Grace: noun. \grás\
a. The quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful
b. Disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
c. Unmerited mercy or favor
“We all make mistakes, sweetheart, no one is perfect” we say to comfort our crying children after their mistakes. Yet we expect ourselves to be perfect, and it’s no surprise with the way our culture operates.
Every which way you turn, you’re bombarded with more pressure to look and be better.Pinterest….Magazines…Infomercials…The world is shouting at us to be faster and better, more fit and more organized.
It’s not that I’m anti-self-improvement or progress, but I’ve caught myself lately getting carried away. Although I would usually describe my personality as pretty laid back, there is a part of me that is always striving to be better. If I’m honest, I’m striving for perfection. I know it’s unrealistic, but I do it anyway. And then every time I fall short, I feel like I’m not good enough. There’s definitely a shortage of grace going on.
I feel guilty on any given day for at least one of the following:
-Letting the kids watch too much TV
-My van being a disaster (insert snicker from those of you who are too cool for the mini-van)
-Not reading to the kids often enough
-Not exercising enough
-My messy, disorganized house
-Not having a “home cooked” dinner on the table
-Not feeding our family super healthy and organic
-Poor money management or an unwise shopping spree
-Looking frazzled or frumpy
-Not paying enough one-on-one attention to the kids
-Eating too many cookies
-Yelling at the dog
-Lack of patience
-Feeling like two kids is “so hard” when I know other moms have more kids than I do!
Maybe your guilt comes from:
-Not breastfeeding or having a “natural birth”
-Working outside the home
-The kids spending more time with the babysitter than with you
-Working too much
-Liking work so much
-Allowing that accident to happen when you could have prevented it
-Getting a divorce
-Not giving your kids that car/phone/vacation of their dreams
-Not fitting into your old “skinny jeans”
-Not wanting more kids
-___________________(Fill in the blank)
Okay, so I want you to imagine yourself in the middle of a very stressful day. You’re overwhelmed and the house is a mess. Your armpits are stinky, you’re frazzled and you’re most definitely counting down the hours until bedtime.
You walk into your kitchen, and there sitting in the middle of the table is a super beautiful gift, all wrapped up in a box with pretty paper and gorgeous ribbons.
You walk closer, and you see that it has your name on it. You immediately feel excited, and rightly so!
You slowly remove the paper, unsure of who the gift is from or what it is for. You pull back the lid from the box, and as you do, you feel a gigantic weight lift off of your shoulders. You take a deep, cleansing breath (the first one you’ve had all day). You feel an unfamiliar sense of peace permeate your entire being, and in that moment you’re freed of all anxiety and stress. You find yourself thinking (and actually believing,) “I’m an awesome mom, and I’m doing a great job!”
Holy smokes, you feel good. You find a little handwritten note at the bottom of the box. It reads,
Give yourself some grace.
Your future self
It feels good to receive grace, and to give it away. It’s amazing how something so intangible that costs nothing can be so powerful.
In my faith, I have experienced grace on so many levels. I believe that God has given me grace that I don’t deserve, and that grace has given me the amazing gift of freedom from guilt and condemnation. I want to extend this gift of grace to myself (the hardest person for me to give it to), my family, and humanity as a whole.
I would challenge you to give yourself a little more grace today.
You are enough.
You have enough.
You do enough.
And oh yeah, we all make mistakes. So let yourself off the hook. Take a few deep breaths for once in your life.
My next challenge is for you to give grace away. You see a mom in the baby aisle at Target whose toddler just puked and her newborn is screaming in the back of the cart? Say with a smile, “Hey, I’ve so been there.” Maybe even offer to grab her a drink from Starbucks. AT THE VERY LEAST, SMILE AT OTHER MOMS!!
Did your kid make a ridiculous mess or do something totally crazy? Don’t lose your cool. Stuff is stuff, and it will fade. Show your little ones the unmerited kindness that we, too, need when we fall short. Your dog ripped up your favorite pillow? Instead of screaming at him and freaking out and losing your cool, just imagine for a moment how boring his life must be sometimes, and how fun ripping up that pillow must have been.
Let’s be givers of grace. As an added plus, this will bring about more grace (kinda like paying it forward). Grace inspires people to give it out freely. It multiplies like crazy.
Do you hold yourself to an unrealistic standard?
Who do you need to give a little more grace to?
What guilts do you need to let GRACE overcome in your life?