A hundred notes on the same string

Ever feel like God is using everything in the universe to teach you the very same thing over and over?  It’s been that way with me for the past year or two or three, maybe longer.  It took awhile for the message to actually lodge in my brain, though.

So many times in life my focus has been on results.  Have I been successful in what I’ve been trying to accomplish?  If not, what can I change to make things work better next time?  I’m a problem-solver by default.  Failure to me has always been a fuzzy concept, merely a temporary circumstance.  A speed bump.  A chance for a redo.   I operate under the conviction that if at first I don’t succeed, a different approach is the way to success next time.

Tiny example:  our family just got back from 5 days of church camp where it was my job to grocery-shop and get the food to camp. For 110 campers. The first few years that I shopped for food I over-bought by a good bit– came home after camp with way too much food. With a few years of experience under my belt, this year I really wanted to get closer with my quantity estimates.

I ended up spending a cool $100 less than last year (about $1550 for 1090 meals)  and wouldn’t you know it– we ran out of a few things.  Nothing major– there was still enough food.   But every day, at every meal, I watched like a hawk and schemed how I’d do it better next year.  Near the end of camp after listening to a bit of my out-loud scheming, a friend raised an eyebrow with a smile and gently said, “Even you can’t get it all perfect, Mary.”

My friend’s words were spoken with love and gentle respect, not mockery.  And truth be told, I wasn’t really whipping myself– I was just problem-solving. But there it was anyway. The message God’s been telling me in a hundred ways for years.

My contentment cannot depend upon my idea of success in life.

Sure, sometimes I succeed 100%, and I’m happy.  But life doesn’t come with guarantees.  There’s mothering:  no guarantees there. Kids are born with free will, and they continue to exert their will their whole lives, with varying levels of apparent ‘success’ at any given moment.  Marriage, however wonderful, has a share of challenges, of moments that look nothing like success. Friendships sometimes encourage, sometimes deeply challenge.

If my heart withers with unhappiness every time circumstances don’t work out well, every time people don’t act how I think they should act, wow– I’m going to spend a lot of my life discontent.  Floundering, even.  No matter how carefully I try to mother, no matter how hard I try to do right, to balance and juggle, there are always times when my life feels like a big fat flop.

If I base my peace of mind on circumstances or people or my surroundings or my own performance, I’ll be one big walking thundercloud.  I’ve been there, done that.  It ain’t pretty.

Instead each and every day I’ve got to turn my eyes upon Jesus,  the Savior who redeems my life from the pit, the Savior who renews my strength each day, the Savior who will take me home to heaven someday.

My hope is in the Lord.

Not in circumstances.

My hope is in the Lord.

Not in people.

My hope is in the Lord.

Not in a clean house or a fit body or good friends or a loving husband or any other earthly gift.

Yes, I will rejoice at the earthly gifts I’m given.  Peaceful afternoons and loving spouses and riotous poppies and shiny sinks and good health and great friends, and children whose precious faces make my heart squeeze with joy– they’re all gifts from my Maker.

But they’re not the source of my Hope.

My Hope is in my Lord, who died to save my soul and who will bring me home with Him to Heaven some day.

My Hope is in the Lord.

And He will never disappoint.


  1. Amen and Amen!

  2. I liked this. It is GOOD when we find how much we can rest in God.

  3. So well said. Thanks for that!

  4. What a great post! I’ve been pondering this lately as well. I find God repeatedly whispering to me about my ministry and how the core really isn’t about other people at all. Every day my work is an opportunity to delve deeper into relationship with God, yet so often I’m focusing on results, impact, and improvement, etc. I’m realizing I’m wasting many opportunities to meet Jesus in the imperfect places. It’s really not at all about me, my service, or the people I’m serving. It’s ALL about HIM.

    I enjoyed your reminder very much. Thanks!

  5. Excellent and well written Mary…. 🙂

  6. beezwax says:


  7. Amen to that, friend!! What a great reminder. I think sometimes those who have been raised with a strong work ethic tend to fall into this trap of “if we do things right, we won’t fail” (insert kids into this too). It’s a deadly trap. Our ONLY TRUE HOPE is indeed in the Lord!!

  8. Rebekah says:

    Yes, I needed to hear that today! Thank you Mary!

  9. Amen, sister!!! Love it! xoxo

  10. How timely for this stressed out mom of 6 little ones…thank you for pointing me back to Him once again.

  11. i needed to read that tonight! thank you Mary!

  12. A beautiful post! well written and much needed.

  13. What a beautiful proclamation of your faith! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I agree 100% with your sentiments.