As I mindlessly scrolled Instagram one night, six words stopped me mid-scroll: Dear Black Girl, Give yourself grace. I read it aloud to myself and chuckled. Reading those words was like having a therapist in my ear. I have a big heart, and I look for the good in everyone. Whenever a friend needs an ear or my child needs reassurance, I am right there. So, where is that compassion when it comes to me? Why is it so hard to be kind to myself?
But giving yourself grace is all about being kind to yourself. It’s permission to look past your flaws and forgive your mistakes. My parents raised me to be kind to everyone (even when they don’t deserve it). For some, it may be tough being nice to someone knowing they won’t appreciate it, but it’s the Christian thing to do.
I also grew up believing that I had to work harder than everyone else. Even as an adult, there was this subconscious checklist of things I needed to complete to become a ‘successful’ woman, wife, and mom—and moms never get days off. What was I trying prove and at what cost?
As a community-based healthcare professional, I teach my patients to care for themselves. I give them grace for missing appointments or not remembering to call for refills. When I am the patient, talking about weight gain and stress, my doctor shares words of encouragement. Her advice to me is to be kind to myself and to think about what I would tell my own patients. I would remind them—and I do—that we are living in a pandemic and that lives have been changed forever.
At 40 and right before the pandemic, I became a single mom to a 4-year-old boy. My life completely changed, and I deserve grace. I deserve to rest. It is okay to sleep late and to decline the invitation. It’s okay to leave the laundry in the basket for a few days and not empty the dishwasher before bed. There is no reason for me to live every day in hustle mode. Just because I take a break doesn’t mean I’m broken. Grace looks like permitting myself to press pause when life comes at me fast and no longer trying to do everything on my own when I can accept help from others.
Grace also looks like not comparing myself to strangers on the internet, especially when it comes to parenting. There is nothing wrong with ordering takeout more than one night a week, and forgetting to return the field trip permission slip is not a tragedy. It is okay to admit that I am overwhelmed; I have never been a mother before. Grace looks like accepting that I don’t have to be perfect to be the best mom for my son. There is no one on this planet who could be a better mom to him than I am. I know this because God chose me to be his mother.
I need to watch how I speak to myself. We know how the scripture goes—words are powerful. When a friend comes to me for advice or words of encouragement, I welcome them with open arms. It’s like I always have the right things to say. If only I spoke to myself this way…
I need to let it go, all the hurt and mistakes. (Elsa tried to tell us, but we were tired of listening.) Being kind to myself is about forgiving myself for not knowing better. And grace looks like acknowledging my worth and using those past experiences to become the woman I am destined to be. Grace is letting go, it is the gift of release that makes room for an even bigger blessing. So, when I make my gift list for the holiday season, I will surely add lots of grace for myself. I deserve it, and so do you.
What does giving yourself grace mean to you?