I Missed My Turn but I Didn’t Miss God by Becky Keife

Do you believe it’s okay to fail? If you asked me, I’d be quick to say, “Yes! Failure is a part of life. Failing means you’re human. Failure is an opportunity for learning. Failing means you tried.”

But turns out, what I know is true doesn’t always translate into how I feel.

Recently I messed up. I was talking on the phone while driving (yeah, I know) and I missed a turn. I didn’t realize my mistake until much too late. So late in fact that by the time I turned around, backtracked, and made it to my appointment, I was told that the doctor could no longer see me. The appointment I had waited months for. The appointment I had taken time away from work and arranged childcare for.

I stood in front of the receptionist, flustered and sweaty and desperate to turn back time, and I started to cry. Tears of frustration and embarrassment. And also tears of shame. But as I drove home, silently wiping tears and berating myself for my mistake, I realized that my response was less about the inconvenience I caused and more about what I believe:

I believe I shouldn’t make mistakes.
I believe I should always be focused and timely and efficient.
I believe a string of bad nights’ sleep shouldn’t affect my clarity of mind.
I believe failure is an indictment on my character.

As I type these words though, I can name for myself all their slippery slopes and half-truths. I would never believe these things for you.

But sometimes it takes missing a turn and crying in front of a stranger to realize you’ve got some work to do in the department of self-kindness.

Self-kindness doesn’t mean making excuses or justifying poor behavior. But it does mean making space for mistakes. It means acknowledging that you’re human. Perfectionism is a myth. Performance-based living is soul-crushing. So why do we live like a mistake-free existence is the ultimate achievement?

I drove to my mom’s house to pick up my kids. I thought I had collected myself, but as I sat on a little stool while my mom putzed around the kitchen, the flow of tears started again.

“I just feel so stupid,” I confessed.

My mom hugged me and affirmed that failures big and small can just feel plain devastating. Then she made me a plate of sausage and sweet potatoes.

Space to cry. To be held. Loved. Fed. Those were gifts I wouldn’t have received if I hadn’t missed that turn and seemingly messed up my whole day.

And this is the beauty of God: He loves us at all times, and He works in all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28) — not just on the days when we have our ducks in a row and everything goes as planned.

Today I want to hug the me from that day and tell her that she is no less valuable or loved because she messed up. Today-me knows that appointments can be rescheduled and God’s mercies are new every morning. I cannot miss His love. 

For more reminders that your limitations don’t disqualify you from God’s love and kindness, check out Becky’s upcoming book The Simple Difference, available now for preorder.

This article first appeared on (in)courage. You can find the original article here.

I Missed My Turn but I Didn’t Miss God (incourage.me)

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Contentious Conversations Continued

Here’s the question: “The edict to not talk about “sex, religion or politics” with family or at family gatherings is a common refrain. I think we Americans MUST find means / methods to discuss these topics with those we love. If we can’t, our national debates will not be as productive or successful in my opinion. How do you (or does Scripture) recommend having civil discourse on contentious topics?”

Last week I gave you an answer based on the writings by Scott Rae and Tim Muehloff of Biola University. This week I’ll give you my thoughts and those of my husband, Steve. I’ll go first:

Quoting writer Stephen Covey, I think we have to “Begin with the end in mind.” Why do you want to talk about a particular topic? My reader explained that “If we can’t, our national debates will not be as productive or successful.” Fair point. But if we begin a “conversation” when all we really want to do is deliver a lecture, we have begun from a point of deception. If we mean only to use some cheerful family gathering as an opportunity to defend a position or proselytize those who disagree with us, then we must tread carefully.

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Contentious Conversations

Above: What NOT to do!

Here’s another question asked by a reader who kindly took the time to give me writing suggestions. (Thanks, Joe!) How do we handle the unwritten rule to cease from talking about sex, religion, or politics with family and friends? How do we have civil discourse on contentions topics?

Since, right or wrong, I’ve nearly always avoided contentions conversations, let me begin by recommending an article by Scott Rae and Tim Muehloff, How to Disagree Without Dividing – Biola Magazine – Biola University. (Biola is the alma mater of three of my four kids.) The whole article is worth your time, but here are the highlights.

  • Our aim should be respectful disagreement, communicating in ways that preserve one another’s dignity, even when we disagree.
  • When the relational aspect of a conversation is broken, no one cares about the content. If I don’t feel respected by you, if I feel like you don’t acknowledge my position, then I don’t care about your argument.
  • Paul told us to speak the truth in love. We love our friends. We love our enemies. We ought to be able to convey those things in our conversations, even the contentious ones.
  • We live in an argument-prone culture where we tend to demonize each other. Finding common ground with those “on the other side” is seen as compromise and weakness. This is wrong. If we value relationships, why not start our conversations with common ground, then move toward areas of disagreement, keeping our convictions while still valuing our relationships?
  • For example, we might start a conversation with, “I know we disagree about this issue, but I’m not sure I understand all of the reasons why you feel that way. Could you talk to me a bit about your conviction on this issue?” Aim to understand both what another person is thinking, and the reasons behind that stance.
  • When the conversation begins to heat up too much, try saying something like, “Hey, we’re not having a good conversation right now. What could we do to make it just a little bit better?”

