As I round out the last day of my 26th year, I am reflecting on the many moments that make this chapter complete. The last 365 days give me much to be grateful for, and as I look back, I am deciding to be most grateful for the lessons that this past year has brought my way.
Lessons don’t always come wrapped in beautifully trimmed packages, but they certainly leave the deepest impact. They don’t always feel like a luxurious day at the spa, but they renew your mind and your spirit in a way that your future self will understand and appreciate. Sometimes, they begin in the form of disappointment or failure, and they grow into an opportunity for growth and improvement. At the beginning of my 26th year, I had no idea what laid ahead of me, and I’m almost glad I wasn’t ready because I don’t think I would have allowed myself the satisfaction of experiencing all of life’s lessons for 26 if I had known about the twists and turns of this journey.
This morning, over a cup of single serve express latte, I was reminded of God’s grace. Experiencing His grace this year has been one of the biggest life lessons that I have learned over the course of my entire life. Grace stands in front of perfection and says, “There’s no room for you here.” Grace looks flawless in the face and says, “I’m sorry, but I don’t need you either.” Grace knocks at the door of spotless and whispers, “Stay inside, no need to come out today.”
Grace is a beautiful thing. It’s far more beautiful than any one person’s concept of perfection. I love this word Grace. It rolls of the tongue with an elegance that can’t quite be explained. It’s something we strive for, but it’s not only an image or expression of someone. It’s an entire way of life. Living a life of grace requires nothing more than a lack of perfection, an abundance of flaws, and a desire to accept people and life the way that they present themselves without the need to fix, to judge, to make perfect. Grace is forgiving when it still hurts. It’s allowing yourself the opportunity to be a part of something greater than yourself, knowing it won’t look as glamorous as you might want it to. Grace is not perfection, it’s not flawless, and it’s not easy.
I am my own worst critique, says most people. I am also yours, says no one. But it’s true. We not only require ourselves to be perfect, without blame, without flaw, and loved by all. We also require that everyone around us be spotless and pristine so that they can fit into our little bubble of perspective that we call “right”. Yes, we spend a great deal of time and effort trying to please others and be perfect in our own eyes, but we (I) also require that of everyone around us. Our society has taken a great shift into working on of our self-concept, and I think it’s great, but I also think we need to remember to accept others the same way that we want them to accept us.
It’s simple. I sat at breakfast this morning remembering the perspective that I saw people through a year ago. I felt a huge need to please everyone, to be everything for everyone, and I also required that of others. I didn’t realize it, and I never voiced it. However, the constant disappointment I felt towards others revealed to me that I was expecting too much from them. I cry out all that time that I want people to accept me for who I am (which is funny because I’m only now learning how to accept myself). But… even though I cry out to others, I’m not accepting them in all of their glory and unperfection.
So, grace. This is what I’m striving towards in my 27th year. Grace to exist in my most authentic form, and grace to allow others to do the same. Grace to understand that we are all just people – fully fallible, fully flawed, fully imperfect, and perfectly fine because we weren’t created to be perfect. We were created to experience and give grace.
– the Wife