Wednesday, January 10, 2018

HAVING GRACE



There is not one thing you can tell me about myself that I don't already know or have already thought. I was born with a critical heart. No, not in the sense that my heart was in critical condition by medical standards. Okay, it totally was, but that's besides the point. I was born with a critical heart in the sense that I have birthed disapproving comments onto myself as far back as I can remember. Have I had help along the way by the conditioning of society? Absolutely. But I have learned that we have the power, not choice, the POWER, to change all of that piled up self-demeaning critics by one word: GRACE.

It has taken me nearly 28 years to understand this. I have read 1 Corinthians 15:10 many times in my life and I've tried to dissect it's words. "But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."  Now if we dig into the old testament word, we will find that when the word grace is used, it means: Favour, Forgiveness, Repentance, and in some context, Salvation. We learn about God's Grace throughout the bible: Through Joseph's Story and his strength to persevere regardless of his brothers actions, Moses' stubborn ways turned to following the path God was leading him on, and well just about every time the Israelites turned away from God. He had Grace. He forgave them, he patiently allowed them redeem themselves, and he walked with them even when the sand shifted below their feet. If that isn't Grace, I don't know what is.

So how can we practice having Grace with ourselves? This is a question I have consistently had for myself. It made more sense once I was introduced to the book "Grace not Perfection" by Author Emily Ley. It's an amazing book written by a mother of 3 who is also a small business owner. She talks about how much pressure we as women we put on ourselves. Of course this is directed to everyone, but she speaks from a place as a working woman/mother. The book goes on to discuss the things like learning to be more kind to ourselves, making sure we are taking care of ourselves so we can take care of others, having a plan to reduce stress, allowing things to happen and let go of control. etc. -- She has some amazing tips and tricks to succeed if I don't say so myself. It's definitely helped me open my eyes more and allowed me to focus on having more grace for myself. 

I'm not sure who made up this rule that we had to have our lives figure out by a certain age. We've been told to have it all together by getting married, starting a family, having a full time job, buying a house, and constantly be doing something worthy enough to be seen as successful. This rule is outdated. This rule sets us up for failure and we all know that failing is the first step to feeling self defeat and the feeling that we ourselves are failures. This is where grace comes in handy. There are many times in my life where I have felt like a complete failure and because I'm human, I still have those days. But that's the thing with self doubt and ineptness, it doesn't ever leave. We just learn to overcome it. We learn to do better and think better. We have learn to have Grace and that is something we should constantly be working on. So how do we do that?

1. Be Kinder to Yourself. Whenever you find yourself preparing for battle against your thoughts, take a step back. Remember that saying, " a bad day doesn't mean it's a bad life," - I think of that as a way to remember to be kind to myself. Life Happens, I fall short, I make mistakes, but at the end of the day..I am Enough. And so are you. It's a hard lesson to learn, but you're doing your best here..so allow yourself to remember that. You are in a constant state of learning, so be kind to yourself when you stumble.

2. Check in With Yourself. For whatever reason people are so robotic when they receive the question "How are you?" and the answer is always the same "Good." or "Fine." - But that's not actually how you are, is it? I wish people gave a real answer and I wish others didn't feel uncomfortable hearing a real answer. So why don't we check in with ourselves every now and then? Ask ourselves how we are doing. Truly. I'll be honest with you, sometimes this conversation with myself is really shitty. It's a hard conversation sometimes. I cringe and my anxiety begins to race. But I think it's important to ask myself "Hey Ashlee, How are You Doing? Like, really doing?" because atleast I will know how to navigate the rest of my day, or week. and with that I can better understand how to have Grace with myself. 

3. Know Your TRUTH and don't hide behind it. When you know your truth, as in, who you are, what you're about, what inspires you, what direction you're heading in etc. you allow yourself to have the power of making your own self worth. (which is my next one) But when you know your truth, it ends up being difficult for others to define who they think you are. So own who you are and don't hide behind it. Who cares what others think. At the end of the day, you are the one that lives with you and you know your heart and your intentions. 

4. Know Your Worth. This is a pill that most of us cannot swallow due to social conditioning. Without even actually saying it, we've been told in different ways we aren't worthy, we aren't good enough. Maybe you've been flat out told "You are not enough." And in that case this step is crucial for you. Know Your Worth. I've learned that to have Grace with myself that I needed to dig deep into knowing my worth. This was a hole that I had to dig and claw my way out of, as I'm sure most of us have had to do. I was 14 the first time I was told I wasn't worthy. This is a story I have shared before. And it's been conditioned in my mind since and burned into my every day life each time I have heard it after. But I had to learn something important - I am Worthy. Wanna Know how I know that? Because I know who I am, I was Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. 

5. Declutter but Allow the Mess. Yes, I know it's counterproductive but it works. Sometimes I'm a mess, Sometimes my house is a mess and well, sometimes my life is a mess. But that's totally ok. I HATE clutter. Just ask my SR. I can't even stand when our dogs toys aren't laying neat by his bed. I can't stand when there is too much furniture and decor from wall to wall, and I can't stand when things are piled up. So this is a hard lesson for me to follow but it's all about Grace. I find my anxiety is less when I have decluttered my space and allowed room. So throw out the stuff you don't need, haven't used in longer than 3 months, and toss the junk you forgot you even had. We just did this to our garage, it was awesome. But also remember that you are human and life happens. Chances are you have kids, you are working and/or going to school, and constantly busy. So Mess will happen. Let it. You're doing your best here but you don't need to be superwoman/superman. 

6. Make time for yourself. I get that you have kids or in my instance  you have a crazy dog to care for. I understand you have no time for a social life between work, soccer practice, and laundry. But you need to pause and breathe for a moment. Schedule it in like you would piano lessons. Take a 5 minute extra shower, Take a bath once a week, get your hair done, or curl up and watch your shows that have been saved on your DVR for the last 2 months. Drink some Tea before bed & read a book. Do something! How can you take care of other people if you aren't taking care of yourself first? You can't fill someone else glass if your glass is half-empty...or something like that. You must take care of yourself first.

7. Stop trying to do it all! You can't be everything for everyone. Read Above! You can't do it all and you should't have too. The life people portray on Instagram is not their real life. That instagram mom with the neat, color coded, and tidy house, the housewife that is always cooking amazing meals for her husband and baking cupcakes for guests, that lady boss who is always in cute heels, a blazer, carrying a clutch and coffee with a smile on her face. It's not a thing. and I've had to learn that. That's a modified picture that took preparation. Chances are, that instagram model rolled out of bed late just like you, spilled that coffee on her 1st shirt of choice while running out the door and trying to put mascara on while backing out of her drive way so she could drop the screaming kids off at school and get to work on time.



Accept yourself for who you are, Honor where you are in life at that moment, Praise when you've got it right, and have compassion for when you've had it wrong. That's the beauty of having Grace with yourself...It's always accepting, compassionate, and forgiving. You don't need to have it all together  24/7, 365 days a week. You just need to remind yourself that tomorrow is only a day away (you're singing that song from annie aren't you? Same!), and with each new day comes a new wave of Grace from God, from your inner most being, and from each day following. Living your best life doesn't have to be a race. Finding your version of perfection doesn't need to happen over night. Rome wasn't built in a day. So go slow, breathe, and go easier on yourself. And if you can't, I'll be here to help you through it. 


Happy Wednesday My Lovelies. Have Grace. Love Yourself. 

Love without Expecting, Love without Fear..Love, Love, Love!


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