A letter to the editor in a recent issue of Christianity Today summarized those same points by saying, in essence, “Keep your focus on explaining your position and listening to why the other person or people believe and act as they do. The conversation will always go bad if the focus is on why I am right and why you are wrong.”

Now that I’ve shared the wisdom of some very learned men with you, I’ll give you my take on the matter next week…

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The Heirloom

Decades ago, on the eve of our wedding, Steve’s oldest brother presented us with a beautiful hand-hewn three-shelf cabinet. It held a place of honor in each of our homes—until we moved to Austin.

Somehow, having been in the same Houston home for 30 years, we adopted the mistaken notion that the cabinet, firmly affixed to the breakfast nook wall, was considered part of the home and had to be left behind. So, leave it behind we did (along with a whole lot of other household goods, but none as precious as that heirloom cabinet.)

We settled into our new house, Hurricane Harvey came and went (just barely sparing the home we’d left one month earlier), and we nearly forgot about that cabinet. A short while later, we headed back to our old haunt for a visit and, like most of you would probably do, took a drive past our former home. There, sitting on our–or rather their–front porch, was our cabinet. We called the new owners and discovered they were about to get rid of that precious piece. A friend of theirs was due to come by and take it away, but they graciously granted us permission to snag it for ourselves. It hangs in Steve’s office now, displaying a growing collection of handmade grandchild art.

Why am I telling you this sappy story? Because it reminds me that:

  • God cars about little things.
  • He knows how to cover our goofs and oversights.
  • And if he cared enough to orchestrate the unlikely return of our heirloom cabinet, I’m pretty sure he’s on top of whatever else concerns me—or you—today.

Go forth with confidence. The King of Kings is on your side!

 

Because I Leak

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When D. L. Moody was asked why he insisted that Christians needed to be filled constantly with the Holy Spirit, he answered, “Well, I need a continual infilling because I leak!”  

I leak sometimes. Are you leaking today? Has your spiritual tank already run dry? A word to the wise: we can’t fix ourselves. The sooner we realize that, the better off we’ll be. We need the Holy Spirit. He comforts and guides us. He reminds us of what Jesus has done for us and of our rights as children of the King.

Ask the Lord to refill you, to infuse you with new trust and peace and joy from the presence of his Holy Spirit. Ask him to take over! Begin each day, right away, before you ever leave your pillow, by acknowledging your weakness and surrendering to his control. Keep his presence in mind.

Meet each new challenge with prayer—right away, even in the midst of your busy day. You don’t need to be on your knees or in a place of silence to be in conversation with our Lord. We can’t see the Holy Spirit, and that can cause our trust to waver. But be encouraged by these words. They have encouraged me.

 “Trusting God is a decision, not a feeling that we want to have” (Joyce Meyer).

“We live by faith, not by sight” (Apostle Paul).

“There are two ruling principles of action—sight and faith…The life of every one of us is governed by one or the other of these principles…The Christian’s great days are the days when faith dominates, and our sad and bad days are the days when sight rules” (W. Graham Scroggie).

‘Hope this is a filled up, topped off, walking-by-faith day for you!

John, Ed, and Pat

When I attend the funeral of a man or woman who loved the Lord and sought to follow Him, I come away with a heart full of encouragement and a notepad filled with challenging quotes. Here’s the latest batch from, yes, the latest batch of funerals. I remember when most of the big events Steve and I attended were weddings. While we still get to enjoy a few of those now and then, more often we’re reminded that life doesn’t last forever—not here at least—and that eternity awaits.

I hope these lines will sink in, tweaking the way you see life, and even the way you live it.

John:

  • He was cool under fire in his faith. He trusted God in spite of his circumstances.
  • He was sacrificial—this is true faith, not putting his own life ahead of his faith.
  • We offer time and talent to advance God’s purposes and glory. That was John.

Pat:

  • She taught me about forgiveness.
  • I loved her, and there was never a doubt that she loved me.
  • It didn’t take much to make her happy.
  • She truly trusted in the faithfulness of God.
  • Her commitment was to Dad and to us, and she never wavered from that commitment.

Ed:

  • He was such an excellent parent because he loved my mom. They were on the same team and made decisions together, solved their problems together. They were a united front.
  • He copied down, and leaned on, this quote from Swindoll: “Nothing can touch you that hasn’t first passed through the hands of God.”
  • He was content.
  • His main hobby was his family. He put his family first and left his fingerprints on their lives.
  • He always lived in his purpose.

And from a eulogy my brother-in-law penned for his grandmother, Lenore:

  • She got the most out of this life by giving everything she could.

I have nothing to add to the wisdom of those loved ones.  May you think on these things today!

Happy Veteran’s Day. My deepest thanks to all who have served.

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