A sweet friend messaged me on Facebook not too long ago to tell me she was reading a book that reminded her of me. She’d been reading my blog and sending me encouraging notes on my posts, and decided she wanted to gift me this book. This book couldn’t have come into my life at a better time.
The book is called “Grace Not Perfection.” I love that this author, Emily Ley, and I think a lot alike. We want loved children, encouraged husbands, empowering friendships, and successful careers. But we also crave and demand order, organization, and dare I say it….perfection. Perfect manners, perfect marriages, perfect houses, perfect friends, and perfect little plaques that say “Great Job” from our perfect places of work.
Before reading this book I had learned that I cannot be perfect, only exhausted from trying. I’d already learned I have to give myself grace when I don’t get the dishes and the laundry done, when my toddler is still not potty trained, when I have to cancel plans with friends, when I have to leave an activity I love, and when I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything at work. I finally had realized that giving myself grace opens up my heart to see the joy in the imperfections of my life. So I nodded along with Emily Ley’s advice to exhausted women trying to uphold the standards of the world. Their shoulders breaking under the weight of today’s demands, and the sleepless nights as their minds already try to check off tomorrow’s to-do list. Put the laundry basket down, examine your schedule, cut out the busy, find the routine that works for where you are in life, and most importantly give yourself grace. Give yourself grace and put off the house work until tomorrow, chase your kids around the house, go on a date with your husband, meet a girlfriend for coffee, read a book that feeds your soul, get off of Pinterest, get off of Instagram, get off of Facebook, and find the grace in who you are because you’re going to exhaust yourself looking for grace in who the world tells you to be.
Praise Jesus I’ve been in all those dark corners and was ready to help encourage other women to step into the light with me. Then I thought, should I read on? I’ve been there, I’ve learned this stuff, maybe I should just pass on this book to someone who might need it right now. I’m glad I kept reading.
I started part 2 of Emily Ley’s book. Part 2 was about giving others grace, and I’m not so good at that.
The very week I was reading this book, I went to pick up lunch for the guys at work. One of the guys had called the order in while I was working at our other business, and I was to pick it up on my way back. I gave the lady at the counter my name and she snapped at me that “it had just been called in and they hadn’t even started it, you’ll just have to wait.” Smiles were not free that day, and I had the furthest thing from grace for this lady. I got back in my car, called my husband, and told him what happened. “Wasn’t that rude?” I said. And he answered so perfectly. He told me to tell her that I hope her day gets better. Maybe a previous customer yelled at her when their order wasn’t ready on arrival, maybe her mom was sick, maybe her son got in a fight at school, maybe her husband lost his job, maybe she was just having a bad day. So what she needed at that moment was just some grace.
Giving grace is hard sometimes. I should have been quick to offer grace in that moment, but I wasn’t. It’s even harder to give grace to those we love; those we place at higher standards. We don’t like to offer up grace when someone hurts us, fails us, or snaps at us. We want to shut them out, fight back, and put them down. I’m guilty of setting such high standards for myself, that when other people can’t accomplish a task I’ve set for them, I get upset. There’s no grace in that. I’m guilty of over thinking everything I say, and end up being hurt when someone says something to me before thinking about how I could take it. Didn’t they know that would hurt my feelings? There’s no grace in that. Only self. Only me.
See, grace is Jesus. We have got to get over ourselves, and just give people Jesus. Isn’t that what He did for us? Died for us on a cross, placing grace over our sins, before we were even imagined.
I’m reminded of the story of Jonah. God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh to tell the people about Jesus. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh. Their sins were too heavy. They didn’t deserve grace. Silly Jonah. It took a big storm and a big fish to finally get Jonah to Nineveh. Once in Nineveh, Jonah preached God’s word, the people believed and were forgiven of their sins. Bu Jonah still did not have grace for these people. He was still angry with them. God then taught Jonah a lesson. Jonah went out of the city basically to pout and stew and wish evil on the people of Nineveh. As he was sitting outside of the city, God sent a gourd to grow to shade Jonah’s head and give him joy. But then God sent a worm to kill the gourd, and Jonah mourned its death. God then spoke to Jonah. “Why were you mourning the death of something you did not bring to life? You did not help it to grow.” God showed Jonah that we are not authorized to decide who deserves grace and who doesn’t. God showed Jonah that grace is a gift from God that we are called to give to others because it was already given to us.
So if giving grace to others is hard for you, remember the grace that’s been given to you. Grace is not yours to withhold from others, but is only meant to be given, whether you think it’s deserved or not.