One thing I do love about the internet (I know, you’d think there weren’t any by the way I degrade it lately) is the abundance of great blogs and writing. Any given day, some intelligent, funny, insightful, or aggravated person has decided to openly share their thoughts. Most of the time, these thoughts provide a little nugget of hope, joy, or laughter to start the day. Today, one (very funny) blogger wrote about her adventures with blind dating. She provided useful tips on how to approach a blind date, what not to do, and even her own experiences. Another (very famous) blogger wrote about extending grace to everyone, not just those outside of the church.
The same message was true for both writers, on both topics. For anyone not familiar with the term “grace”, it easily translates into others terms like, “slack” and “forgiveness”. It’s not a difficult term. In fact, it’s one of the most popular in Christian circles and could be popular in other circles if we just used it. Essentially, grace is something we can all extend to others, but rarely do if we’ve never given it to ourselves.
My dogs actually understand the term better than I do. Sophie, the youngest of the two, was found in this position when I got out of the shower today. Her look simply said, “Mama, I just can’t get out of bed today.”
On other occasions, Sophie has spilled her food all over herself and the floor, clumsily bumped into walls, passed gas aloud, and forgotten where she left her ball. Sometimes, all in one day. Do you know that she never stops to put herself down? She never looks around shamefully to see if anyone noticed or to gauge her embarrassment. Soph simply keeps moving forward. She keeps looking for the ball, she turns around and continues on her quest, and she doesn’t even notice the mess or smell she’s left behind. She only knows that she’s a dog, she is loved, and the rest doesn’t matter.
This same innocence is found in little kids. My new friend (we’ll call him Jake to protect his identity) is 2 ½ years old, and the other day during lunch that kid got peanut butter on every crevice of his face. He even had that sticky, sweet goop in his ear, eye, and back of his neck. Plain and simple, he enjoyed that sandwich and didn’t care what kind of mess he made.
Sure, adults would look silly with peanut butter smattered across all body parts, but I think the best thing you can do for yourself this year is give you a little grace. Yesterday I was late to the dentist because I left my keys in my husband’s car (who was nowhere near the dentist). I called myself a dork (or worse). A day before that, I tripped up the stairs in front of a few people. “How do I make this look graceful,” I thought to myself. And many days before that I had not cleaned the house, procrastinated homework, forgotten to make that phone call, gotten angry over something silly, and slipped my foot directly in my mouth. Exactly none of those times did I give myself any grace.
I’m always telling friends to be easy on themselves, to forgive their discrepancies, to relax and be kind to themselves, but rarely do I do that for me. I’m going out on a limb here and thinking that if we just allow ourselves to be less than perfect, we might have an easier time letting others be less than perfect. Also, if we cut ourselves a little slack, maybe we’ll find that our stress levels decrease and our joy levels increase.
Forgive yourself for that toothpaste stain on your collar. Forgive yourself for skipping today’s workout. Forgive yourself for yelling at that guy on the road during rush hour or for getting upset with your child. We’re all working towards the same thing—being a better us. I just don’t think we can do that without reminding ourselves that if we were already perfect, there’d be nothing to work for. There would be no goals, there would be no need for hope, and certainly, absolutely, no reason for Jesus.
Some of you don’t know Jesus and His grace, and that’s okay today. Hopefully, someday you will. But, for now, practice this ritual of telling yourself that perfection is overrated and unachievable. Forgive yourself for mistakes and keep moving forward. When you do mess up (sorry, if you didn’t get this yet, you will) tell yourself that next time you’ll try something different or do a little better. But, for now and for today, you’re only human, you’re loved, and it’s alright. I think you’ll find that cutting you some slack will change many things in your life. I also think you’ll find that you are closer and know Jesus more than you think.
Happy grace giving.
Want to know the term grace or who Jesus is? Check out "This is Amazing Grace".