This week I did something that I haven’t done in a very long time: I forgot to send our birthmother a quarterly email and pictures. From the beginning, we have had an understanding that we would send updates on the 1st of every third month. We take lots of care to send her updates that are like a snapshot into our son’s life. We also express love and gratitude in each email. Her heart is why we are blessed to have our son; we don’t take that lightly. I didn’t even realize that I had forgotten until she emailed us to make sure things were okay. When I saw her email, I began beating myself up.
I immediately constructed an email, explaining that part of the reason I may have forgotten was: my family had suffered a significant loss this week. When your heart is hurting, it is hard to remember things. I shared with a friend and my sister in law/friend what I had done, and both encouraged me “to extend grace to myself”. In fact, my sister in law put it into perspective with some levity: “Heather, it was late by one day LOL!”
(To clarify, to extend grace means to give what they need, not what they deserve.)
I feel women are especially hard on themselves. (Maybe I’m being stereotypical, but I don’t think so.) What about all of those “mom guilt” Facebook posts. Ladies, how many times have you compared yourself, your home, etc. to another’s?
“I was the perfect mom until I had kids” video by Kristina Kuzmic
So, what is “The Case for Grace”? Why should we learn to extend grace to ourselves and others?…
- If you are a believer in Christ, you know that He has extended grace and forgiveness to you.
“For by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
“But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Since Christ has extended grace and forgiveness to us, what right do we have to withhold it from ourselves and others?
- The absence of grace (and the presence of comparison, criticism, and unforgiveness) robs us of our joy.
There is a debate about the difference between joy and happiness. Some believe that happiness is based upon your circumstances, while joy is based upon a sense of contentment in life despite your circumstances. Others argue that the terms are interchangeable. Call it what you want, happiness/joy/contentment, shouldn’t that be a goal for us this year?
Currently I’m “reading” (listening to on Audible) Candace Payne’s Laugh It Up: Embrace Freedom, Experience Defiant Joy. Viewers of her Chewbacca Mom viral video could never have guessed what her life was like-the lady behind the mask. In her book, she describes her many life challenges, and strategies that she applies to live a life of defiant joy. I love her heart, and have learned a lot from her. I highly recommend it!
- When we don’t extend grace, we are keeping ourselves from the abundant life we were created to live.
*If you are constantly hard on yourself, you will feel that you aren’t worthy of all the wonderful things this life has to offer: beautiful relationships, special situations, and ultimately your life purpose.
*Our souls crave fulfillment and purpose; how else can you explain sales of the Purpose Driven Life? When it was first published in 2002 to 2007, it had sold over 30 million copies! Who knows how many more copies have been sold the past 10 years!?
- Regret is a jagged pill to swallow.
When we speak too harshly, judge, withdraw (in other words, don’t extend grace), we damage our relationships. Sometimes permanently-especially as time passes. I know because I’ve been there, and have done that. Now I’m faced with the ultimate consequence: regret. Regret pulls at your heart strings. It makes you evaluate and re-evaluate. And like an extra long alter call, it forces you to think, “should I take action?”
Friends, if your heart is whispering that question, don’t sit on it. Don’t put it off. Do what you need to do-while you can!
I’m dealing with some serious regret right now, and I’ve lost my opportunity. All I can do is pray for peace, move forward, extend grace to myself, and embrace an attitude of grace towards others.
I hope that I’ve made a “Case for Grace.” I strongly feel that it has to start with first extending grace to ourselves, and then to others. Shake off: unreasonable expectations; criticism; unforgiveness; bitterness; and comparison. Embrace an attitude of grace and watch a beautiful transformation happen in your life. I’m trying to apply that renovation plan this new year. Will you?