home…, time to counsel and encourage. –Ruth Bell Graham

What did you know stressed you out before you even started your peace day?

What did you not realize stressed you out until you tried it and realized you weren’t doing it peacefully?

Now, how can you address those issues that stress you out?

Can you ask for help?

Delegate?

Hire someone?

Trade with a friend –like “Hey, I’ll watch your kids for a date night if you help me file these papers I hate filing,” for example?

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. –C.S. Lewis

If you need help with brainstorming ideas, comment here or on the Facebook page, and I will try to help you come up with more ideas.


8. Lower your expectations

Let’s say, for example, that you’re always exhausted by the time dinner time comes and often end up yelling.

What’s worse: that your child watches 30 or 40 minutes of Clifford the Big Red Dog while you make dinner in peace or that you do it the way you think is ideal and risk your testimony by yelling and losing your temper?

If dinner stresses you but you don’t want to use the TV, why not choose very simple dinners?

Think outside the box and make choices by putting an emphasis on your character –can you stay peaceful?

Can you maintain your testimony?

Can you do it without yelling, grousing, or otherwise being unkind?

If your house isn’t perfectly clean because you’re focused on little souls,you’re doing it right. –Sarah Forbes


9. Apologize

When you lose your temper — and you will eventually— apologize to your children and spouse.

Model good behavior which means if you can’t do it right, apologize for the failure.

Humble yourself and admit you’re not perfect.

They don’t need a perfect mom.

They need a surrendered mom.

They need an honest mom.

Maintaining your peace and your testimony in front of your family is far more important than anything you need to get done.

These children are your mission field.

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”

Find ways, to do what needs to be done without ruining your testimony.

I thought parenting was going to portray my strengths, never realising that God had ordained it to reveal my weaknesses. –Dave Harvey


10. Learn to let go

Learning to let go of things you cannot control is not easy, and I’ll not insult your intelligence by suggesting that it is.

However, nothing kills our peace faster than fighting for an ideal we cannot attain.

The Lord uses disruptions to keep us dependent on Him.

I have a whole post about things you can and cannot control.


11. Find a support system

Remember that you’re surrounded by a cloud of unseen witnesses cheering you on to victory in Christ.

Expose yourself to people who have faced trials and been faithful.

Consider reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, for example.

Here’s a quote from fiction but that I find very faith-challenging:

“If the Lord will, He can save us even from this fearful peril; if not, let us calmly yield our lives into His hand, and think of the joy and blessedness of finding ourselves for ever and ever united in that happy home above. Even death is not too bitter, when it does not separate those who love one another.” –Johann David Wyss in The Swiss Family Robinson (This is what the father in the story told his children when they were abandoned by the crew sailing their ship and when they faced almost-certain death in the storm-raging seas.)

Church, family, friends, Facebook groups, and more can all form the basis of support that you can go to for help.

A counselor can help you with frustration.

Call a friend, and rant and rave –I do this, and it helps.

Some people process better when they talk it out.

If talking it out makes you more upset then don’t do this.

If it helps you calm down, do it.

Don’t ignore the importance of prayer as mentioned above.


Here are two files I made to help us list out our triggers and possible solutions to those triggers. One is list-style, and the other is a mind-map.

PDF Peace Day Reflections Brainstorming Stressors And Possible Solutions (Mindmapping)

PDF Peace Day Reflections Brainstorming Stressors And Possible Solutions (List Style)

Never feel guilty for wanting peace.

We all need times of peace for our sanity.

You’re actually doing better for your family by seeking peace.

Even though it is contrary to the way we are told we should be.

Peace comes from contentment and resting in God.

Contentedness is a spiritual issue, not a practical one. Contentedness will not come from being more organized, being a better wife, keeping a nicer home, living in a different place, taking more time for yourself, or whatever it is you think might help. Contentedness is learned by accepting life each day as God gives it to you, and adjusting your expectations to life’s limitations. — Sally Clarkson

How much better could your home life be if you could keep yourself peaceful?

