When You Feel Like a Failure

I was already feeling done with the day, and I’d barely made it out of bed. I just don’t have it in me today, I sighed. I’ve given all I can this week. I’m wiped. I’m done. I just can’t push through.

Ever been there? That moment when you hit the brick wall knowing the day’s only just begun, yet there’s still more expected of you? Or maybe when you finally crack after days (months?) of trying to hold it all together and keep your emotions in check?

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, let me just say this: We can’t handle life. We just can’t. It’s too much for us. There’s not a one of us who can do it all or be everything to everyone.

God intentionally created us in such a way as to always, 100 percent of the time, be utterly dependent upon Him.

Does that mean feeling like a monumental failure is normal and acceptable? Is there no hope of ever surmounting a challenge or overcoming that feeling of hopelessness?

What if I told you there is no chance of you ever accomplishing enough, trying hard enough, or being smart enough to feel totally and completely good about yourself? That you can never successfully do enough to satisfy yourself or others? You probably would either ignore me out of determined defiance or crumple down in despair into a puddle of tears. Well, before you clench your fists or fall apart, hear me out.

God intentionally created us in such a way as to always, 100 percent of the time, be utterly dependent upon Him.

Think about it:

  • Who created your body?
  • Who told your lungs to breathe deeply or your heart to pump continuously?
  • Who created your personality?
  • Why do you think and process the way you do or enjoy the things you do?
  • Who created your environment and placed you in it?
  • Who selected your family members, your geographical location, your life experiences?

We all know the Sunday school answer, and in this case it’s the right answer—God!

Created to Be Dependent

When God created the universe, He didn’t set the earth in motion and then sit back to watch how everything would pan out. He didn’t leave man to discover life on his own when He formed him out of the dust of the ground. God spent time with His most precious creation (Gen. 3:8) nurturing the relationship, because you know what? God never intended man to live a life indifferent to and disconnected from his Creator. He made us to be dependent on Him.

It’s not that God has issues with micromanaging everything. He’s not manipulative or controlling; He’s sovereign and loving. God desires us to know Him intimately as He knows us. The very fact that He doesn’t leave us alone to figure out life is a testament to His love and care for us.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand (Isa. 41:10).

Over and over again He promises to never leave us or forsake us.

That’s why when we’re tired, overwhelmed, ashamed . . . we can trust Him. Our strength may give out, but His never will. Our love may wane, but His never will. Our desire may falter, but His never will. Ever.

I’ve heard it said this way: “Anything that causes us to depend on Christ is a good thing.” Could you see your failures and shortcomings as a blessing if they drew you closer to Jesus?

Created for Community

We can know God is always with us and will fight for us because we can’t on our own. But we also know He’s not going to write that book report for us or show up at our door with a big bear hug and bar of chocolate or drive us to that doctor appointment. That’s why He intentionally placed us in a body of believers who are to show His love in practical and tangible ways.

Maybe for you that’s your parents or grandparents or siblings. Or perhaps your circle is wider and includes teachers, classmates, youth leaders, friends, or neighbors. The point is, we’re not made to walk through life alone. Because we all have real needs and real burdens, God created us to depend on each other.

In God’s Word, we are given instructions on how to interact with each other. In fact, the phrase “one another” is mentioned several dozen times in the New Testament alone. As the Body of Christ, we are called to:

Clearly God wants us to care about the horizontal relationships as well as the vertical. And if you’re not the one currently in need, consider the above commands and be alert to the needs around you. It just may be that those you comfort or encourage today will be the ones to come to your aid when it’s your turn for help.

It’s possible to take this principle too far and become dependent on people instead of on God. News flash: You cannot depend on your mom, sister, youth pastor, boyfriend, or best friend to always be there for you. They will fail you. But that doesn’t negate the importance of having brothers and sisters in Christ alongside us on this journey. It’s not either/or; it’s both/and. Yes, we must first and foremost rely on God for all things, but He knows we also need other Christians to encourage us to press on.

Christ’s perfect life frees you to live at peace with God despite your failures.

All Because of Jesus

Both of these things—God’s tender care and deep connection with brothers and sisters in Christ—are made possible because of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. What would the Body of Christ be if you took away Christ? And how would we have access to the Father without the Son?

Remember how I said there is no chance of you ever accomplishing enough, trying hard enough, or being smart enough to feel totally and completely good about yourself? While that is true, the good news is that in Christ it is possible to find joy and satisfaction—not in yourself but in Him. Christ’s perfect life frees you to live at peace with God despite your failures.

So when you physically don’t have the energy to press forward, press in closer to God.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).

When you are emotionally drained and have nothing left to give, give your burdens to God.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. . . . And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:6–7, 10).

When you again fall prey to that same sin struggle, fall into the loving arms of Jesus.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14–16).

Have feeling of failure been ruling your days? How can you turn to Christ in dependence in your situation?

About Author

Leanna Shepard

Leanna began serving on staff with Revive Our Hearts in the summer of 2014. Though originally from Arkansas and now residing in Michigan, her citizenship is in heaven, having been adopted as daughter of the King at age ten. She loves a cup of hot tea with a good book, experimenting in the kitchen with a new recipe, and cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals.

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

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  • Haylie

    Wow. This is so good. I know it’s kinda cliche to say, but I really needed this today. Thank you for writing, Leanna!

