Give Yourself Grace

On my vacation, I woke up in the middle of the night; my mind was working double time.  At 3 am, it was speaking words of disgust to me: Why didn’t I do this? I should have done that. Trying to turn it off and fall back to sleep, I was exhausted by its continual criticism. 

As an Enneagram 1, I struggle with self-criticism.  

A recovering perfectionist, I have always been hard on myself.  As I have become more self-aware, I can usually identify these negative thoughts and stop them.  However, in the middle of the night, I am easy prey to my old ways.   I start “should-ing” all over myself; I should have done this or should have said that.  Honestly, it is hard for me to extend grace to myself.

Do you also struggle with giving yourself grace?  I wish I had all the answers, but I am still a work in progress.  Here are three action steps that have helped me.

1. Replace the critical thoughts with God’s truth.

One of the solutions that helps me in the middle of the night is to turn on a light and read my Bible or Christian book.  Filling my mind with truth helps distract the critical thoughts. I encourage you to find a Bible verse that you can memorize and speak to yourself during the dark hours.  I like the verse Philippians 4: 8 in the Good News Translation.

2. Remember that life is not all bad or all good, but somewhere in the middle.

If you struggle with self-criticism, it is easy to go “all bad” and let your mind only focus on the negative parts of the day.  It took me years to stop vacillating between all bad or all good and instead remember that life is full of both.  I encourage you to reflect on the good parts of your day by writing them down or sharing them with a loved one.   

3. Speak words of grace and encouragement over yourself.

Remember God deeply loves you.  He does not want you tearing yourself down when you make a mistake.  When the self-critical thoughts come rearing its ugly head, I encourage you to surrender those negative thoughts to God and ask Him to calm your over-active mind.  

With your hands open wide, you can say these words, “God, I don’t want to live in the “should have” but instead I want to live free in Your truth.  Please give me Your strength to extend grace to myself and others.  Help me remember how much You love me and care for me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

The Gift of Time

Putting in another piece, I smiled as I looked at my mom.   Puzzles have always been our thing.    

Honestly, I usually don’t stop to work a puzzle during my busy week.  There are dishes to wash, kids to drive somewhere, laundry to do, and emails to send.  But last night, I chose to leave the to do list behind and just give the gift of time.

You see, my mom and dad are aging.   It is hard to admit it, but it is true. Right now, I am in this season where my kids are getting older; next year, I will have a middle schooler and a high schooler.  And at the same time, my parents are getting older too.   Maybe you can relate.

Spending intentional time with my kids has always been a priority for me.  Recently, I decided that I wanted to be just as intentional with my time with my parents, especially with my mom.

Remember LOVE is spelled TIME!

As you intentionally give your time to another person, you are showing them how important they are to you.  As you make them a priority, they feel loved. 

A Quick Side Note: Giving the gift of time does not mean over-scheduling. As someone who use to struggle with scheduling every minute of the day, I am now a huge believer in having margin in my life. In fact, I believe that having margin allows you to give the gift of time especially when a need arises.

Who do you need to give your gift of time?

Does one of your children need some extra one on one time together?  Do you have a sibling, parent, or spouse who needs some extra love right now?  Is one of your friends needing a listening ear?

I encourage you to sit on the floor with your young child and play Hot Wheels together.  Call your friend and catch up over coffee. Go on a walk around the lake with your loved one.  

You will never regret being intentional.   

Time is a limited resource.  We all have 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week.  How we spend our time is up to us?  Friends, I encourage you to use your time as a gift to others.  Each week pick one person you can intentionally bless. Remember that small gifts of time are just as special as big chunks.  Praying we can show love to others with our gift of time!

Love, Jodi