What God Says When We Can’t Do It All

Faith / Friday, June 1st, 2018

Do you feel like you should be able to do it all but keep finding out you can’t? God has something to say when we can’t do it all.

Some days make it abundantly clear that I can’t do it all, leaving me on my knees praying to God for help.


Chaos describes this morning best. I’m glad no one but God could see me – like a chicken with her head cut off, running around, struggling against the clock to pack lunches, make breakfast and listen to our son read the book we forgot about last night. When we had more time.

Upstairs, what am I looking for? I hunt for socks and library books. Amidst the chaos, the 2-year-old wakes, needing a diaper and breakfast. Why didn’t I make eggs for her when I made them for our son?

The oldest heads to the bus stop, returning quickly for a jacket. Spring mornings are chilly in Minnesota. Of course we can’t find it. Maybe in the car?

Off he runs, just beating the bus. From the front step, I wave a frantic goodbye, realizing I never hugged him.

It Happens A Lot

Not all mornings are like this – but more are than I’d like.

The day continues, exposing other unfinished things. Looking at the calendar, I realize there is field trip permission slips and school program RSVPs. Two kids are counting down the alphabet until the last day of school, of course starting on different days. They’ll need outfits, crazy hair, books, and stuff daily until school ends. There’s a 2-month-overdue 5-year-checkup. Maybe we’ll get the 2-year-checkup on time? Maybe. Those bills need to be paid. Everyone is overdue at the dentist. There are sign ups for Vacation Bible School and sports and when is that deadline? I think we missed it.

Some days.

I fail. I can’t keep it all straight. Just when I get started, the youngest tries to jump off a table (true story – happened after breakfast). I rescue her and forget what I was doing.

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It Happens More Than We’d Like

Some days, I feel like I’m just not doing this mama-thing right. 

Truth is, I’m doing a lot wrong. I mess up. I bark orders at kids because we’re unprepared. Then I rush our 1st grader through his book because if he misses the bus it will mess up the schedule. I feel frazzled and sad I missed my chance to connect with or hug our kids before school.

But it’s only the beginning. By day’s end, I’m wiped from all the things. What does my husband get? Well, some days I save energy, and show up so we can listen and connect. Some days we are wiped out together, snuggled on the couch not speaking. And some days, he gets leftovers. 

Too many days.

What about extended family and friends? Well, lately, they call me. Because we haven’t talked in weeks. Despite good intentions to call them, I get caught up in all the things – chasing little people, cleaning house, and running errands. I don’t slow down long enough to call anyone.

What about school? The year is done and I haven’t helped in either child’s classroom. It makes me feel like a freeloader. I only made it to have lunch with our son ONE time. In a whole year. While he still thinks that’s cool. 

The list goes on, but I think you get the point. What I’m not getting done feels insurmountable. It’s obvious – I cannot do it all.

I. Can’t. Do. All. The. Things.

Do you ever have moments like this? I do, more than I like.

As the familiar overwhelming feeling took over, there were two choices – cry, or pray. Or the third option – cry AND pray. I picked that one.

Through tears, I prayed for God’s leading and for His Spirit to equip me for everything He asks me to do today. I asked God to give me His perspective of how I was doing at this mom-thing.

Grabbing my Bible, I flipped it open haphazardly. It’s funny I thought it opened to a random page. Turning to the Bible for truth isn’t ever random. God knows exactly what we need and provides it. Time and time again.This was no exception. God’s word gives us His perspective and insight into how He sees us.

What does God say when we can’t do it all?

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1. God says my weakness is good.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9

Right then, feeling inadequate, no better truth could have been given to me. While I should try to do things with excellence and proper preparation, God knows I can’t do it all. He made me that way.

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2. God says my weakness has purpose.

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10 (ESV)

In our inadequacy, God can work through us, because we get out of His way and let him. Our failures reveal self-reliance and help us rely on God. If we could do it all, we wouldn’t find ourselves sobbing at His feet asking for help. Our failings force me to depend more fully on God’s sufficiency. This girl, with perfectionist tendencies, needs reminding.

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3. God promises grace

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.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)

Grace, upon grace, upon grace. While wallowing in self-pity and frustration over what I cannot do, I wonder what God thinks. Is God looking at me, shaking His head and perfect finger at my poor preparation?  Does He scoff at my tears and say, “You did this to yourself?”

Nope. Absolutely not.

God offers forgiveness for our lack of preparation, and for our sharp words at the kids. He forgives us for messing up the work He gave us to do and for trying to do it in our own, limited strength. We don’t deserve His kindness – its grace. A gift undeserved. It’s because of grace that we can approach His throne, clothed in Jesus’ righteousness, with the confidence He won’t turn us away.

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4. God’s love is unconditional.

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:39 (KJV)

Nothing can separate me from God’s perfect love and promises. I can’t earn His love by doing all the things. I can’t dazzle God by being an overachiever or doing it all by myself. 

Thank goodness He isn’t so easily impressed! God loves me because He loves me. I can’t mess it up. I can’t lose it by failing to finish something or by being frazzled and unprepared in the morning.

Neither can you.

