Brave enough to fail: Teaching your children to try

The 8-year-old melted in a heap before 10 am. She’s a few years beyond the major melting stage, but we never completely give up our right to a good meltdown. A quiet amen to that?

“I’m no good at anything!”

The honest tears came.

And a small part of me wants to laugh at the ridiculousness of it. Not that she’s frustrated. Not that she feels desperate. Or even because she is crying.

I want to laugh because she is amazing. I want to laugh because she is 8 and she is vibrant. She is bright and she is a fighter, creative and colorful and talkative. I can see it all clearly with my mama eyes. Far too many things come easy for this girl, but she just declared what she saw of herself.

I’m not good at anything.

My thoughts reflex out of habit.

You have got to be kidding, girl.

How do you not see it? Because you botched that song on the piano? Because that math pattern is fighting you? One tune and equation gone awry and you are done? Really?

But it only takes me 5 seconds to melt right along with her. Because I get it. Oh, how I get it.

Another failed dinner plan, filling kids up on processed junk. The house is a mess. I’m tired, and I get it.  Sometimes, far too many times, I have the very mind of an 8 year old. I’m no good at anything. Please, pick someone else, God. I’m done. There is certainly a better mother, a better housekeeper, a better leader, wife and friend for all of them, than me.

I wonder if a tiny part of Him wants to laugh? Does His heart break when I take a magnifying glass to all my shortcomings, wholly blind to all that comes easy, all that He has given. Does he stare, shocked? You have got to be kidding, girl.

We’re not all that different, this girl and I.

This mama job is a blessing of the greatest sort. To wrap my arms around a little person, to be entrusted with their very lives, feels enormous. And it’s scary – so stinking scary. How do I go about teaching my children to try when sometimes I feel about two inches ahead of them in figuring this all out? Centimeters, some days. Figuring out that he has given gifts, good gifts, to me. And I am trusted to grow them and shape them, to try them and use them. Figuring out that my shortcomings don’t define me, they magnify Him (2 Corinthians 12:9) – the one who restores and redeems and makes all things good.

Whoa. Do we live that, friends? I don’t want to waste that. I don’t want her to waste that. And so I tell her the words that I bleed. The words that I may as well be shouting into the mirror.

For heavens sake, dear child, be brave enough to fail. Grow your gifts, use them. Try new things to the point of failure. How in the world are we going to learn if we don’t try? Try, baby girl. Please, try.  

Free yourself to try and learn and fail. Let’s do this!

We are enough because He is enough. He hems us in and makes up the difference. He calls us out to be more than we feel we are because that is where He is, that is where He shows up. Step, sweet girl.  

It’s okay to cry.  Sometimes I cry, too. I know bitter tears, angry tears, when it feels like I’m failing at all of the things. But that means you did it, sweet girl. You spent it, risked it, felt it.  It hurts, but it’s building you. You’re growing and stretching. Bigger. Braver.

It’s okay to risk failure, girl. Your mama is risking it right beside you.

It’s hard to be this real sometimes, friends. But this is how I want to grow. My hand in hers, together. My hand in yours, together.  One inch at a time. Brave.

This post originally appeared on I Choose Brave and was republished with permission. 

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