This post is about grace.
A dear friend of mine, who also happens to be a particularly talented musician, has a song called, “This Song is About Grace.” The lyrics have been echoing through my head over the past week — the icing on the cake that is grace, the idea I’ve been poring over recently like a ravenous beast. So hungry for it, yet so afraid of the sweet taste. (Calories, probably?)
I suck at grace. I always have. While I’m adequately equipped to offer grace (sometimes to a fault) I’ve never been good at receiving it. I can distinctly remember times as a child when an adult would scold me and I’d think something along the lines of, That’s it. I’ve blown it. He/she will hate me forever. Sadly, that hasn’t changed much.
I’d go to the dentist and get a thousand cavities filled before I accepted another person’s grace and forgiveness, whether that person is a family member, friend, mentor, whatever. Don’t try to give me grace. I won’t take it. Or, I will take it, but then I’ll silently dismiss it, like running to Grace-Mart to exchange this beautiful thing for something uglier. Like self-loathing. Or an orange tweed blazer which, against my skin tone, is practically the same thing.
I have this friend. And I feel like I can’t borrow anything from this friend without at least half-way destroying it. It started with one of his favorite books I gave that book a bath by accident. Then, I borrowed his house and kids for a week. The kids were fine (albeit probably sick of Italian food) by the end of it all, but I couldn’t manage to return his house to him without also giving him a freshly bleached pillow sham, courtesy of the Proactiv on my face.
In the grand scheme of things, those examples are pretty minor (and completely accidental) offenses. But they kill me. Over and over they kill me. And as for the big failures? Like Sunday night’s huge, more than likely hormone-induced, fight with my husband that resulted in him sleeping on the couch for the first time in our marriage? Well. Forget it.
Why is this? Why is it so difficult for me to let myself be forgiven and loved by others? Am I alone in this? Am I the only one who thinks like this?
My sneaking suspicion says no.
When you know yourself as well as I know me, it’s hard to not label your faults (as opposed to all the wonderful things about you) as your “real” self. You are, after all, the only one on earth who is privy to the knowledge of each and every single failure you’ve ever executed. So, I suppose, it stands to reason that it would be hard to let someone forgive you for accidentally bleaching their pillow sham. Because then, you’d also have to accept forgiveness for all the other metaphorical pillow shams you’ve bleached in your life, both accidentally and otherwise, and that would mean freeing yourself from the notion that you are only as good as the times you haven’t failed which, of course, are fewer and more far between than the times you have.
TODAY’S SELF-LOVE TIP: GRACE IS REAL.
According to Dictionary.com, grace is, indeed, a real thing, no matter how unfathomable it may be at times:
grace (n, v):
- elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
- a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.
- favor or goodwill.
- a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior.
- mercy; clemency; pardon.
Elegance. Beauty. Mercy. Favor.
It can be hard to accept things like that when you know that you’re a habitual pillow sham bleacher and/or book bather. But grace is real. And if we could only learn to show ourselves some grace first, we could maybe be better at accepting it from others.
Learning how to show myself grace is arguably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Watching myself fail and then making every effort to stop all of the negative self-talk from flooding my brain has proven to be way too challenging. But, after being diligent with it for a while, I think that it’s finally starting to stick.
It’s okay. It’s just a book. The pages are still readable, even if they are unfortunately crinkly.
It’s okay. It’s just a pillow sham. At least it’s not one of the kids.
It’s okay. It’s just one fight. We’ve been together four years and this is the first time it’s happened.
It’s okay. You’re human. Humans make mistakes.
It’s okay. You are still loved.
Maybe I’m alone. Maybe you’ve got this grace thing down already. If you do, that is awesome. But if you’re like me, and you’re trapped in this cyclical pattern of walking on egg shells only to beat yourself to a bloody pulp each time you accidentally break one, know that the effort it takes to show yourself grace is so unbelievably worth it. Just like you can’t fully love someone else until you love yourself, you can’t really extend grace or accept it from others until you learn to give yourself a little.
What do you need to forgive yourself for?