Question (from Facebook community): “Does the feeling of being a failure ever go away?”

I sat in church this weekend and felt my now-normal uncomfortability.  Being a single woman, after an adulthood of being a married woman, in a church especially is awkward and painful. The reminders of my status are innumerable each Sunday morning.  The middle-aged unmarried couple two rows ahead of me all giggly and affectionate.  The promo for the interview during next week’s service of the couple who inspired The Vow. The upcoming five-week series on marriage. (Can’t wait…talk about a slow, painful death.) Just the fact that I’m sitting between my two children when almost every other grown woman in that room sits next to her husband.

But what pricked me the most was the mention from the teaching pastor during his message on prayer that “it’s always too soon to quit”.  It’s always too soon to quit, he repeated. He was referring to being perseverant in prayer but he was also talking about that if you want the kind of character of someone who isn’t a quitter, the way you do that is to not quit things. To see things through to the end. No matter what.

I did not do that. I made a commitment to God, to another human being, and in front of my friends and family to not quit, to stay no matter what. And I did not keep that commitment. I failed to stay married.

We can rationalize this till we’re blue in the face. Vows were broken. I was released to separate. I wasn’t the divorce-initiator. All true. But I didn’t stay no matter what. I still, technically, had the choice to just plain stay in an abusive, painful situation, to not be a quitter. But I didn’t. I failed.

I’m failing on another front as well. There are people out there who don’t like me, who don’t approve of me, whom I cannot look in the eye and have a conversation with. Someone just asked me how communication is going with a certain person in my life and I am embarrassed to say this, but as a 42-year-old woman I had to honestly admit that it is going horribly. That I don’t have the restraint to talk on the phone with this person without losing it, so I have chosen to only communicate via texts and emails in an effort to hold myself back. That is a failure on my part, that there is even one person on this planet that I don’t have the emotional maturity to speak to with respect and kindness.

So, to answer the question, yes and no.  I think in some respects, yes, I will always feel I fell short.  That there was more I could’ve done, that there is more I could be doing.  I will always look around my church sanctuary and feel ever-so-slightly less thanbecause I wasn’t able to hold a marriage together like almost everyone else in that room. And I will always feel a little bit nauseous that there are people I can’t connect with no matter what I try.

And yet…I must choose to believe some things.

I must choose to believe that I did the best that I could and I’m doing the best that I can.
I must choose to believe that when God looks at my heart, he sees what Christ did for me and that somehow covers over it all.
I must choose to believe that God’s will prevails, that he is so sovereign that somehow I cannot tank his plans for me.
I must choose to believe that I am forgiven, that his word is true.
I must choose to believe that though I am frail, he moves in me the deepest in those moments.
I must choose to believe that good comes out of every failure, that redemption is occurring in the slivers when I feel least worthy.
I must believe that I am being healed, that the closer I walk with Jesus and let him put me back together, the fewer failings I will make along the way.
And I must – absolutely must – choose to believe that no matter what I’ve done or not done, I am loved. That I have been loved every moment of my life, in every mistake and failure and sin, and that I will be loved until the end of time, no matter what else I may do that’s off course.

And when I truly believe these things – that God is supreme above my failures and loves me nonetheless – then I will be able to walk with my head a little bit higher, trusting that the One who created me knew all along what I would get myself into, and has walked beside me the entire time.

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

Taking a few moments to sit quietly and focus your heart and mind on Jesus is one of the best things you can do for yourself spiritually, mentally, emotionally and even physically. Enjoy this free gift of guided meditations.

you're just moments away from calm!