One of the challenging parts of all of our lives is juggling the varying demands that family, careers, church, and volunteer activities place on us. It is indeed true that sometimes all of these different aspects of our lives become a little too much, and there are times when we simply want to throw our hands in the air and give up. The problem is, our desire is to always get everything right - make the right decisions, pick the right clothes, purchase the right food, manage the right use of time on games, and a host of others. But realistically, can you get everything right? Is it even possible?
At our last Vestry Meeting, Andrea Leeman led the devotions. Her theme was Give yourself some grace. She shared thoughts that will resonate with every parent and, in fact, with all of us. The core of her reflection is about our desire to get it right all the time. Giving yourself some grace would mean acknowledging that there are struggles, challenges, hurts, and disappointments involved in every endeavor of life - whether big or small - and that you don’t have to get it right all the time; in fact, no one expects you to get it right all the time.
To give yourself some grace would mean cutting yourself some slack. You and I are always being invited to love others, and it is indeed right and noble to do so. But you cannot love others when you don’t love yourself. In that same way, you cannot forgive others if we cannot forgive ourselves, we cannot cut others some slack if we cannot cut ourselves some slack, and we cannot give grace to others if we cannot give ourselves some grace.
This Lent, it is important for you to remember that if you are beating yourself up over all the things that weren’t perfectly done or weren't done in the right way, then you are failing to see the big picture. Heaven knows that it would be awesome if we were right or perfect all the time, but so long as we understand that wouldn’t be the case, we can give ourselves some grace because that’s the only way we can triumph over life’s difficulties.
There is a parable of an old farmer who owned an old mule. This mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule praying or whatever mules do when they fall into wells.
After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer sympathized with the mule but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth the trouble of saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together, told them what had happened, and enlisted them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.
Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling, and as the dirt hit the mule's back, a thought struck the creature. It suddenly dawned on the mule that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back, he would shake it off and step up.
So, this he did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up…shake it off and step up!” He repeated to encourage himself. No matter how painful the blows, or how distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought panic and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up!
It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well. What seemed like it would bury him actually helped him…all because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.
How do you handle the adversities that come your way? Have you been tough on yourself? Perfection is an illusion, so be kind to yourself and give yourself some grace.