Undeserved Gifts, Lessons Learned Again

“I feel like a failure.” I sobbed.
“You’re not a failure.” Brian said.

Easy for him to say, I thought.

I’ve been working on a new blog design for weeks. I wanted a lighter, fresher look for spring, and after hours of hard work, watching the same Photoshop tutorials ten times, and much frustration, the design was almost done. But I just realized that my design didn’t display correctly in Firefox browsers. The blog’s footer, the thingy I tried to make on this blog with the three sections on the bottom of the blog, it wasn’t staying at the bottom of the blog. It actually covered the entire area for posts and the sidebar- just about everything except the header. Here’s the design, try looking at it in Firefox to see what I mean. You’ll see a dark gray box over everything, but if you use Internet Explorer or Google Chrome, which is what I use, it displays correctly.

Brian tried to offer an explanation which just made me more frustrated. I slammed my laptop shut and went to turn off the lamp and go to bed.

Click,click,click. It’s a three way bulb, and in my anger I turned it too fast and clicked right past turning it off.


Brian started laughing. I started crying. I finally turned it off and pulled the comforter over my head.

“Babe, what’s wrong?” He was still chuckling.

“I’ve worked SO HARD on that design and now it won’t work!” I wailed.

“Well, just tell all your readers to use Google Chrome or IE.”

“But if I ever have new readers come to my blog, they won’t know to use chrome or IE,” I spat. “If they see a big gray box over everything they’ll never stay and read it! No one will want to read a blog with an ugly gray box on it! It’s ugly!” I don’t remember all I said, but I know I was more than a little hysterical.

I probably scared Brian, because he didn’t say anything for a long time. I continued sobbing into my pillow.

Finally, he asked, “What’s wrong babe?”

This wasn’t just about the blog design. I told him what I was really crying about, “I feel like a failure.”

“You’re not a failure.”

“But I’m not good at anything anymore!”

He just shook his head. It probably was an overstatement. I do that a lot. But the feeling that I’ve failed is something I can’t shake. It goes deeper than a failed blog design. It’s rooted in feelings of being overwhelmed and inadequate.

White Roses in the Rain
photo © 2009 John Morgan | more info (via: Wylio)

I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have to write papers and do other class work all afternoon Saturday and Sunday. Even when we went to Disneyland over President’s Day weekend, I had to write two papers before Sunday night. I’m getting them turned in on time, but I know I’m not doing them well most of the time. I hate turning in poor work. It doesn’t really matter to me if I get a good grade on it, I know it wasn’t my best and it’s not good enough for me. I feel like a failure as a student.

Because I’ve been so busy with school, I haven’t kept up with housework. The dirty floors and grey layer of dust are constantly nagging at me, keeping me from really relaxing. And it makes me feel like a failure as a homemaker.

When I said I wasn’t good at anything anymore, I was thinking about high school. Back in those “good old days,” I was at the height of my singing and artistic ability. Then ministry and school took over in college. To be honest with you, sometimes I miss high school for that reason. I wish I still had the time and means to devote to practicing and developing those talents. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a disappointment.

And I feel inadequate. I have a list of projects I want to do. There’s 17. Many of them are projects other people have asked me to do, like designing business cards, the youth group blog, and an instruction manual for the church secretaries, to name some of the bigger ones. I’ve agreed to do them, but I doubt my abilities. Can I really do it “good enough”? I have so little experience, am I really the right person for the job? And there’s the question of time; when will I have time to get it all done?

One of my new year’s resolutions was to make time for creating. It hasn’t really happened. And I feel the dryness inside that comes from the lack of expression. Not just arts and craft projects I’d like to create, but things I want to write. I’ve had ideas percolating, but no time to put them to paper, and when I try, I’m rusty and clumsy, and they disintegrate. I pick up a pencil and try to sketch an image or a thought, and I feel like I’ve lost my touch, lost my skill.

I didn’t say all of that to Brian. I was ashamed that I felt this way, when I know others are going through cancer, loss of loved ones, sick children, fear of losing a job, and much, much weightier things than my feelings of being overwhelmed and lacking in ability. I’m only telling you, because I don’t want to ever appear to be someone I’m not. I am selfish and foolish and petty.

