When the Juggler Drops the Ball

When the Juggler Drops the Ball // young-wives.comAs a child of 10 or 11, I wanted to learn to juggle. I even bought a book about juggling (with my own money!), and practiced the drills described in the book. I was certain that if I followed the written instructions with fidelity, I would soon be able to juggle. After weeks of devoted effort and multiple readings of the how-to book, I still could not keep all three balls in the air. I had an academic knowledge of how juggling was supposed to work, but I simply could not put all the pieces together. In many ways, I feel that I am still that child: reading all the right things, implementing wise counsel, practicing with fidelity, but still dropping the ball. I especially feel this way as I combine roles as a wife, mom, teacher, church member, and homemaker.

Sometimes, my house is clean and I have meal prepped like a pro, only to realize that it has been several days since I spent any real time with my husband. Other times, I have stellar, deep quiet times, only to realize that I forgot to pack our lunches, and now my toddler is awake and demanding breakfast, but I still need to dress and do my hair and makeup before work. No matter how “together” I feel, I inevitably find that I am missing something. I recently had two harsh reminders of just how completely I fail when I try to do it all on my own.

One Friday, I felt on top of the world. My house was relatively clean, I felt good about the learning that happened in my classroom all week, we ate a good home-cooked meal, I had posted on my blog twice that week, and we were all home having a relaxed evening together. My husband and I were talking about how nice it was to have a weekend at home with very little on the calendar. In the midst of that conversation, I realized that I was not supposed to be at home after all. I had committed to attend a banquet for the local pregnancy center as a representative of our church. Immediately, the simple pleasure of bathing our little boy together was tainted by the frustration of a missed commitment. I kept thinking, “This is so unlike me.” I fail at so many things, but I am good at managing a calendar. I faithfully write down events in my planner, so I rarely make this sort of mistake. I could not believe that it had happened, and I was drowning in a flood of self-doubt. After all, a detailed planner was kind of my thing. If  I could fail at that, could I succeed at anything?

Less than a week later, I was back on top of the world- a dangerous place to be. My husband and I had sanded the wood floors in our bedroom all weekend, and Monday morning, I woke early to stain them. I followed this by dressing for work, packing lunches and heading to school. I taught good, engaging lessons until my conference period, when I headed home to quickly put a coat of sealant on the floors. I made it back to school to eat lunch with some fellow teachers, then taught my remaining classes. As I walked out of the building toward my car, I thought, “I have been so productive. I feel like Superwoman today.” A moment later, I realized that my keys were missing. I retraced steps and searched to no avail. I had no option but to turn to others for help. A kind neighbor helped me get my spares, and a kind coworker found my keys and turned them in, but that did not spare me the embarrassment of admitting that I had, yet again, dropped the ball.

But God…. Often in scripture something hard or broken is described, immediately followed by the words “but God.” That phrase usually precedes forgiveness, hope, and redemption. When I drop the ball and completely make a mess of things, I strive to remember that I am weak, but God is strong. His power is made perfect in my weakness. My failures highlight his holiness.

One of the hardest things about the two failures that I described is that they were public defeats. The other people attending the banquet knew that I was supposed to be with them, and there was an empty seat at the table to remind them of my mistake. I needed help when I misplaced my keys, so I had to call a neighbor and admit what I had done. Then I had to email the office staff at school to see if they had been found. Admitting failure is hard. I want to look like I have it all together, but I know that is just a result of my habit of trying to perform a juggling act.

Besides, God already knows how I will fail, so my shortcomings are no secret. He knew before I was born that on a prideful day in February, I would lose my keys. He knew that there would be days that I would be insufficient as wife, mother, and teacher. He still loves and forgives, and his grace is sufficient when I am not. When I ask him to, he even holds the ball that I know I am about to drop. I guess I just need to ask more often.

When the Juggler Drops the Ball // young-wives.com
Rachel Cheyne
Rachel Cheyne

Rachel Cheyne is a part-time high school math teacher, mama to a brown eyed toddling boy, and wife to a handsome engineer. Before Rachel and her husband got married, she shared the dream with him that someday their family life and their church life would be essentially one and the same. After a couple of moves early in marriage, their church home is everything they longed for. When not teaching or immersing herself in her church family, Rachel enjoys knitting, cooking, gardening, reading, blogging, and playing fixer-upper in their 1937 home.

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