As a firstborn yearning to please, I was overly troubled for decades by my many failures.
Feeling thoroughly disappointed with myself for a multitude of shortcomings occupied too many hours of my life. I emotionally berated myself again and again, redoubling self-effort to “never fail again.”
My faith in God’s sufficiency for my needs was tangled and trapped in common “you-can-do-it” thinking I’d learned in school, in relationships, and in jobs. How I wish I’d known this prayer years ago and the aligning truth “that perfection is my Savior’s endowment” alone.
My friend Susanna, who lived as woman, mother, wife and friend over 300 years ago, landed on a more appropriate theological balance: rely on Christ alone while using all my mind, soul, body, and strength to follow Jesus. She felt what I have felt, which is a great comfort. It seems some of us are especially prone to harshness when we look within.
Wisely, Susanna resolved not to think on her failures too much, but only as necessary to learn what God would have her understand about herself and about Him. It seems she understood at an earlier age than I not to dwell upon failure. I wish she and I could have shared a cup of tea.
The good news is that our Friend, the Holy Spirit, can fortify us women to accept our failures as unsurprising—given, in truth, that we are all broken and fallen. From that humble starting point, any victory is a wonder made possible by the merits of Christ in me, not my own efforts.
It is a mystery how God works in us. We cannot fathom His process, so as Susanna prayed, may we cease trying to be perfect by our own effort, meekly accept our failures as foreseeable, and then study His Word earnestly and deeply so that our efforts are turned from our performance to Spirit-fueled obedience.