I sat down to read my Bible the next morning, knowing I’d acted foolishly with my outburst the night before. I’d thrown myself a pity-party, when I didn’t deserve one.

I didn’t deserve what happened next either: a gift. Reading in Exodus 31, God speaking to Moses about building the tabernacle says:

 “I have called Bezalel…I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs…I myself have appointed him…in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded them.” 

He put skill in his heart, so that by creating what God commanded him, he would bring glory to God.

Building the tabernacle

How could I forget? My life is not about me. It doesn’t matter whether or not I feel like I have skill. God puts skill in the hearts of those whom he appoints. It doesn’t even matter whether or not I feel overwhelmed. God chooses the weak vessels to show His strength. Because it’s all about Him, about His name being glorified.

So I count gifts, to remember that everything is a gift, and it’s not about me, but about the Gift-giver.

101. Learning the same lessons over again.
102. It’s not about me.
103. God gives skill.
104. Time enough to do the important every day.
105. Brian laughing at my jokes.
106. Rest.
107. Brian’s new haircut.
108. The new recipe I tried turned out well.
109. Yogurt.
110. A new song on the radio.
111. The smell of my shampoo.
112. A cloudy day.
113. Learning patience.
114. Learning through loneliness, even without knowing what the lesson is yet.
115. Too many good ideas.
116. Pistachio ice cream.
117. Cuddling.
118. Toilets, even if they do need cleaning.
119. A new semester about to start.
120. Today.

  • I've set up so many expectations for myself that I'll never meet them all! I love the reminder in the verse you shared. Thanks and blessings, Emily!

  • I love this! He always gives us a good word in due season, doesn't He? Just keep leaning on Him, and you won't go wrong! 🙂

  • I've been there before. I struggle with feeling like a failure from time to time. Especially because I chose to work part time as a nanny instead of pursuing a career like my family expected. I take a lot of flack for that choice and I frequently question myself and sometimes feel less than. I know what you mean about going through days like this. And you gotta love God's faithfulness and the reminders that life isn't about us.

  • Okay, I was doing the exact same thing Saturday night- trying to split my footer into three sections! It was a nightmare!! Since I'm using an old blogger template, and have done so many 'tweaks', it was ridiculous…

    Your hubby is sweet- mine just laughed at me. Not a rude laugh, but laughed at how silly I was about getting upset over a simple little thing.

    But here's the crazy part: it didn't turn out how I wanted, but through my mistakes, I like how it turned out better. Huh- I liked my accident better. I think that's how life is. God gives us a trial, and we try to fix it to how WE think we should end up, but in the end, find a better way. Our lives turn out better with the trials we are given.

    Crazy how a little HTML coding will bring life into perspective, huh? 😉

  • Aww.. I think we all get to that point a lot of times in our lives and God knows how to deal with it all the time! =) His Word is all we need to remind us that God is all that matters =)


  • Thank you all, you are so supportive and wonderful 🙂

    Good news! I found out that there was just something messed up with that blog, because I was able to recreate the design on a different test blog just fine!

  • Emily, thank you for your openness with not only the Lord, but with us as well. I can tell that you have such a beautiful heart after His own, and this blesses us. B/c we know that life isn't perfect, YOUR life isn't perfect. And that's not what He promises us! But it's so great to know that our Dear Daddy is willing to heal our wounds and use us as 'incompetent' human beings that we are! His grace is truly enough~and we have a marathon to fulfill, and He provides us the strength to do it. So exciting to see what He has in store for you! remember that you're His princess and THAT is your identity! <3

  • I'm sitting here going, "Hooray for you!!!!" and cheering you on! You know, here I am, pushing 63 years old, and I think I'm just learning now that it's not all about ME! And believe me, it is the most freeing thing we can ever learn. To know it is all about HIM, what HE puts in our hearts, the gifts HE gives us — it's all about HIM! He will rearrange that list of 17 things — some will be crossed through and dropped, some will go to the top, some to the bottom. And your heart will sing again! Because it's all about HIM!

  • Good for you–going to the Word and working through it! These are tough questions that we all face over and over as our life changes and our roles in our family and marriage change.

    And brave of you to share!