I always have a weird reaction to Mother’s Day. Instead of basking in the glow of motherhood and my children’s adoration, I wake up fidgety and get positively cranky by nightfall. I remember all the ways I’ve failed already as a mother and I fear all the ways I’ll mess it up in the coming years.

I don’t know how my children have made it this far, honestly.

Motherhood isn’t the only place I’ve failed, of course. We can also add these things to the list:

  • any skill involving math
  • basic carpentry
  • driving around garbage trucks on rural roads
  • running any distance without a zombie close behind
  • speaking in public
  • working at that pumpkin place
  • eating well (today I ate my body weight in Cheetos)
  • competitive sports
  • cigar smoking
  • patience
  • grace
  • peace
  • evangelism

And so on, and so forth. Now aging into my late 30s, I’ve accumulated quite a list of Things I Should Not Make a Habit of Doing for Any Reason. 

But is this really a bad thing? For example, I know enough to not become a carpenter, no matter how many hours of This Old House I log (my slogan could be Clemences Crooked Cottages). I am a more careful driver, thanks to nineteen years of a throbbing ankle due to the Great Garbage Truck Smashing of 1996.

All the things we stink at can really help us as we try to discern God’s next step for our lives. Of course he works through our weakness, we all know that. But there’s also a reason we’re designed the way we are, as individuals. So go ahead, make that list of Things I Ought Not Do for God.

If you’re overwhelmed about what your future holds and what God’s plans may be for you, you can at least start with this list. But don’t get too dependent on your own perception, because God really does throw a surprise in there every once in a while.

Because as much as I feel like a failure as a mother, I have two kids out there in the living room who really are thriving and will one day grow to be productive members of society, even if it’s the last thing I do. Do I feel called to start an orphanage because of my superb mothering skills? No. But I can do a decent job with the two kids I have.

What about you? What do you stink at, and will therefore strike off your list of possible ministry opportunities?

1 Thessalonians 2:1 & 4

You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure… For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:1 & 4 NLT)

9 Comments on We’re Going to Call This a Learning Opportunity, Rather Than a Failure

  1. David
    May 11, 2015 at 5:49 pm (2 years ago)

    If your stats show a hit from Sweden it was me Jessie!

    I was reading IIPMEGCTMWTD on the flight over this evening. And I was sitting next to an American. But he was asleep most of the time. In fact one of the challenges in IIPMEGCTMWTD was to list what one is good at and what one stinks at. I think I stink at making conversation with sleeping Americans on aircraft.

    I need to send you a link to a preach on how we can all be evangelists (if you have a spare 40 minutes and can put up with the very British voice). My sister sent it to me and I played it while driving to Heathrow Airport. I might listen to it again and then try and put evangelism back on the list.

  2. memyselfandkids.com
    May 11, 2015 at 6:00 pm (2 years ago)

    Let’s just put it this way: The Bernstein and Clemence carpenter company might write some of the finest work but it would go out of business the second we had a job!
    You know how to make a funny list!

  3. Jessie Clemence
    May 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm (2 years ago)

    I’d love the link, please send it! I’ll listen at my desk at work.

    Now I know who the Swedish hit is from– my next challenge is to find the European Union. How is that even a place??

  4. Jessie Clemence
    May 11, 2015 at 6:41 pm (2 years ago)

    Thank you so much. I do love stupid lists!

  5. Susie Finkbeiner
    May 11, 2015 at 7:32 pm (2 years ago)

    I’m not good at hosting people at my house. That’s my safe place. I get all anxious and itchy. I used to feel guilty about that, but am learning that it’s okay.

    I’m no good at administrative type work.

    I hate winter sports.

    I am not gifted with math skills.

    I can’t fix things.

  6. Jessie Clemence
    May 11, 2015 at 8:49 pm (2 years ago)

    And we love you anyway!

  7. David
    May 12, 2015 at 1:24 am (2 years ago)

    Sent! But let me know if you don’t receive the email. I have mixed results sending emails using hotel WiFi.

    The EU isn’t a place! Although it does have a flag and a lot of very overpaid bureaucrats and Members of Parliament.

  8. Jessie Clemence
    May 12, 2015 at 9:38 am (2 years ago)

    So I’m not completely crazy– I didn’t think they were a place! Maybe someone is in the Parliament Building using their wi-fi. 🙂

    The message came through just fine! Thanks.