“You have to learn to give yourself grace.”
The white noise of the coffee shop surrounded us and I sat there, uncomfortable with the thought of that. Of Grace. Of giving it to myself. She just stared at me, so sure of that advice, like to came from the marrow of her bones– giving grace is the thing she’s made of. So why couldn’t I be made of it too?
I looked away from her. I couldn’t bear to stare into the truth of that statement. But for good measure she repeated it: “you have to. You have to give yourself grace.”
This summer I struggled more with anxiety/depression than I have before. I worked at a summer camp and I was surrounded by more people like her, people who dish out grace to themselves and others like it’s candy. Like it’s the thing that they’re made of.
I struggled with comparison a lot more too. I was constantly looking at my co-counselors and beating myself up because I wasn’t them. I wasn’t the counselor who thought to start the game at Flex Time. I didn’t have an amazing one-on-one today. I didn’t get to speak the gospel to someone.
And I let that eat me up inside. I started to doubt that I was there for a reason, started to doubt the power of the Lord, and His love if I’m being honest. I was so focused on how I wasn’t measuring up that I forgot to look at how He has already measured up for me, how He loves me because He wants to, not because of the things that I’ve done or have done or will do. So I struggled. I had anxiety attacks and sob fests and broke so many times I am honestly shocked that I was still standing at the end of the summer. And I think it all goes back to my friend Comparison.
Comparison, as I was told, is the killer of joy.
Joy is a tough topic for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t actually recall a time when I can remember feeling full of joy. Or maybe it’s because I don’t want to feel joy.
That’s something hard for me to admit, but I learned this summer that admitting things is a real step in the direction of His heart. Because if I can say it to myself, then I can say it to Him. If I can be real with myself for just a minute, then I can be real with Him too. This life is just a series of moments where we choose to be real. And raw. And present.
It took me all summer to get the weeds uprooted from my heart.
There was a speaker at this camp who talked about pulling up weeds and then having them growing up because he wasn’t grabbing them from the root. I think life is a lot like that. We all have these lies that grow like weeds in our hearts and we need to uproot them.
So I narrowed it down to two weeds: 1) I don’t deserve love & 2) I don’t deserve grace.
I know that those are two hard things to move past, but I desperately want to and I know that with God all things are possible. I finally broke into the arms of my camp mom and sobbed for a good 30 minutes about how I want to love myself. About how I want to see myself in the ways that God sees me. I finally took that first step.
And I think that’s a step towards grace. I think I’m spoon-feeding myself grace daily, slowly becoming okay with the fact that I may not be okay. And that is fine. People need time and we need love and we need grace.
I may have taken a long time to get here, but 20 years is a long time to waste being enemies with the person looking back at me in the mirror.
From here on out, I’m pursuing hope, love, and grace. I’m pursuing a life that is flooded with faith and with being who I was created to be. So much so that God is all people see when they look at me.
“you have to learn to give yourself grace.”
and then you have to learn how to live with it reflecting out in all you do.