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5. I can do it all through Him.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13 (ESV)

Hold up. Don’t get too excited – this doesn’t mean we have a magic wand to go do all the things. It doesn’t mean we can make ourselves super busy and do it all like a super-human mama. I’m officially not super-woman, and God isn’t asking that of me. And I’m certain He isn’t asking it of you either.

What this does mean, is God will give us everything we need to do what He has called each of us to do. We do need to honestly evaluate all the things and determine what needs to go. Assessing priorities and our schedule is a great place to start.

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Psalm 138:8 (ESV)

Do you see it? God fulfills the purpose. He gives us work to do, but the Holy Spirit equips and does the actual work through us. It’s a glorious loop when we get out of His way.

You guys, God is so cool! He does the work!

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6. We aren’t alone

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns

Psalm 46:5 (ESV)

Jesus didn’t die to save us just to leave us on our own until eternity. Instead, He sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to do His work and to do the work of sanctification in us. With the Spirit dwelling in us, we are literally never alone.

God gave us His Word to guide us and to reveal His character and attributes. He gave us worship to draw us closer to Him. He welcomes our prayers and speaks to us in the quiet. Spending time with God brings transformation, renewed minds, and the ability to determine His will (Romans 12:1-2). God’s help is immeasurable.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)
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Fellowship is a Gift

God also gives us the body of Christ. He gave us the gift of fellowship so we can be mutually encouraged by one another. Throughout scripture, we see people of high calling given help and support of other people. God gave Moses his brother Aaron (Exodus 6, 17) and his father-in-law(Exodus 18) to help him. Paul lists many who served alongside him in Romans 16. There are many more examples in scripture.

I’m meant to work in community with others. This is true of motherhood. It is true of all roles we fill as women. My current schedule feels overwhelming and this tells me I need help – from family, friends and God. Today, God helped me remember what He says about my weakness. After evaluating our schedule with my husband, I submitted my plans to God, and spent some time lining up some help.

Which of these truths did you need to hear today?

Additional Resources

When Our Hearts Revert to Self-Reliance, Marshall Segal, DesiringGod.org

How to Extend Love Even When You’ve Dropped The Ball, Jill E. McCormick

Failing Motherhood (And Why I Want My Kids To Know), Sara Lango, Gracefilled Growth

39 Replies to “What God Says When We Can’t Do It All”

  1. So beautifully written – I struggle with perfect mommy syndrome as well. The realization that it’s okay that we can’t be perfect (we never have been and never will be!) is freeing if we can give it to the Lord and trust Him through our imperfections. Thank you for these verses!

  2. There is a whole TV series for us moms who don’t have it all together called “The Middle.” It is so relatable because there is no way to juggle that many balls at once. This is unless you have a secretary, chauffeur, cook, and nurse in your house. We are all of these and so much more.

  3. I really needed this today as I am completely overwhelmed with life. We are in the midst of a move and career change and so much needs done and I feel defeated as I can never accomplish when needs to be done. I am so thankful for the reminder that my weakness is good and that it has purpose. I need to remain focused on being excited about how God will use me through this time.

    1. That is a lot to have on your plate, but it’s not too much for God! I hope as you seek Him and trust He is with you that He shows you some of the ways He is working in and through you! And I pray God gives you peace in the midst of so much change. God never changes and we can count on Him to remain steady!

  4. I can relate to this so much mama, right there with you on over due dental visits too! God’s grace is so good isn’t it? I often get caught up in the whirlwind and I need to sit and rest is His word more too.
    Thank you for all these good reminders.

    1. His grace is life-giving to my soul and I need more practice and discipline to rest in grace and His Word too! Thank you for your thoughts and spending some time here.

  5. I really needed to hear Im not the only momma suffering perfection and making huge messes everywhere. Thank you for your words. They are gentle truthful and powerful. I especially loved point 4 – i read it twice

    1. I’m so thankful you spent time being encouraged here! You are definitely not the only one struggling against the desire to be perfect-it’s a daily battle for me. Funny thing is, the more I focus on perfect, the more I see glaring failures and mistakes. Praying God gives you His perspective and confidence that His love is steadfast and everlasting. He knows every misstep we will ever take and chooses to love us! Nothing can separate us from that love. What a gracious God we serve!

  6. I love the verse form 2 Corthians that says my strengthn is sufficient becuase my power is made evident in your weakness. We can’t but when we aknowledge our weakness, God’s power can share through it.

  7. What life-giving truths! We cannot possibly do it all, and our weaknesses are supposed to be there so that God can be glorified through those weaknesses!

    1. You are so right! Otherwise we are too tempted to believe we did it alone, and take the glory that is rightfully His!

  8. The 2 that sticks out to me the most is God’s unending grace and our need for the body! I love, love, love these reminders and we can never get them enough. We wear the weight of the world on our shoulders while He’s waiting for us to hand it all over to Him and to ask help from others around us as well.

    1. I love how you state this – the world on our shoulders while He waits. Such a powerful visual. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!

