A guest post by Heidi Dennis
If you are anything like me, you are already lost in the Christmas lists- the to-do lists, the gift lifts, etc. You are desperately trying to figure out what to give to those around you. Well, I’m here to offer YOU a gift. This particular gift just might change your life. Once you receive this gift, you may never be the same. Intrigued? Lean in close. This gift is actually a secret. And here it is…you can’t offer to someone else what you aren’t willing to offer yourself.
That’s it. That’s the secret. That’s the gift. It sounds deceptively simple, however let’s break it down even further. The MOST important thing that we can’t offer others if we aren’t willing to offer it to ourselves is grace. If we can’t offer ourselves grace, it is impossible to offer it to those around us.
Let’s look at a few scenarios…
Scenario 1: You’ve worked tirelessly on fixing that perfect Christmas dinner. Martha Stewart would even be jealous. You FINALLY sit down to eat after hours of preparation and your child spills milk all over everything that you have just prepared. You completely lose your cool. You begin yelling and your child starts crying. You immediately feel awful and start beating yourself up. Thoughts like “I am a terrible parent” roll through your head. Grace is the LAST thing that you are offering to yourself in that moment. And the rest of your day is spent feeling a sense of defeat.
Scenario 2: You are all “peopled” out (do you ever get this way, too?). You are feeling the stress of all of the busyness and the endless Christmas parties. You’ve got zero patience left and suddenly you find yourself getting snippy with your spouse. It turns into a huge conflict and things are said that you don’t really mean. Suddenly you find yourself in that same place again of beating yourself up (zero grace). You feel so bad about how you’ve acted that you’re left with nothing but that awkward tension in the room.
Each of these scenarios could have turned out completely differently if a little grace was offered at the front end. I’m not even talking about the grace given to the other person after the spilled milk or the argument. I’m talking about the grace that you offer yourself when you take the pressure off. The grace that comes with resetting your expectations- from things being “perfect” to just doing the best that you can. Grace that says, “Maybe I don’t have to go to all of these events” and save some of that energy for your family. It’s SO much easier to offer this grace to others if you have first offered it to yourself. And, if you find that you miss offering that grace to yourself and you lose your ‘you know what’, you can always offer that grace to yourself on the back end. Instead of beating yourself up, move to repair. Apologize for your actions. Work towards reconnecting.
The holidays can be hard. We could all use a little grace this season. Just don’t forget to offer some to yourself, as well.