This is episode 25, and today I’m sharing encouragement for the times you feel like a failure at the end of the day. Have you had a day like that lately? I certainly have. But I’ve also found hope for those days. Let’s look together at how Jesus treated His disciple Peter when Peter felt like a failure at the end of a long series of days in his life. Shame didn’t have the final say in Peter’s life and it doesn’t in our lives either. You are more than the mistakes you’ve made or the weaknesses you feel. His love meets you where you are and gently reminds you of your identity in Him.
- Episode 24, Letting Yourself Feel All the Feels
- Brené Brown, Daring Greatly (affiliate link)
- #AbidingCaregiver (our new hashtag!)
May 25th episode 25, When You Feel Like a Failure at the End of the Day
Friends, thank you so much for joining me today! This is Self-Care and Soul Care for the Caregiver, and I’m your host Sandra Peoples. This is episode 25, and today I’m sharing encouragement for the times you feel like a failure at the end of the day. Have you had a day like that lately? I certainly have. But I’ve also found hope for those days. Let’s look together at how Jesus treated His disciple Peter when Peter felt like a failure at the end of a long series of days in his life. We can find hope in that message as well!
As I mentioned last week in our episode on feeling all the feels, James is currently adjusting to new medicines. We’re trying to find the right med in the right dose to help him manage his OCD and his bipolar tendencies. Because the autistic brain doesn’t always respond in expected ways, figuring out med issues is challenging. What we have experienced over the last two weeks is that the side effects from the meds have been worse than the symptoms we were hoping to decrease.
This of course equals really long days at our house. I’m on high alert all day long, asking myself dozens of questions: Is he hungry? Is he eating too much? Could he have a headache? Is he feeling dizzy? Should we get out of the house for a break? Will that make it worse? And on and on, until I finally drop into bed. But even though each med we’ve tried says “may cause drowsiness,” it sure isn’t for James. So he’s up late, keeping me up late. It’s the perfect opportunity for the enemy to start attacking me, causing me to feel like a failure. That feeling of failure is called shame.
Brené Brown is a shame researcher and has written extensively on the topic. Let me share her definition: “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” It is related to guilt, but different. Guilt says “I have done something bad.” Guilt can be healthy, leading us to repentance. Shame says, “I am bad. I am a failure.” In this season of figuring out meds, I don’t just feel like I’ve made a mistake at some point in the day, I feel like I am the mistake. I am a bad mom. I am a failure.
Your feelings of failure may different from mine. You may have yelled too loud at the kids or snipped at your husband. You may have written a post on Facebook out of anger. You may have gotten nothing done on your to do list. Like me, you may walk into the bedroom at night, right past the overflowing laundry basket that you didn’t get to again and that starts the feeling of failure, of shame.
You aren’t alone. In fact, that feeling of being alone is another weapon of the enemy to keep you feeling that shame. Brené writes, “When we feel shame, we are most likely to protect ourselves by blaming something or someone, rationalizing our lapse, offering a disingenuous apology, or hiding out.” I have found that what kills shame is empathy. Again from Brene, “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
When those feelings of shame creep into my heart, I remind myself of a story in Scripture when Jesus met Peter’s shame.
It began when Jesus turned His thoughts to the cross, He and Peter had a conversation in John 13:36-38:
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.”
It doesn’t take long for us to see Jesus’s prediction come true. We read about it in Luke 22:54-62:
Then they seized [Jesus] and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Peter had acted exactly as Jesus said he would. And Peter felt that shame, he felt like a failure. Not just “I made a mistake,” but “I am a mistake.”
But the solution to Peter’s shame is the same solution to your shame and mine—Jesus is the solution. Peter experienced that after Christ’s resurrection:
When Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome went to Jesus’s tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe. “And he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you’” (Mark 16:6-7).
Did you catch the small detail in this verse? “… and Peter…” Jesus knew Peter’s shame would keep him hidden. But it didn’t have to! Later when Jesus and Peter walked together near the Sea of Tiberias, Peter’s shame was healed as Jesus gently reminded him of the truth of His love and gave him a mission. “Do you love me?” Jesus asked, giving Peter the opportunity to say he did. Three times he asked, and the final time Peter responded, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you” (John 21:17). Our Savior knows everything. Every secret we try to hide. Every mistake that becomes our identity. He knows, He sees, and He loves us anyway. There is no place for shame with Him.
The light He brings into our darkness reminds us we are who He says we are, not what shame says we are. Peter himself later wrote in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Walking with Christ pushed away the shame Peter felt and gave him a new identity. Then he was ready to move on to fulfill his purpose—build Christ’s church by caring for Christ’s people. When we turn the pages in our Bible from the end of the Gospel of John to the Book of Acts, we see Peter fulfill the first stages of that mission by preaching at Pentecost.
Here’s the message I want you to remember today: Shame didn’t have the final say in Peter’s life and it doesn’t in our lives either. You are more than the mistakes you’ve made or the weaknesses you feel. His love meets you where you are and gently reminds you of your identity in Him.
And as He heals you from shame, Jesus also reminds you of your purpose—to love and care for your family. You can walk in that purpose today as you abide in Him. Next time you feel like a failure, remember Christ’s love for you. Remember that He knows you even better than you know yourself, and His love is still true. Allow His light to shine on the shame you feel. Talk about it with your spouse or a close friend who will also speak truth over you. And then like Peter, get back on mission—loving and caring for your family.
Join me in prayer as we wrap up our time together:
God, we are to thankful that Your Word speaks to us when we feel like we’re failing and we experience shame. We know that is not from You! As we read from the Gospels about the life of Peter, Christ came to take away our shame and replace it with love and acceptance, a relationship with you that isn’t dependent on our success or failure. During this challenging season, unlike any we’ve lived through before, remind us of Your love when we’re tempted to believe the lies of shame. And help us to live out the mission You have called us to, fully dependent on You. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Thanks for listening today! I have something exciting to share before we’re done today: Have you ever heard of a “golden birthday”? Last year I went to a friend’s golden birthday, called that because her age and the date of her birth matched! She turned 29 on the 29th of the month! Well, today is a golden birthday of sorts for the podcast! It’s our 25th episode on the 25th of the month. So how should we celebrate? I have something new to share with you today on this golden birthday: we now have a hashtag! I’ve actually been praying for weeks about what message we want to send to others with this hashtag. Who are we, and what message do we want to send to others when they see us talk about the podcast online?
God brought me back to one of my favorite verses: John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” This idea of abiding in Him is foundational to who we are as caregivers. So the best hashtag we could use is #abidingcaregiver That’s who we are, isn’t it? We are abiding caregivers! We focus on self-care and soul care as we abide in Him and produce fruit. We remember that apart from Him and His strength, we can do nothing.
So if you’re wondering what gift to give on this golden birthday we’re celebrating, you can share a link to the podcast using our new hashtag! Each week I post links and quotes from the episode on my social media accounts, and you can share those on your social media accounts to let friends know that you listen and that it’s an encouragement to you! Spread the message that you are an abiding caregiver by using our hashtag and spreading the word!