What happens as a baby takes his or her first of many wobbly steps? Spoiler alert- they fall. It is inevitable. When they miss a step, fail, or even get frustrated, the child isn’t met with harsh criticism and rebuke. Instead, they are encouraged, rallied on, and given grace by their doting parents (who are holding their breath at this point) as they figure out this whole walking-thing.
My son has a few years of walking under his belt, but he’s constantly developing new skills. As a working mama (working on business and myself all the time), I’m constantly praying for extra grace for my son. I want to be patient with him as he figures it all out. I want him to know it’s okay to keep trying.
Our children aren’t the only ones learning new things.
Adults, like you and I, are learning all the time- how to juggle between work and family life, how to eat healthier, how to survive parenthood on 3.5 hours of sleep every night, etc. With every promotion, change, and transition comes new skills to master and lessons to learn. We might have mastered the whole walking-thing, but just like our kids, we are always learning something new about life, relationships, ourselves, etc.
It’s important to give ourselves grace as we continue to grow.
THE HARDEST PERSON TO GIVE GRACE TO
More often than not we throw grace like confetti to our friends and kids and to others. When they mess up or miss a step, we recognize there’s a learning curve and that they’re human. We aren’t nearly as disappointed in them as we are in ourselves if and when we fail or struggle. We have the hardest time giving OURSELVES the same grace we give to others.
Why is this?
Many of us have higher expectations for ourselves than we do for other people. It’s the mindset of “as long as I’m doing it right, it’s alright”.
When you’re the kind of person that equates happiness with specific success or by meeting certain standards, giving yourself grace isn’t easy.
As a new mom hit by severe anxiety, I resented myself. After all, so many women did this whole motherhood thing so well, so why can’t I? The standard I had for the kind of mom I felt I needed to be was so high, in fact, it was unreachable. I was always failing my own test.
What I really needed was to give myself a little grace and show myself some kindness.
All too often, we’re so quick not to give ourselves grace. When we do something wrong or don’t hit the mark, the self-criticism begins:
“I should know better by now…I can’t believe I’m here again… What’s wrong with me…”
Nothing is wrong with you; you’re just learning and growing. Yet the majority of us immediately start to compare ourselves to others and everything they have accomplished and everything that we have not.
Where does any of it get us?
Stressed. Anxious. Dejected. Angry. Depressed.
All negative emotions directed towards us, by us.
We need to learn how to pick ourselves up, not pick ourselves apart.
WHAT DOES “GIVING YOURSELF GRACE” MEAN?
Whether you’re in a season of change, personal growth, or navigating something new, you’ll need some extra grace for yourself.
Try to think of “grace” as undeserved kindness. By giving yourself grace, you are showing kindness to yourself, much like how you would show kindness to a child learning a new skill.
Giving yourself grace is a way of approaching yourself with the same gentleness and compassion.
Giving yourself grace is allowing you to be both in the process and to be a process.
LEARNING TO WALK
The spoiler alert at the beginning of the post reminds us that when Littles are learning to walk for the first time, they fall…a lot.
As doting parents (especially first-time-parents), we don’t belittle or ridicule their efforts. We don’t tell them they should know better. We know they’re new to this and it’s a process.
We give them grace and encourage them to keep trying.
To try a new approach.
To take another step.
We are patient. We are kind. We are loving as we have grace for them in the newness.
We tell them it’s okay. It takes time. They’ll get the hang of it.
We need to start telling ourselves the same things as we navigate the uncharted waters of life and learn something new.
We are learning.
We are growing.
We need a lot more grace and a lot less guilt and condemnation, especially from ourselves.
LEARNING TO GIVE OURSELVES GRACE
We could always use more kindness in the world. We don’t just need to reserve our kindness and love for others and others alone. We’ve got to start showing it to ourselves too.
Giving ourselves grace doesn’t mean we give ourselves excuses. It means we are willing to love ourselves enough to recognize it’s okay to still be figuring it out and that it’s okay to not have all the answers.
When we give ourselves grace, we invite ourselves to continue not only to grow but to flourish.
In many ways, we too are still learning how to walk.
Friend, have grace for yourself along this journey. You will always be learning, and growing, and stretching, and becoming. You are a process. We all are.
It’s okay to be a work in progress.
WHAT GIVING YOURSELF GRACE LOOKS LIKE
Here are a few ways to extend a little grace to yourself today:
- Tell yourself it’s okay if and when you miss the mark. You are human. At some point, you will fall short. Just like a toddler learning to walk, you are learning all the time which means there will always be a chance of failure. It’s what you do next that matters.
- Remind yourself that many things take time, especially when you’re learning something new or trying something for the first time. It took the good Lord months to knit you in the womb. Don’t expect to be a raving success overnight. Succeeding, reaching goals, healing, promoting, advancing, learning, whatever this season of newness includes, it’s okay if it takes time (it usually does).
- Try not to rush out of feeling your feelings. Dismissing our feelings is often a learned behavior or survival tactic. We are not encouraged to take the time to actually feel our feelings or process our emotions. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” We wipe the tears away, move on, and chase productivity. The reality is that if we paid more attention and actually felt our feelings as we experienced them, and gave ourselves the grace and space to do so, the emotions and experiences would be that much more productive and serve us better.
- Recognize that you are a (beautiful) work in progress and that’s okay.
What new season are you walking in today? What are you learning?
Are you a new mama? Give yourself grace. You are doing an awesome job. Go ahead and eat that cookie in the hall alone. You don’t always have to share.
Did you start classes or begin a new job? Give yourself some grace. There is always a learning curve.
Are you navigating through a tough season? Give yourself grace. You are going to make it and you’ll recognize just how strong you really are when you do.
Are you trying to figure out who the heck you are? Give yourself grace. Learning about yourself is powerful.
Whatever it is, give yourself some grace. It’s okay to not have all the answers and it’s completely okay to not be perfect.
Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself as you would a friend. You’re still learning how to walk in your own ways.
I’m cheering you on from here, friend! Keep going.