on expectations and grace

‘follow Me.’

we hear that simple sentence and take it at face value.

‘okay,’ we say. so, we go. we go to church, we volunteer, we go on mission trips, to youth groups or bible studies or small groups.

but far more elusive is this: treat yourself and others and Jesus would.

‘follow Me.’

that means to chase, to seek, to yearn for and, perhaps most importantly, mimic.

and so come expectations. high expectations for yourself, maybe, low expectations for others. maybe it is the reverse.

‘give him grace.’ i say to a friend with husband troubles. ‘give her grace.’ i say to a grandfather with a frustrated granddaughter.

‘give me grace.’ i might say when i have handed you the most devastating news imagineable. ‘give me grace.’ i say when i make the same mistake. over.

and over.

and over.

mistakes, seeking forgiveness, granting forgiveness. this is the pattern, the cycle, between God and His loves, (hopefully) between people in relationships of all shapes and sizes.

it is rarely, however, the cycle, the pattern, internally. we make a mistake and spend the next ten years agonizing over mistakes, over lost opportunities, over cruel words.

we–i–never take a moment to give ourselves (myself) grace. to look in the mirror, muster up the courage to admit (temporary) defeat, and say, ‘i love you as Christ loves you. i forgive you as Jesus forgives you. let’s. move. forward.’

and so here i am, wanting to acknowledge.

my pregnancy didn’t go as planned. i became unhealthy, i gained too much, i didn’t prepare as i should have.

my birth didn’t go as planned. i cried, i screamed, i shouted profanities as loud as i could, begged God to help me.

breastfeeding didn’t go as planned. i lost too much, grew sick, barely clung to it before my love was old enough to eat outside foods, necessary to supplement my inadequate supply.

and maybe further back. my life didn’t go as planned. marry the right guy, wait the right amount of time to have a baby, be financially stable, look great, prove ’em wrong, etc etc. i struggle, still. we struggle, still.

and it is somehow almost impossible to look at myself and say, ‘you’re forgiven. try again. you’re forgiven. it is in your past. you don’t live there anymore. your mistakes are not a noose around your neck, tightened ever-so-slightly each day by a God counting balances. He forgave you. forgive yourself.’ 

so. tomorrow, i may not wake up unburdened by pain and frustration. but just maybe, i’ll wake up with a freer heart, a lightened shoulder, a stronger walk. and just maybe, one tiny little corner of my life will do an about face and look a little more like His.