This past week in our small group we got to talking about how we need to extend a bit more grace to ourselves. One of the men in the group had dropped a plastic water jug on his tile floor. The jug broke . . .and so did his self-control. I’m guessing you know the words: “How could anyone be so clumsy? Why couldn’t I be more careful? What’s wrong with me? Stupid!”
We talked about ways to be kinder to ourselves in those klutzy life moments we all have. Someone suggested starting the day by acknowledging that at some point in the next 24 hours I’m going to do something less than graceful. “Lord, I’m going to mess up today. Help me respond with patience. Help me look for opportunities to learn from my mistakes.”
I listened, and offered a few points of supreme wisdom. And then today happened. We’re getting ready for a trip to Florida. I can’t wait to shed the jackets and mittens and relax on the beach in a (GASP!) swimsuit. (Insert grimacing emoji.) I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m turning 65 this year and when six-and-a-half decades of gravity meet a winter without sun and a few too many chips, the LAST thing I want to do is slip into something that covers only enough to be modest. But try on suits I did. And when a hand-me-up from my daughter-in-law needed the straps shortened about an inch, I dusted off the sewing kit and set to work. A quick job . . . until I finished the first strap and realized it was twisted!! Sewn on wrong. Grrrrrr! First word out of my head and onto my tongue? “STUPID!”
Deep breath. Snip a few threads. Do it over. And consciously think as I’m doing it: “How could I have handled this differently?” Maybe I could have attempted a laugh. Hey, we’re all human. This is nothing critical. Not moral failure here, just a bit of carelessness. And then I tuned in to the song that had been playing in the back of my mind the whole time: “Lord, I Need You.” I had to laugh. Perfect lyrics. A rough paraphrase would go something like: Lord, if I don’t have you, I fall apart. Where sin is great, your grace is greater. Teach me to turn to you when I’m tempted. Perfect words for the times we’re tempted by big, bad sin. But also needed when water spills, we look far less than a 10 in a swimsuit, or we sew a strap on wrong–when we need to delete “Stupid” from our vocabulary.
I learned something in that moment about giving myself grace, admitting I need to turn to God when I’m tempted to be down on myself. I remembered the lesson when I emptied the laundry room wastebasket into a trash bag and half the linty contents missed the bag. I gave myself a pass. And then . . . the entire open, over-full trash bag toppled onto its side in the middle of the hallway. First word out of my head and onto my tongue? Yeah, you guessed it.
I’m a grace-work in progress. How about you?