I was going to sleep last night (or I was trying to at least), but my brain was just going 90 miles an hour. I kept thinking about grace. How I needed to accept when others give me grace and how I need to give myself grace some more. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this has been something that I've struggled with/ worked towards ever since I was pregnant with my son (and he's 18 months old now.) I was curious so I looked up the Webster definition of grace (there are several in case you are wondering), but I want to focus this one.
1. A special favor
2. A temporary exemption
3. Disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
I remember finding out I was pregnant with my son and being overjoyed. Along with feeling overjoyed, I was throwing up everyday and the notorious "morning sickness" looked a lot more like 24 hour a day sickness for 18 weeks. Some days I got up and I was NOT excited to be pregnant because of how sick I felt. Then slowly but surely, guilt would begin to set in, "You should be more grateful. So many people would give anything to be pregnant like you are. What a selfish person you are." Just because I wasn't basking in the glory of every moment of my pregnancy did not mean I was a bad, horrible, selfish person. It meant I was human. First lesson in this journey of motherhood to giving myself grace. It wasn't bad or wrong to have moments of feeling bad or not singing the joys of pregnancy, it is bad to stay there; to let it soak in and become more than just a moment and start to become part of your core being. Without grace for ourselves, I think we would all be jaded and hard because we are human and we are not perfect.
I know people who find out they are pregnant and their first reaction is just about the farthest thing from joy. It is more of dread, fear, and "oh my goodness. what are we going to do?" It is not bad to feel these things. It is bad to stay there. I like to tell my doula clients, give yourself time to grieve when things didn't go according to your plan, but set a time frame then move on. Every time there are things that rock our world, there are still things around us to find joy in. I feel like our culture tries to tell us it is bad to feel anything other than happy. Honestly though, without tears and sorrow, we can't feel joy and happiness as deeply as they are intended to be felt. Personally, I want to feel all the emotions. Whether they are good or bad, because they shape me, they shape you. So when your reactions about your pregnancy might not be the jumping for joy society screams in the ONLY acceptable response, give yourself some grace. Give yourself some time. I bet that allowing yourself to feel whatever you need to feel in that moment will help you feel the joy deeper when you get there.
We need grace in birth too. Sometimes we envision this perfect birth where we magically breathe our baby down and we look like a princess doing it (for the record, my birth went nothing like that.) Many times, that is not what happens. We may end up screaming curse words at our husbands, we may get an epidural, or we may have a cesarean. Any number of things that weren't part of our plan can happen. Here is another opportunity to give yourself grace. The fact of the matter is at the end of the day you gave birth to another human being. You know what, that is seriously something to be proud of. Do not let the lies of self doubt screaming in your ear become your truth. "You weren't strong enough. You failed." Lies. These are just lies. Satan wants to speak lies into you when you are entering this season of motherhood, but God speaks truth that you are enough. God promises His strength is sufficient. However your birth turned out, give yourself grace. You did hard work and you should proud. I'm proud of you.
Another aspect often overlooked is adoption. Adoption is hard work too. It is your journey and transformation into becoming parents. Adopting a baby can be filled with as much joy and turmoil as pregnancy and birth. It needs to be filled with grace too. Those of you who adopt, be so proud of the amazing work you are doing while becoming parents to the precious souls that God gives you.
For me, the hardest season of learning how to give myself grace has been in parenting. I am the farthest thing from perfect and mess up frequently trying to raise this tiny human. It is so easy for me to hear the lies of failure and to get caught up in them. Some days (you know those days where you want to get back into bed and call a "redo") I have to pray and choose grace every minute of the day. With things like Facebook, instagram, and pinterest, we have society screaming look at my "perfect" life. I promise you no one and I mean no one has it that together. We all have messy moments and honestly, we all even make the wrong decision sometimes. We have to choose grace and learn from it and move on through. We cannot sit and dwell on our mistakes and let the guilt take over. We were created for so much more. Heres the thing I'm learning though, it is a choice. There is no magic grace fairy or peace fairy who is going to come down and make all your problems and struggles go away. We have to choose it. We have to pray for God's strength to do it then choose it and keep moving forward.
Life is messy and hard, but I wouldn't want it any other way. It makes me enjoy the gift of grace and the beauty in all of the mess.
I hope and pray that today you choose grace.