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5 Practical Ways to Give Yourself Grace
How a Mixed girl is learning to give herself grace for life's journey & you can too!
Do you struggle to give yourself grace?
Truth be told, I haven’t always been great at giving grace to others either. Maybe it was time. Maybe maturity. Maybe a combo of both, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to extend grace to others. So why do I still struggle so much to give myself the same gift?
Have you been there?
I’m not sure when it happened. I remember being a pretty easygoing little girl. But somewhere between 4-H club, Sunday school, cheerleading, and SAT tests, I became a hard-core, no-room-for-errors-or-grace teenager. I set unrealistic expectations for myself and believed grace didn’t apply to me.
This mindset seeped into the fabric of my being, weaving itself into every area of my life. Although I could sing every word of Amazing Grace and quote Bible verses, I had no idea what it really meant. Grace was a foreign concept. I knew the Biblical definition was to have unmerited favor (whatever that meant). But I didn’t have a clue how to have grace for anyone, including myself. And if I’m honest, I wasn’t looking to learn.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d become obsessed with what other people thought of me. After our kids were born, I remember being so afraid that people would think I was a bad mom, that I would discipline and over-correct my kids for the smallest offense like taking a toy or not wanting to share theirs. Most of the time, they were simply being kids. But in my ridged no grace world “just being kids” was a luxury I couldn’t afford.
I’d learned to see the world and the people in it through a very narrow lens.
Work hard for what you have. Everyone struggles. You get what you deserve.
Nothing is for free. And it can all disappear in an instant.
It was really that cut and dry.
I looked at every person and situation through a negative lens.
Not because I wanted to, but because I’d learned to.
While all of those statements are true, at the time, I believed that striving = success.
And if you’re constantly striving for a desired outcome, there’s no room for failure. If there’s no room for failure, then there’s no need for grace.
Looking back I can see it all so clearly now. I see how a girl who was different because of her skin and hair desperately wanted to be accepted. She learned that mistakes might cost her friendships and opportunities. Failure wasn’t an option. So neither was grace. Ultimately, she came to believe the grace was something she didn’t deserve.
Many thought I was a perfectionist, a label I wore for decades. But I’m not sure that was ever accurate.
I might argue now, that I was never a perfectionist. It was never about everything having to be perfect or done “the right way”. It was about me believing I had to be perfect or risk not being accepted.
One of the hardest things in my healing journey has been learning to give myself grace.
In an earlier article, I wrote how I prayed for God to help me see others and love them the way He does. As God began answering my prayer, my heart began to soften. I started feeling compassion and empathy for others and their circumstances. Before I knew it, grace became my natural response to them.
But, I still couldn’t (or wouldn’t) offer myself the same. While thankful for where God had brought me and all the healing He was doing in my life, I continued to beat myself up for how long it took me to get here. Thirty years! That’s a lifetime! Guilt surrounded me, constantly reminding me of all the time I’d lost. While I know God’s timing is perfect, I blamed myself for taking too long.
When I wasn’t flogging myself with guilt, I was shaming myself into rushing my healing. I work at a church. I know all the right verses to read. I mean, I literally quote them to people on the opposite side of my desk all the time! Yet, I struggled to believe they truly applied to me. Side note: for those who don’t work in ministry, this is a peak behind the curtain and a bit of a reality check. All the people who work at churches are flawed humans who are navigating their own struggles with life, faith, forgiveness, grace and a myriad of other things, just like you. So please be kind. Ok…back to our convo.
I’d love to conclude this piece with a “Yay! I did it and so can you!” vibe. But that wouldn’t be the truth. I’m still a work in progress. Some days are a struggle. Although I’ve finally accepted that God’s grace applies to me too, old habits die hard. Comparison and guilt like to creep back in at times. I’d love to say I’m quick to keep them in check, somedays they still win. But not every day. And not as often. Day by day I’m getting better at naming them, of shutting down the lies, and replacing them with God’s truth.
One day at a time…
5 Ways to Give Yourself Grace
While the struggle is real, it’s not impossible. God is in it with us.
These are some practical ways I’m learning to invite grace into my days.
I hope they help & encourage you too.
Be Mindful of Comparison. It’s a slippery slope, I know. But when I start to slip and feel myself getting upset for not being as good, as far along, as equipped, as _____ as someone else, I’m learning to pause and reset my focus on Jesus and my own journey. Your journey is your own and doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s.
Pray. It sounds so simple, but prayer is powerful. Invite Jesus into this area of your life and ask Him to help you accept His grace in your life.
Keep a Grace Journal. Sometimes it’s hard to see our own progress day by day. But when we reflect on how far we’ve come, it energizes us to keep going. Record your wins - the times when you gave yourself grace. Then periodically, take time to recognize how God is teaching you to accept His grace in your life.
Speak God’s Truth Over Yourself. This has been a big one for me. Replacing the lies with what God says about you, reminds you that His grace IS enough. Remember, if God delights in you, then you can give yourself the grace to do the same.
Learn to Laugh. We take ourselves so seriously, don’t we? Sometimes we just need to laugh at our mistakes and realize they don’t define our worth. We all get it wrong from time to time. We’re humans. Take a deep breath, learn from them, have a good laugh, then get all Elsa on that mistake and Let. It. Go!
BONUS: Give Yourself Permission to Say “No”. I get it. Saying “no” to things is tough. We don’t want to disappoint or put someone in a hard situation. BUT No isn’t a bad word. And you don’t have to feel guilty or give an explanation for protecting your peace by saying “no”.
Friend, Do you struggle to give yourself grace?
If we’re honest, I think most of us do. You’re not alone. When we lean into the truth that God’s grace is for us, it covers us and it is ENOUGH, life gets a bit lighter. There’s freedom in learning to give grace to yourself.
How are you going to give yourself grace this week?
Drop your number (1-6) in the comments.
I’m cheering for you!
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A Little Something Extra…
Each week, I like to share a little something extra, something I’ve found fun or helpful. It might be a post, book, podcast, tv show, movie, song, Bible verse…or something else I think you’ll enjoy.
When I first stepped into this wild world of writing, Jill was one of the first people I met. You know when you meet someone but feel like you’ve been friends forever? That was Jill. We just clicked. Her warmth and sweetness are so tangible and sincere you just want to curl up with a glass of sweet tea and talk all day!
Like most of us, Jill wears several hats: momma, wife, ministry staff, writer, and podcaster just to name a few. She has the biggest heart and loves people so well. Jill has been a huge encouragement in my own journey, speaking truth into my life and reminding me who God created me to be.
Recently, Jill invited me to be a guest on her podcast, The Grace in Real Life Podcast, where she is currently hosting a race + grace series. She has a heartbeat for racial reconciliation and unity. If you’re wondering what an ally looks like or how to become one, Jill is a great place to start!
While our episode touches on parts of my story, it focuses on “How We Can Expand Our Circles to Include People Who Don’t Look Like Us.” We break down the myth that being colorblind is best and give practical tips on how you can begin to expand your own circle, even if you live in a community with limited diversity.
Click below to catch the full episode. And be sure to follow Jill on Instagram and at Grace in Real Life Podcast!
**Podcast available on all your favorite podcast providers.
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