Wednesday, June 29, 2011

be kind to yourself.

{from here via Kara}

Last week, I had a less-than-perfect moment.

Let's be clear: Most, if not all, of my moments are less-than-perfect.

But this was different.

A few weeks ago, our Bible study group finished a study of Francis Chan's book Forgotten God. Since then, I've found myself trying to pray for awareness of the Spirit, how He moves, what He says, where He's asking me to go.

On Tuesday, I prayed that same prayer, and a few hours later, I felt the Spirit's nudge, and I ignored it.

I won't retell the story here, but as I sat in the Publix parking lot with tears in my eyes, I felt like I'd done God a disservice.

He had spoken, and I had done nothing.

As I shared my heart with Jordan, he gave me what I think was great advice.

"You can't change what you did, but you can decide now how you'll approach situations like this in the future."

They were wise words, and a week later, I'm still mulling through the should-haves and the could-haves to try to discover what exactly the "right" thing is.

I don't know the answer to that question just yet.

But I do know that sometimes the soul that most needs grace is my own.

I want to hold myself to a high standard. I want to be found worthy of my calling. I want to be holy, as He is holy.

But I am going to fail.

There will be days when I say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. I will forget to return emails and phone calls. I will speak sharp words to my husband. I will leave dirty dishes in the sink and laundry souring in the washer. I will not give 100 percent at work, and I will not be the daughter or sister I know I can be.

Forgiveness comes hard when we find ourselves as the needy recipients.

I don't know if it's the perfectionist buried not-so-deep inside of me, or if it's some eldest child complex, but I'm prone to think that I can do it all. I tend to believe I am wonder woman. There's even a magnet I've proudly displayed on our refrigerator door: "I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world."

But I can't.

I can't because I am imperfect and flawed, and I struggle and muddle my way through just like everybody else.

The only difference is, while I am learning -- slowly but surely -- how to bestow grace on others, I show far too little to myself.

I hold myself up to some impossible standard, and when I stumble, I forget that it's okay. There is grace for me too.

Maybe you forget too. Maybe you're surrounded by people who only show the best versions of themselves, and you don't quite measure up.

Friend, trust me on this: none of us measure up.

None of us are good enough.

But grace was instituted for people like us.

This act of bestowing grace to those we come in contact with is critical to our faith. Forgiveness, mercy, and compassion are the cornerstones on which Christ's ministry was built.

But we're missing the point if we forget to offer the same gift to ourselves.

The life we're living is rooted in grace; all is grace. If we truly believe that, if we trust that this life is a gift and that the sky and the clouds and the grass and the laughter of children and the food that we eat and the friends that we love are all wrapped in one grand act of grace, we must know that we are not an exception.

Created in His image, our hearts cry out for grace in the moments when we need it the very most.

"Holiness," L'Engle writes, "is nothing we can earn."

That's hard for my little heart to take some days. What? You mean God's not going to bestow little gold stars for the good deeds I do throughout the week?


"It [holiness] has nothing to do with virtue or job descriptions or morality. It is nothing we can do, in this do-it-yourself world. It is gift, sheer gift, waiting there to be recognized and received. We do not have to be qualified to be holy."

Part of me -- the perfectionist part of me -- breaks at this thought, but the other part of me? The growing part of me? The part that is desperate for grace-in-the-moment?

That part of me soars free.

"Following Christ has nothing to do with success as the world sees success. It has to do with love."
- Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water


Laken said...

This is really beautiful, Annie. Honest and real.

Kristen said...

I was just contemplating how real grace is. How honestly hard it can be to recognize and accept.

Beautifully written.

Julianne said...

Beautiful, Annie! This is a post I'm sure to reread in the future.

Mom said...

I loved this! Last night the chapter I was reading in Bittersweet was about this very thing! We need Grace ourselves, we need to recognize and accept it! I love you, this was just so good!!

Brittany said...

Annie, I love this. I love how genuine you are about life and about spirituality. You inspire me to be better! Thanks!

Jennifer said...

I don't know if it's the perfectionist buried not-so-deep inside of me, or if it's some eldest child complex, but I'm prone to think that I can do it all. I tend to believe I am wonder woman. - this really hit home with me. I totally believe this too. (And I'm pretty sure I have some sort of eldest child complex. Haha!) I am so prone to beat myself up for imperfections...but I will never live up to my standards or God's. It's something He has to do in me, which is hard to grasp a lot of times. Thanks for posting this!