Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When the Glass is Half Empty

I just took a quiz. It was one of those "How many books have you read out of these famous 100" type quizzes. I always love to see which books turn up at the top, which books I should add to my reading list. So I dove in. Turns out I've read 32 of the 100.

And I felt like I had somehow failed something.

Thirty-two percent? That's an F. An F, people. I found myself wanting to explain to someone -- anyone -- the truth about myself. "But I did read excerpts from some of the others! Do I get points for that? What if it was an abridged version from a high school text? Does that count? And who decided not to include all of the other books I have read?"

I pulled away, startled at my reaction. What was I so upset about? It wasn't a contest. Nothing was at stake. It was a silly list. But all I could focus on was the failure.

Too often, my instinct is to look at what I haven't done. The books I haven't read, the rooms I haven't cleaned, the children I haven't behaved nicely to, the papers I haven't graded, the dishes I haven't washed . . . . The list goes on. It's an attitude that, if left unchecked, can weigh heavily on my heart.

And this is right where the enemy wants me. Focusing on myself and my failure. He is prowling about like a lion looking for someone to devour. And if it's as easy as keeping me focused on myself? What a cinch!

What, then, is the solution? What is a failing mama to do? 2 Peter 5:9 tells me: "Resist him, standing firm in the faith . . . ." Resist the lies, resist the focus on self. And stand firm. Stand not on my accomplishments, not on my goals and dreams and attempts at perfection (which are anything but trustworthy and firm). But stand. . . in the faith. Stand in the truth of who God is and who I am because of that.

And who am I? I am the Lord's delight. I am not a failure. Although I do deserve an "F" because of my sinful nature, He's erased it completely and given me His Son's perfect score.

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

That's who I am. When I shift my focus, the glass is no longer half empty. I see the blessings in spite of the failure. I see the work I have been able to accomplish because of His goodness in my life. I see the children who forgive me when I wrong them. I see the household tasks that remind me of the privilege I have in making a home. I even look at my book quiz differently. I see the opportunities that I've had throughout my life to interact with some amazing literature. I thank God for the ability to read. And I eagerly add sixty-eight more books to my list.
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  1. Well said! Thank you for sharing this--I definitely needed it!

  2. Hear, hear!

    Have you read "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. What you feel and say remind me very much of Wormwood and his advice. Maybe 69?

    I'd love to have seen your list. I wonder if ours would match? ;o)

  3. I haven't read it, Marla. Number 69, indeed! I bet our lists would be eerily similar :).



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