If you could parent from a place of peace?

It is my prayer that peace would rule your heart.

Blessing,

Sarah Forbes

Here are the posts in this series. I will add the links as I publish the posts.

Peace Day Challenge, Part 1: We are Called to Peace

Peace Day Challenge, Part 2: Even If the Healing Never Comes: Choosing Contentment

Peace Day Challenge, Part 3: Scriptures Verses About Living in Peace

Peace Day Challenge, Part 4: The Actual Peace Day Challenge

Peace Day Challenge, Part 5: Yes, I Still Lose My Cool Sometimes

Peace Day Challenge, Part 6: Peace Day Challenge Reflections

faith

Peace Day Challenge, Part 5 | Yes, I Still Lose My Cool Sometimes

The Lord definitely has a sense of humor.

Here I am writing each day this week about how I have gotten this peace thing figured out, and He –knowing that I need to stay humble– allows my day to take a twist.

If you have been following along this week, you know that this– part 5 –was supposed to be posted yesterday.

But, in true peace-seeking fashion, I had to put it off until today because I was unable to maintain my peace while dealing with everything else and trying to write this post.

On the one hand it is ironic and on the other hand fitting: it’s ironic that I would write about something I still struggle with, but fitting that I should write about it because I am so intimately familiar with the struggle.

I obviously haven’t mastered this, but my system seems to be working for me.

Yesterday was a long day and during the day I addressed some stressful-to-me things which I had put off but which needed to be deal with (for example, getting an estimate to replace a broken window in the house).

By dinner time, I was exhausted –remember all my health issues?

But I had the post that needed to be written.

I kept writing down ideas, but not actually writing the post because I was having a hard time finding the focus and energy.

Then, my children started arguing.

Arguing children is a trigger for me.

They make me just batty.

And, just like that, the peace that I had been holding by a thread all day long was gone.

Rather than do any of the things I know to do, I started getting angry and upset.

My whole family noticed and started looking at each other and me very concerned.

I really try hard not to lose my cool and to remain peaceful.

My husband lovingly –as politely as he could– told me that he thought I was overreacting.

I was, but I couldn’t see it.

I seemed to be making sense to me even though I wasn’t making sense to everyone else.

It became apparent that I was not handling the situation as well as I had at first thought, so I sent my children to bed (it was after 9 pm already).

I vented to my husband about everything that I felt had gone wrong, and –to his credit–, he just let me vent and didn’t tell me that I was irrational or too emotional.

He knows that doesn’t help –that escalates the situation because I need to be heard and feel validated in feeling what I feel even if what I feel isn’t accurate.

Feelings are real even if they lie to you; they may not be telling you the truth, but they are what you feel.

They get a voice, but they do not get to make the decisions.

I knew once I had lost it that I was not going to be able to get back to a place of peace because I was simply too tired.

So, I put myself to bed.

By then, I was so unexplainably angry that I had a very hard time sleeping.

But, I care about my testimony to my family, so I make myself go to bed and stay away if I can’t behave properly.

My testimony is more important than my to-do list.

This morning, after a conversation with my doctor, I realized that I was detoxing and it was making me angry.

Anger is not an uncommon reaction to detox, and if you’ve done a detox before, you know what I am talking about.

I am feeling much better this morning after talking to my doctor and adjusting my treatment plan accordingly.

When my children got up this morning, I apologized.

Here’s how it works in my mind: I am apprenticing my children.

They are learning how to behave in life based on how I behave.

Ideally, I would model good behavior, but –if I cannot– then I had better ask for forgiveness.

I try to be as good a model as I can, but if I cannot, I had better be humble enough to admit when I am wrong –or else I have no right to demand that they admit when they are wrong.

I cannot expect them to do what I will not do.

Apologies were given and accepted.

And, I am a little bit humbler as I address this issue today.

