I feel like social media is constantly barraging us with messages and noise. “You are enough” – “You are not enough” – “You are thin” – “You are not thin” – “You are a good homeschooling Mama.” – “Oh no wait, you’re a really bad and not fun homeschooling Mama.” The list goes on. Sometimes in the midst of daily life and the continuous noise we hear from those around us, it is tempting to put our head down and freeze. Sure, we can get off social media or lock ourselves in our house, but none of that can last long.
As I approach my 31st birthday this week, I am reflecting back on the one word I chose for the year of being 30. GRACE. On my birthday last year I wrote, “I want more for other people, more for my family and more for myself. Because if I have learned anything these past 10 years it is that life isn’t easy and we are all fighting battles that others don’t see.”
By no means I have “arrived” at having or giving grace, but indeed this has been a year marked by the many good things that grace brings to our lives and the lives of those around us.
The pressure the world puts on us to perform, succeed and “be the best” can truly wear us out. We see it in the pervasive theme of self-care, the battle against anxiety and the lack of community most people feel even though we have more ways to connect than ever. Is there a way to break through the noise and get a little breath of fresh air?
Trade guilt for grace.
Many people live in a sea of guilt. Without realizing it, we make others feel guilty and we allow the things around us to make us feel guilty. I am not suggesting we throw out guilt entirely from our lives because conviction is quite necessary, but feelings of guilt over the everyday things we do or don’t do should not paralyze us.
Grace is extending a blessing to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Maybe the person is your husband, your toddler, or how about yourself. Instead of dwelling on the offense committed, giving grace goes a long way. In your marriage this can range from little to big things. When your husband forgets to take out trash for the umpteenth time, is there a way to show grace before guilting him into being a better husband? When your toddler spills food or paint or even poo all over the floor, grace can keep you from going crazy on a 3 year old. When you look in the mirror and see something you are trying to change, give yourself a little grace and consider the season of life you are in.
Don’t allow guilt to make you freeze. A certain amount spurs on positive growth and change, but if left unchecked it can leave us feeling crashed against the waves. Grace allows you to bless others and yourself even when you’re unworthy. Even when your husband rightfully needs to step his husband game up, show some grace. Even when your toddler really does need to learn how to tidy up or obey a little better, grace will help you and that little person get there together. And even when you do need to become a little more disciplined or a better friend, grace helps you see that you’re not completely failing as a person.
Last year I wrote, “I’m not good at grace though. I like to earn your favor and I want you to earn mine. But that’s not Christ. ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.'” Ephesians 2:8-9
Making people earn our favor and attempting to earn others is exhausting. It is a vicious cycle of offense, guilt and broken relationships. Instead, make an effort to give people good things that they could never earn. Whether it is your husband, your toddler, a stranger or yourself — looks for ways to trade guilt for grace.
I am beyond thankful for God’s saving grace on my life and so glad that I don’t have to earn it because I would daily drown in a sea of guilt. “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