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The World’s Worst Discipler

So, I cried…a lot. I don’t cry that often. There was a time when I went years without crying and was sadly proud of this fact.

I sat in bed crying while my husband slept. It’s not his fault. He just happens to sleep like a coma patient. I should add too that he had nothing to do with my crying.

It was all me…well, all me and my enemy. I have failed lately. Failed in relationships. Failed in discipleship.  Failed with sin. Failed to run to God. It seems failure is all around me and I’m to blame.

I just realized it too late. If this was a test, I had scored a big fat “F.”

(Why is it that we can’t see the forest through the trees? Why can’t we kick our own asses before it’s too late?) I needed a swift kick to the behind and when it came it was from someone else…someone that I had failed.

A disciple of mine. After 2 years of a discipleship relationship, she informed me that I was basically sucking. I never called. I didn’t see her. I didn’t text. Oh, and the biggie…the one that cut me and bled my heart–that all I ever did was tell her what she was doing wrong. I offered no grace.

Drumroll please….Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls–Introducing Nicole Cottrell, the WORLD”S WORST DISCIPLER.

(applause) Thank you, thank you…

I felt (and still feel) like scum. I feel like a failure. A big fat failure, to go with my big fat “F.”

I know the truth though and I have to remind myself because no one else will. These aren’t excuses, but me admitting the “why” behind my failure: I didn’t call ’cause I’m not much of a phone person. I didn’t see her for weeks on account of our constantly conflicting schedules. I didn’t text because I find it impersonal. these are all areas where I failed…

..But I also know that I did not just point out her failures or shake a big fat judgmental finger at her.

There is the truth. I know I encouraged her. I  know I equipped her. I know I told her to not condemn herself when she slipped up and fell into sin.

I keep hearing “You failed. You suck.” run through my head. But then I have to keep reminding myself of the truth. I wasn’t perfect. Far from it. But I am also not guilty of that which she has accused me.

Why is it so hard for the truth to seep into our brains at times? Why can’t we digest it easily? It’s truth after all. It is good for us. Nutritious, but admittedly not always delicious.

This time, I guess that my truth portion was hard to swallow because despite the fact that I knew I wasn’t as horrible and sucky as I had been portrayed, I also had to own up to the areas where I had failed….and there were plenty.

In the final months of our discipleship relationship, I hadn’t been consistent. I had broken my word. I had been MIA. Of course, I could give excuses: I’m pregnant. I’m very pregnant. I have two little kids. I’ve been traveling. I’m juggling a home, motherhood, a marriage, and a blog. Yadda, yadda. yadda.

Excuses don’t count and they offer no satisfaction to either party. Instead, I had to just accept it. I had failed. I asked for the Lord’s forgiveness for these things. I apologized to my former disciple and then I cried. I sat crying in bed because well, I’m sad. Sad that I’m not perfect. Sad that at times when it seems I am making ground, I take 50 gigantic steps back. Sad that all of this makes me feel so alone.

And for right now, I’m okay with being sad. I know the truth will eventually soak in and begin to heal. I know that God is here even though I can’t feel Him. I know I’m not the world’s worst discipler, even if it feels like it. I know. I trust. I’m just waiting for it to feel that way too…

When was a time when the truth was not spoken about you and you had to battle that lie–mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? What in your life has seemed, at least initially, like a huge failure? What did you learn?

update: My former disciple contacted me and clarified, thus apologizing, for saying that I only pointed out her failings. That was kindness from the Lord towards me and I recognize it as such.

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nicolecottrell@churchleaders.com'
Nicole Cottrell is trained in the fine art of button-pushing. She uses her skills daily on Modern Reject where she writes about the intersection of faith and culture as well as the unpopular stuff no one else likes to talk about. Nicole is a speaker, writer, discipler, and coffee fanatic. She and her husband planted the Foundation, a network of house churches in Arizona. Nicole lives in Scottsdale with her husband and two little munchkins, three of the coolest and funniest people she knows.