  9. I love this so much! 6 of our 7 kiddos are still living at home, I am attending Liberty University full time and trying to launch my ministry. It is exhausting and more and more God is teaching me that I need to only rest in Him and He will carry me through. Thank you so much for this!

    1. Becca, I pray God will uphold you and encourage you daily with His word and His people as you rely on Him!

  10. I know my wife would agree with all this, but as a working husband I feel the strain too. There are days when I feel like I’m doing 100 things with mediocrity instead of a few things with excellence.
    Your comment about doing all things through Christ who strengthens me: that’s the truth I try to cling to. I also have to honestly assess how many things God actually wants me doing. He’s constantly pruning my life, so it doesn’t shock me any more when God helps me accomplish his purposes and let’s my purposes fail. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Yes! This is not just something women feel, my husband feels stretched this way too. Thank you for giving your perspective and reminding me that men struggle in their roles as well!

  11. So many good thoughts here. I think part of the “magic” of God’s power made perfect in weakness is that we realize we need to get out of the way. We are humbled. And that’s a beautiful place to be, though the path there is usually painful.

    I think too often we measure by the wrong standards. There’s so much pressure and expectation on moms today. Our first job is to be like Jesus to our children, all that makes in comparison to whether they have organic eggs or Coco puffs ;).

    You got it right, Mama. We are not alone, his grace is sufficient, and we can do all things through Christ!

    1. Oh! You are so right that the path to humble can be painful and difficult. And yet, you’re also right that a humbled place is a beautiful place to be. It’s certainly where I am able to be the most useful to God, and where I can see His goodness through the difficulty. Thank you for these thoughts and spending some time here sharing with us.

  12. This was such a wonderful post. Even not being a mother, I tend to get so overwhelmed by the unknown and try to control everything. So this was such an important reminder to turn to God and allow Him to guide me through life! Keep up the great posts 💕

    1. Thank you, Kristen, for your encouraging words. I agree with you that it isn’t just moms who get overwhelmed. Each of us are called to so many different roles and we can wrestle with our weaknesses and limitations in all of those roles! Thank you for sharing your thoughts here today.

  13. As an older mama, one in college and one in high school, I get it. I, too, struggled with balance but what I’ve learned is that the best time is simply that – time. Who cares if the house is fully clean and tidy? Who cares if you made homemade cupcakes or purchased storebought ones to save time? No one. What matters is simply time spent with the kiddos. Those memories make for deep connection that only a mama can give. Just love and spend as much time as you can loving well, forgetting all the unimportant details, and remembering the most important one – time. Say no to others – often – because all too soon you’ll be sending them off to college.

    The scriptures you shared are right on – it’s vital to remember that even when we don’t do time well, God covers us in His grace.

  14. What a beautiful message for moms and dads! I have always struggled with the desire to be all things to everyone in my family and feel like a failure when I fail at that, which is often! I appreciate your real life example. Though my kids are older now, the frenetic pace has not really changed. I was struck by your comment. ” My failures reveal self-reliance and help me rely on God.” That hit home Little by little, I am learning to let God be God and keep myself in my human role as I should. But, wow, does that seem difficult for some reason. I appreciate all your scripture encouragements to help keep me grounded. God’s Word always helps me. Blessings to you and your family!

  15. The six lessons you have outlined are massive and your willingness to describe your own life as an example is humbling = thank you. Life so often is live R&D from which we can fail forwards.

    You are so right none of can do everything and trying to do everything is the wrong life-game to play.

    The lesson I needed to hear to day is that “We / I are not alone” Too often I make the mistake that it is all down to me. Thank you for the reminder that I am not.

  16. What would we do without Jesus! He holds us up and puts us back together in all of these trials, frantic times and sickness, heartache and silence. These years of chaos and frenzy will be days you will look back on with fondness. These are the good ol’ days. I know it’s hard to believe from this perspective when the chaotic days occur, but when your children are all grown and your house is quiet, you will see these days from a wider view. God is in this, leading you and guiding you. All is a blessing.

  17. Oh, yes, Elaine. I have some days and more-than-I-want days too. Love all your tips and especially that our weakness has purpose. If we were never weak, there would be no need for Christ’s strength perfected in us. If we always had our act together, God’s acts wouldn’t shine through. Such a good reminder! Thank you!

  18. The truth that I needed to hear today is that I am not alone. What a beautiful gift we have been given to be in community and fellowship with the body of Christ.

  19. I have come back to this post so many times when I felt like I was failing the most. You truly break down the question of how to act when we can’t do it all. Thank you for not only your inspiration but also your motivation!

  20. Dear Elaine,

    You have some lovely images here in this blog post. I can relate to these kinds of days you’re describing in this blog post.

    My favourite among those you shared, if I have to pick one, would the one about God’s love being unconditional.

    With love,
    Edna Davidsen

  21. Hi Elaine. You described the chaos so well, even a guy could relate! Glad you managed to slice enough space and energy to write this. It is very timely because it reminded me of truths I should refer to as we kick off a new Bible study series at work tomorrow on Moses, the reluctant leader. All 6 points relate, but especially the two on weakness and when you said we can have all we need in order to do what God wants of us. Thank you for majing the time to write.

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