I don't like to make New Years Resolutions, but over the past few years I have had a pretty clear message from God about what character virtue He wants to grow in me and this year it is grace - grace for others, but more than that, grace for myself.
I grew up feeling like I had to be perfect to be loved. Love was very conditional in my home. I felt like everything I did was wrong. I wasn't allowed the grace to make mistakes and certainly wasn't shown mercy when I messed up.
This carried over into my adult life where I left I had to be perfect for my husband to love me. To wound me deeper, once that perfect shell started to crack, he left me and our kids. I felt like I would never myself again. I hated who I was because if I wasn't good enough for my husband, who would I ever be good enough for?
With counseling I learned to love myself again, and drawing near to God, I learned His unconditional love. I knew He made me in His perfect image. That He loved me as I was and I loved me as I was...but I still felt that it wouldn't I wasn't good enough for anyone else. You see, God loved me because I am His child. I accept me and love me because I know God does, but I'm flawed. I lose my temper with my kids. I go long periods of time without picking up my bible or go to church (that's another blog topic), I'm overweight again, I have dark circles under my eyes, I leave my dishes for days sometimes and I leave half-full water bottles everywhere while we are experiencing a drought. Who, outside of God and myself, is going to love that?
Someone will one day. God told me that.
He also told me that I need to give myself grace. If I don't need to be perfect for Him, I certainly don't need to be perfect for anyone else. I am wonderfully made by Him and I need to give myself grace to make mistakes and know that I didn't fail. Know that I am worthy of being loved - flaws and all. At work. At home. At church. With friends.
He also reminded me that people aren't out to get me when they mess up. Others make mistakes. Others don't meet my expectations. Others make my life harder - but not on purpose. They're human, flawed - and wonderfully made by God too!
I used to be one who gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. I though people had good intentions, and if they didn't, I was kind-hearted enough to forgive, but I always thought the best of people first.
This is the year I go back to being that person. The years I give grace to people - even my ex-husband - and myself. Give people the freedom to make mistakes without fear of ruining a friendship, getting yelled at or feeling like a failure themselves.
"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
I want my heart to overflow with His Love and Grace!