See, physically and mentally healthy bodies –and emotionally and spiritually healthy hearts– are made to process stress without having bad reactions like anger, frustration, freaking out and losing control.

If any of those things are out of balance: if your body or mind is not healthy, if your emotions or your soul are not in a healthy place, then that will impede on your ability to keep yourself calm in the chaos.

We tend to think that it is all spiritual, but it isn’t just spiritual.

We think that because one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control then we should always be self-controlled.

So, if you don’t have self-control, you must not be being controlled by the spirit, right?

I mean, I see the logic there, and I sort of agree, except that we have instincts and impulses that take over sometimes.

One of the times in my life when I have felt the most out of control was labor.

But, was I really out of control?

No, my body had taken over and was controlling a natural process.

The same is true for other situations.

For instance, when dealing with anxiety (not a rational fear, but irrational), your body has misidentified something as dangerous which is not dangerous.

It is using a basic fight-or-flight response because your body thinks it is protecting you.

Are you out of control?

Sort of.

But it is more accurately described as your body not doing what it is supposed to do –because your body should know what is actually dangerous and what isn’t, not try to flee something that is benign like a nonpoisonous spider.

A natural instinct is taking over but that instinct isn’t helping –kind of like if you went into labor when you weren’t actually pregnant.

I struggle with self-control when I have to fight against the disease ridden body that I live in to keep my peace.

It is hard, but it is not entirely impossible.

This is why you have to address your issues!

It’s getting better the more I practice and the more I try to be aware of my own actions and my motivations.

Yesterday, my son asked what I was writing about for my blog post, and when I told him about being peaceful he gave me a smirk and chuckled.

I think he thought it was ironic that I was writing on that topic this week!

It is something I am striving for, but not something that I have conquered.

In fact, I will be using the mindmap I made for this week to seek out solutions to my own anger issues last night (more on the mindmap tomorrow).

Even though I was being angry because of the detox, there was still a trigger.

In this case, the trigger of my anger was my children arguing.

I really dislike it when they bicker especially if it is about something that is not important –the pettier the topic the more irritated I am likely to get.

Because I know this is my trigger, now I can find better solutions so that when this issue comes up again –and it will– I can choose to handle it a different way than losing my cool.

Some ideas of things I could do are: defer to my husband if he is home, call my mother and ask her to negotiate between the children, pray first (this couldn’t hurt, huh?), separate them until I can calm down, etc.

I’m going to leave this here and pick it up tomorrow.

I have a lot more to say about this topic, but it is date night tonight and I need to get ready to go.

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes

Here are the posts in this series. I will add the links as I publish the posts.

Peace Day Challenge, Part 1: We are Called to Peace

Peace Day Challenge, Part 2: Even If the Healing Never Comes: Choosing Contentment

Peace Day Challenge, Part 3: Scriptures Verses About Living in Peace

Peace Day Challenge, Part 4: The Actual Peace Day Challenge

Peace Day Challenge, Part 5: Yes, I Still Lose My Cool Sometimes

Peace Day Challenge, Part 6: Peace Day Challenge Reflections


If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy these:

Choosing Joy: How an Attitude of Thankfulness Changed My Life

Lessons from Jonah

When You Find You Can’t Do It All

Independentism: The Negative Effects of Self-sufficiency on Women in the Church

faith

Peace Day Challenge, Part 4 | The (Actual) Peace Day Challenge

The Peace Day Challenge

For the last few days on the blog we have been talking about seeking peace and living in peace, and I have been hinting about my Peace Day Challenge.

See the bottom of this post for links to previous posts on this topic.

So, what is the Peace Day Challenge?

I challenge you to spend one day practicing peace.

In your heart.

In your home.

In your relationships.

Biblical peace.

We are called to peace, to be peaceful.

This was discussed in a previous post called Peace Day Challenge, Part 1: We are Called to Peace.

So, why am I doing a peace challenge?

Because I think that most of us don’t even know what it is like to exist peacefully.

