If you’re like me, you tend to give way more grace to your friends and loved ones, than to yourself.
Earlier this week, I was talking to a young mama about life. She was talking about chasing after her little ones and trying (and failing) to keep up with ‘it all,’ with a hopeless wave of her wrist. She shared all the areas that she had supposedly failed recently and how she had been wearing the same pair of yoga pants for five straight days, (even sheepishly confessing they were becoming her pajamas on occasion) and not once had she actually taken the time to work out, in said yoga pants. Then she lamented her dirty house, dishes in the sink and the fact that she was exhausted trying to find space to fit in time with Jesus. She looked into my understanding eyes and then quietly said, ‘… well maybe I’m being a bit too hard on myself?’ After I had set her straight that yes indeed she was being way too hard on her sweet little self and left, I thought more about our conversation.
It occurred to me how many times I have also been there with that same hopeless wave of my wrist, as I looked around at all of my perceived failures, trying to keep up with ‘it all’ and well… not. I’ve been a mother for nearly 13 years now and I still have similar moments that this sweet, young mom was having. I’m in a different stage of life than she is in, but I still respond the same way when I think I’m failing and making a mess of it all. Then something hits me, the gentle voice of the Savior, speaking words of calm into my heart. When I looked back over the years, I distinctly remember showing up for events or play dates or visits, at various beloved friends’ houses. As I’d walk in, I could count endless conversations that began with these friends saying, ‘… sorry about the mess… we were up all night with the baby….’ or ‘… I meant to get things picked up before you came but it’s been a tough morning…’ etc.
And what do you think my response always was?
Probably something along the lines of, ‘That’s it. I’m outta here.’ or ‘Well I believe this disqualifies you from being my friend now.’ or what about, ‘Well you’re just no good. You’re a bad mother, woman and a general failure in life.’
Of course not! I would never even think those things, let alone say such hurtful things. I love my girl friends and consider my life richer for knowing them, imperfections and all. I didn’t care about all those things they were apologizing for because what mattered to me was them! But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to berating my own heart with similar negative sentiments every time I felt like I’d failed in some capacity! I don’t understand why we can be gentle and gracious to someone we love yet forget to extend that same level of grace to ourselves in similar moments- it’ not productive. We wouldn’t dream of telling someone that they were a failure, so we shouldn’t be feeding that line to ourselves either. (Not to say that there isn’t a place for self improvement when it’s needed, of course.) None of us are perfect and there isn’t one woman who’s got it all together…. so today I want to encourage you that if you’ve been feeling a bit ‘less than’ in some area of life, your assignment today is to try and talk to yourself as nicely as you would talk to your best girlfriend if she confessed those failings to you. Try it and just see if it doesn’t lift your spirits a bit.
‘Be nice to yourself! It’s hard to be happy when someone is mean to you all the time.’ (-Christine Arylo)