    • Catherine Feuer

      I needed this to I’m thankful for this writer I had a conversation almost exactly like this before I got the email with this blog post what God does to tell you He is here is astounding

      • Leanna Shepard

        Thank you both, Catherine and Haylie, for your kind words. God is so good to give you the encouragement you need just when you need it!

        • Catherine Feuer

          God is amazing he has helped me through alot in my life and I know he will be there throughout my life

  • Catherine Feuer

    I read the blog post and I had just had a conversation with my Bible study leader almost exactly like this and I needed it it made me feel like there is a place in this world for me.

  • Anna

    Thanks so much! I definitely needed this today.

  • Lauren

    This article was such a blessing! I haven’t been on this blog in a few years, and I used to be a regular. This blog helped me get through my teen years, and even started me on my 20’s.

    I have felt like such a failure this last year. I have had 2 jobs, but chose to quit both (one wouldn’t give me day hours, and the other refused to promote me because I wasn’t a favorite.), I have served in multiple church functions, helped with many friends weddings, and supported everyone around me as they dealt with life. But, I consistently end up alone, without support, no job/minimal pay job, no one to talk to, and always end up being abused by my younger brother (he’s always been verbally and emotionally abusive to everyone around him, but especially me).

    I feel like no matter how hard I try, I can never do anything right, I will never get praised, or noticed, or be wanted. I will always be the supporter, but never the supported. I have given up my life multiple times for my family, and every time I do I get kicked in the teeth with guilt. I left my job to be able to help my mom at home when my dad took a year long contracting job overseas. In doing so, she employed me as a second parent in the home. But, I also got the chance to visit my dad. While waiting for my visa and passport, which ended up taking 3 months longer than expected, I didn’t get a job, which meant I was living off what I had left over from my previous job (and that has barely lasted 6 months). Now, I’m getting ready to head back to the states, but am stopping to go to my best friends wedding in another state (the bride and I grew up together, and she’s marrying her high school sweetheart.). But, while being out of the country I haven’t been able to make any sort of income, so I’m stuck using my little bit of savings.
    Sorry about the financial stuff, but it makes things worse. I want so bad to be able to move out, but have no where to go, no money to use, and no way to get a job with high enough pay (I have chosen not to go to college).
    To make things worse, I’m dating the bride’s fiance’s best friend (we have a third friend, and its her brother. We all grew up together. He was the annoying kid I said no to for 8 years. Now we’re dating long distance), and I don’t know if I like him. I’m seeing him for the first time in 1.5 years (we’ve only been dating for 2 months) in less than a week at the wedding, and I don’t know how to feel. He’s turned into a great friend, and is a great guy. There’s no reason why I wouldn’t date him, except the fact that I don’t know if I have any sort of attraction to him at all. I did for a while, but my fear is that because he is such a sweet friend I mistook my comfortableness with him for feelings? Does that make sense? He’s always liked me, since we met 8 years ago. And I think he actually falling in love with me. I feel terrible for saying yes to dating, when I don’t even know how I feel. I don’t see us going anywhere, and he’s falling in love.

    With all of this, I feel like I’m failing. I’m failing as a Christian Woman, who wants to follow Christ, but gets hurt every time I think I’m doing what I should. I feel like I’m failing as a potential wife, unintentionally leading on a wonderful young man, when I don’t know if this is what I want, and don’t know how to get out of it. I feel like I’m failing because I can’t get a job, and every time I try to find a way to move out my parents tell me it’s a bad idea (I’m thinking of being a live-in nanny, in another state. I have done childcare my whole life). I feel stuck, stagnant. I don’t know how to move forward.

    I’m sorry for the long post. But, I know that everyone on here cares for one another. I’ve seen it. I’ve been a part of it. I think this is my way of putting aside my pride, and asking for help, to people I don’t know, but know that care for me.

    Thank you for this wonderful site!

    • Leanna Shepard

      Thanks for sharing your heart, Lauren. I have delayed my response because I’ve been thinking and praying about your situation. Though my heart aches for you, I’m glad at least that you felt comfortable sharing your struggles and burdens. We want this to be a safe place, a life-giving community. That’s why LYWB offers biblical content and encourages honest conversation.

      That said, I don’t have the answers for you, and neither does another blogger or reader on here. We aren’t trained counselors, and there’s only so much one can do for someone on the other side of a computer screen beyond praying (which I have!). I would encourage you to share your burdens with someone you know in person; someone such as a trusted friend, pastor’s wife, mentor, or godly older woman.

      Consider, too, that though you’ve shared several areas of struggle, it may be helpful to consider the possibility of a common thread that underlies each of these areas. What you believe about God, yourself, and others is key to how you will respond to life’s difficulties, be it familial, relational, or financial. You might ask yourself questions like, “When I feel like a failure . . . how do I believe God sees me? How would He view me differently if I were successful? What do I believe the lack of approval/praise says about me? about God? about others?”

      Realizing the beliefs that are behind our thoughts and actions helps us begin to examine those beliefs in light of what Scripture says is true.

      Praying for you, Lauren, to find peace in the storm, and freedom from whatever is wrongly weighing you down. You are loved!

  • Olivia Chambers

    Thank you for this post. ❤️