All we know is pushing, and striving, and drama, and stress, and racing to the next appointment or activity.

A Peace Day allows us to stop fighting, stop struggling, stop trying to fix everything in our lives, every last problem and allows us to just be.

It teaches us to be peaceful in the chaos.

In spite of the chaos.

God can use that chaos for our good, as I have mentioned in my previous post called Peace Day Challenge, Part 2: Even If the Healing Never Comes: Choosing Contentment which is my testimony about how far God has brought me in being content and seeking peace in Him regardless of my circumstances.

God can use that chaos for good, so why are we constantly freaking out about it and fighting it?

If you feel like a hamster on a wheel, constantly running and pushing and trying and never getting anywhere and just getting angrier and more frustrated, this post is for you, and I challenge you to try a Peace Day —a day of peace.

The whole world won’t fall apart if for one day you stop the rat race.

I promise.

I am giving you permission to take one day off to seek peace.

To practice peace.

We take one day a year in the USA to practice being thankful –or at least that’s what I think it’s for even though some people think it’s about football.

Couldn’t we take one day a year and practice being peaceful?

One day to stop the rat race and just learn to exist in a peaceful way.

Most people have never learned this.

And, I never would have if my health didn’t force me to stop.

You’re seeking to have peace in yourself: an even voice and calm presence –focused on God’s goodness.

You’re seeking peace in your relationships: no getting upset, yelling, being frustrated, etc.

Now, this will need to be a day when you are staying home.

I’m assuming that you’re a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom because that’s a large part of my audience.

If not, this might be harder to implement, but not impossible –it will just require a little more creativity and forethought on your part.

Pick a day when you don’t have to go anywhere, and I am giving you permission, for just today, to only do what brings you peace and what you can do peacefully.

This day –Peace Day– you don’t have to do anything that makes you stressed out.

Believe me when I say that those stressful things will still be there tomorrow.

Do whatever you need to for you to be peaceful.

Just for today, imagine that you are sick and don’t have to do anything.

Your 2-year-old will not be permanently damaged if you distract her instead of punishing her and addressing an issue just for today.

No one is likely to die if you have peanut butter and jelling sandwiches or cereal for dinner.

A long time ago, I decided that if I couldn’t do something without yellingwithout being peacefulI wasn’t going to do it.

My testimony before my children is way more important than any task that needs to be done today.

Your testimony before your children is so much more important than any task you need to accomplish today.


Important Steps for Your Peace Day:


1. Acknowledge that God is in control of everything: the good, the bad, and even the ugly.

Nothing happens apart from His will –either ordained or permitted will.

So, you can rest in Him.

Knowing He is in control and choosing to trust Him brings peace.


2. Surrender your day to God.

What happens today happens because God allows it to happen.

He promises to give you everything you need for life and godliness.

So, if you don’t have the energy, or the focus, or the time, then you are not expected to get it done today.

God never expects us to do things we are incapable of doing.

Either He will give us the power to do it, or He doesn’t expect it to be done.

No matter what happens, the goal is to still be singing God’s praises when you put your head on your pillow tonight.

The sun comes up

It’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass

And whatever lies before me

Let me be singing

When the evening comes

-Matt Redman

I have to admit that the idea of still being willing to praise God at night after a hard day parenting did not come from me.

It came from my friend Ellie who made an offhanded comment that this was her goal.

I went home and cried because I knew that I was not ending my day willing to praise God for whatever had happened no matter what happened.

And, I was determined to change that.

She probably doesn’t even remember the conversation.

But I will never ever forget it.

Today, you want to practice quietness, peace.

Don’t let any situation take away the strength you have when you’re peaceful.

Do you know the Biblical definition of meek?

“Quiet strength.”

Also, “An attitude of humble, submissive and expectant trust in God, and a loving, patient and gentle attitude towards others.”

I like the first definition best.

You know the opposite of quiet strength?

Freaking out and yelling.

