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)