Oceans Deep

Finding & Following Jesus in the Deep End of Life

The Hardest Grace to Give

Hi readers! The following post is one that I wrote and submitted for guest publication last month with (in)courage, a fantastic online community. If you’re not familiar with their website, I suggest you go here and check it out!

Unfortunately, my piece was not selected for publication (sad face), but this means I get to share it with you (happy face!). I hope it ministers to and encourages you today.


Isn’t spring the most glorious season? After the darkness of winter, I’m thrilled to gaze outside at the hills behind my house: once brown with exhaustion, they’re now verdant and bursting with life. Regal pear trees show off bulbous, white blossoms, and the mesmerizing song of the red-winged black bird plays in the background once again. Everywhere, the signs of new life abound.

I’m also carrying around a heightened sense of new life in my own body, in the form of my third pregnancy. Even if the hills and the trees didn’t remind me, my ever-growing tummy does–a gracious gift from the Father.

But when I look around, I can’t help but see other places that could also use new life, as I confront the ways in which I feel I’m failing:

The house is not clean enough.

My to do list is overflowing.

I’m not doing enough in the way of crafts and entertainment for my children.

I’m pretty sure my family thinks I’ve lost the ability to fix anything other than PB&J for lunch and chicken for dinner.

This mental checklist goes on and on until I look up and realize I’ve traded the language of gratitude for a critical spirit that’s laser-focused on all my shortcomings. In the midst of this spiral, I’m struck with the realization that sometimes, the hardest grace to give is that which we extend to ourselves.

I see the mom at the store whose child is throwing a tantrum, and my heart immediately goes out to her. I can visit a friend’s home for a play date and not blink twice at the piles of dishes in her sink or the toys strewn from room to room. I can even extend grace to the grocery store clerk who thinks I must be due “any day now” when I still have weeks to go … she’s just trying to make conversation.

So why is it that I’m entirely unable to extend such grace to myself in these same situations?

In my wondering, God led me to a short but powerful verse from the New Testament:

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6 ESV).

This verse leapt off the page and into my heart. I had to face the uncomfortable possibility that perhaps this scripture is the key to showing grace to ourselves … maybe, just maybe, I am harboring hidden pride in my heart?

Perhaps I am unable to show myself grace when my child throws a tantrum, because deep down I believe that I shouldn’t have a child who throws a tantrum.

And perhaps I am unable to show myself grace when the dishes pile up in my sink, because deep down I believe that I should be able to get it all done, even when others can’t.

The unfortunate truth is, pride has an insidious way of sneaking in and disguising itself as something noble, desirable even. Sometimes we wear our “I’m so hard on myself” or “I’m just a perfectionist” attitude as a badge of honor. But I think we would all benefit from asking ourselves a hard question: is my own pride preventing God’s free and amazing grace from flowing in and through my life?

What about you? Do you ever find it difficult to extend grace to yourself? Perhaps the remnants of covert pride are lurking in your heart, skewing your view of yourself and preventing you from experiencing the joy of God’s grace in your life.

It’s a scary question to ask, but don’t be afraid to dig in and uncover that pride. Banish it to the four winds and allow God to lead you forward, extending peace and gentleness to yourself. What could feel better than taking a deep breath and granting grace to your own weary soul?

As for me, I’ll be here putting my feet up for a bit, focusing on enjoying every minute of this pregnancy and ignoring my to do list for a little while longer.

 

6 Comments

  1. Well said! Grace is such a beautiful word.

    • Sylvia McMillin

      March 30, 2016 at 1:51 AM

      Meredith, I struggle with all the same things you have written about! I need to give myself and also others grace…sometimes I don’t even do that! Great words!

      • Thank you, Sylvia! So glad to hear this resonated with you–such a universal struggle, I feel like especially for women. We’re so hard on ourselves! Blessings on your week, thanks so much for reading and commenting!

    • Thank you!! It is beautiful indeed–so thankful for God’s design and gift of grace!

  2. Hi Meredith, glad I found you through COMPEL!

    I really enjoyed this post – it’s so true! We are always hardest on ourselves. Thank you for your words and encouragement here!

    • Hey Chelsey! I too am so glad we connected through COMPEL! Thanks for reading and for your kind comment! Looking forward to getting to know you better through your writing :-).

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