I’ve had my fair share of freaking out and yelling days.

You can read about one such incident in this post: The Great Cookie Incident of 2013.


3. Focus on the positive things in your life.

It is very hard to stay peaceful if you are thinking about all the things that you think are going wrong in your life.

As cliched as it sounds, counting your blessings really does have a positive effect on our hearts and attitudes.

Even in the hardest of circumstances, you can be grateful that God has promised to work everything out for your good eventually, that He will finish what He started, and that He is working behind the scenes in ways you cannot see and cannot understand at this minute.


4. Realize that any trial or struggle in your life that is not within your control to change is within God’s control.

Make a conscious decision to not resent this because this is what God is doing in your life to deepen your faith.

Surrender these situations to the Lord and say “Thy will be done,” just like Jesus did.

God calls us to endure hard things sometimes, but no more than His son endured for us.

If there are situations you can change, pray that the Lord would give you wisdom and patience to address them prudently.

If not, pray that you would have the ability to surrender the situation to God.

I have a whole post about this topic entitles Things in Outside and Inside My Control.


5. Focus on relationships over efficiency and productivity.

Remember how much you love your children.

Swing them around the kitchen if they are little enough.

Dance around the living room with them.

Smile at each of them.

Hug them each at least once today.

Tell them you love them and tell them why.

Choose to find joy in them today.

When your husband comes home from work, give him a kiss and tell him you are thankful for him.

You are practicing things that lend themselves to a peaceful home.


6. Only do what you can do and still remain peaceful.

Here’s where I might lose some people, so bear with me.

If an argument starts, find the most peaceful and defusing resolution.

If something stresses you out, put it off until tomorrow or find a non-stressful alternative –such as listening to praise music to calm yourself.

Everyone’s different and what stresses them is different.

For instance, before my adrenal issues, I could sing a solo in front of 400 people and hardly get nervous, but I would freak out trying to do the math for our budget.

If watching TV or reading a book is all you can do today without freaking out, that is okay.

I am giving you permission –-for today— to only do things that don’t stress you out, that don’t make you upset and lose your peace.

We will talk tomorrow about what to do about those things that do stress you out.

Your testimony is so much more important than what you think you need to get done today.


(Shhhhh…. I will tell you a secret: I think you should be doing most of these things every day, not just on Peace Day. But, more on that tomorrow.)

So, how peaceful are you, really?

Let’s find out!

I was a lot less peaceful than I thought.

I challenge you to take one day off to practice being peaceful.

If you accept this challenge, post a picture or post on my Facebook Page or use the hashtag #biblicalpeacedaychallenge on your wall, and I will be able to see your photos (if they are set to public).

I would love to hear how this challenge helped you!

This message will self-destruct —just kidding.

Christians in former times understood the value of peaceful existence –a value which we have lost sight of in our fast-paced society and a value I am actively trying to regain.

Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace… If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. – Amy Carmichael

I am praying that you will find peace amid the chaos.

Remember: Jesus was still the King of the Universe even in the storm when the disciples thought everything was out of control and that the storm had won.

He still hasn’t surrendered His throne.

So, you don’t need to surrender your peace.

Hold it tight!

Blessings,

Sarah Forbes


Here are the posts in this series. I will add the links as I publish the posts.

Peace Day Challenge, Part 1: We are Called to Peace

Peace Day Challenge, Part 2: Even If the Healing Never Comes: Choosing Contentment

Peace Day Challenge, Part 3: Scriptures Verses About Living in Peace

Peace Day Challenge, Part 4: The Actual Peace Day Challenge

Peace Day Challenge, Part 5: Yes, I Still Lose My Cool Sometimes

Peace Day Challenge, Part 6: Peace Day Challenge Reflections


If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy these:

Choosing Joy: How an Attitude of Thankfulness Changed My Life

Lessons from Jonah

When You Find You Can’t Do It All

Independentism: The Negative Effects of Self-sufficiency on Women in the Church