Before you dive into reading this post let me share something with you. Typically when I write a post I won’t publish it right away. I’ll save it and then agonize about it for a while wondering if it’s good enough and worrying that I may have misspelled words or forgot commas. In keeping with the theme of this post, I’m not going to do that. I typed my thoughts out here pretty quickly and I’m going to go ahead and hit the publish button. You’ll understand what I mean after you read it. Here’s to grace!
A couple weeks back was picture day for our homeschool co-op. Way in advance I signed up for the best time slot for us, bought E’s outfit, decided how I would do her hair and the night before I had every thing all ready and chores done in plenty of time to head out the door. I was feeling pretty good about having it all together!
Right before loading up on time with even an allotted amount of extra time still available I opened up my email to see the address of where we were going. The e-mail had been deleted and I couldn’t find it. I called every one I knew in the co-op. No one answered. I couldn’t get on the co-ops website because I lost the e-mail with the password on it. I started to panic. I immediately was so angry at myself. I told myself that I had ruined the morning and that I was a horrible mother and that now my child wouldn’t be in the year book because I would be late and miss the time slot I had signed up for. I started driving to a church I thought it might be at when I got a call from my husband that he had found the deleted email. Except it didn’t make me any happier because I was on the other side of town and would miss my 5 minute time slop by 5 minutes. I speed there any ways and rushed in. When I went in another child was getting their photo taken. “it’s too late.” I thought defeated. I was totally surprised when the photographer said she would get Ella next and even more surprised when I observed that the other moms were trickling in late and none of them seemed stressed about it. No one cared.
When I got home I apologized to my husband for being short on the phone and explained I was really upset thinking that E would not get her photo in the yearbook. “I’m sure they would have got you in even if you were later than you were.” he said. It took me by surprise because it was a thought that had never crossed my mind. In that moment I had this little perspective shift of how I give grace to every one around me but never to myself. I would never not take a child’s photo because they were late but it never occurred to me that someone would extend that same grace to me. I thought about all the negative things I told myself that morning and how I would never ever treat someone else like that or hold them to the same standards. “Maybe I should be nice to myself I thought.” It was kind of a revolutionary thought for me- something I hadn’t thought of before. I thought to myself “Maybe I should try and give myself the same grace and kindness I give to other people- maybe I would be happier.”
This morning I got to put that little lesson into practical action.
Last night I learned that my husband was going to get today off from work. Woohoo! Three day weekend! I usually always get up between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m without exceptions but last night I decided to set the timer for 6:30 instead and let myself sleep in some on a day when we didn’t have much that needed done or any where to be.
After breakfast in my pajamas (which is a weird experience for me since I usually dress before the kids get up) I began to get ready for the day. My eye caught my calendar and saw that I had written down the details for a field trip at the discovery museum an hour and a half away with our homeschool group. I ignored it and reminded myself that it was 8:00- we didn’t have enough time to get ready and beside that I had just brought the kids swimming yesterday with E’s homeschool outdoors kids club.
I started to clean the bathroom but the nagging thought wouldn’t go away- I knew my husband would really want to go if he knew about it. I took a deep breath and told myself that his happiness and the fun our kids would have was more important than my desire to get stuff done.
I hesitantly ran it by my husband who immediately said, “Yes!” he wanted to go. I had to quickly prioritize what I was going to do because we needed to get out the house FAST if we were going to make it. Make-up? no time. Change E’s ratty looking shirt and do a cute hairstyle? no time. Pack a lunch? no time, there goes my diet plan. I was doing alright until I couldn’t find the hairbrush and then the negative thoughts came into my head, “Why did you sleep into 6:30!? You CANNOT ever sleep in because this is what happens- I can’t believe I..” And then I remembered that word GRACE and I stopped myself from thinking those thoughts. I reminded myself that I wanted to think to myself what I would tell to others. So as I shoved snacks for the kids in the backpack and quickly pulled together what we would need I responded to my previous thoughts with new ones, “It’s okay that you slept in until 6:30 on your day off. Lots of people do that, most sleep in later than 6:30. You’re a good mom for getting up before your kids so you can be ready to serve them no matter what. Besides, you didn’t know you were taking this trip today.”
On the way to the museum there was a few times I looked at the clock and inwardly began to stress about being late. I HATE being late. Even as a child I was very concerned about punctuality- have been my whole life. There was no way we would not be late and I had to tell myself it was okay. No one was depending on me- I wasn’t letting anybody down. Instead of groaning about being late I talked to my dad on the phone and got to hear what’s been going on in his life. I read my husband an article I’d been wanting to read him and we discussed it. It was a nice time.
When we got there late you know what happened? Every one in our group was still standing around giving extra time to anyone who might be late. No one knew we were going to come so no one was waiting for us in particular. I thought about the word grace and was thankful that it was being extended to anybody who might be running late. I was glad I had enjoyed the ride up and didn’t stress about it because in the end it didn’t matter.
I had one last test of my perfectionism- I had to make new friends with no make-up on and my hair a mess. To make matters worse I didn’t have time to pick up my new contacts that I needed so I couldn’t see very well. I was squinting to see people’s faces. I wanted to just stay quiet and hide my disheveled self but I gently reminded myself that being friendly was more important than people thinking I had it all together. I walked up to a woman, my eyes squinting, and held out my hand introducing myself. I found out our husbands know each other and our daughters have the same name. I’m glad I meet her and I’m looking forward to visiting with her again in the future.
I’m sharing a lot of lengthy personal thoughts to make these points- when we let go of perfectionism, when we show ourselves kindness and when we replace negative thoughts with positive one’s, great things can happen! Grace. It’s a good word.
Challenge: next time you begin to mentally beat yourself up, replace your thoughts with kind one’s. Choose to talk to yourself as kindly as you would someone you love.