The Woman I Am: A Lesson in Self-Grace

Today’s post is a bit different — a girlfriend-to-girlfriend talk to my fellow wives.

One of my biggest personal weaknesses is self-judgment. I always think I should be doing better than I am. My house should be cleaner. My dinners should be tastier. My garden should be better tended. My kids should be more productive. My body should be more fit. I should have my posts planned and written sooner. I should be quicker to answer emails and comments. I should have more books written. I should have my speaking plans fully outlined. I should read more. I should pray longer.

There’s me . . . and there’s The Woman I Should Be.

In the past week, I had two different people tell me I needed to cut myself a break. Well, that was a wake-up call!

Busy woman juggling way too much!

I started thinking about how we wives can be especially hard on ourselves. We somehow think we should have things more together than we do. We envision the woman we could be, if everything would just fall in line exactly as it should. We set high expectations and fail to live up to them.

Honestly, it doesn’t help that I’m a creature of habit in the realm of comparison. You ladies know what I’m talking about. We look at what someone else accomplishes and wonder why we can’t do everything they do. If only I could be like that seemingly perfect Christian wife and mom, I’d also have twelve Pinterest boards with all of my brilliant insight and family activities posted for the world to see. I’d trumpet my kids’ many accomplishments on Facebook, instead of privately congratulating myself that my kid finally hit the hamper with his socks or, dear Lord thank you, passed history. I’d be my husband’s sexy lover, my kids’ room and team mom, and my church’s Volunteer of the Year. I’d be ten pounds less than I weigh. I’d have half the Bible memorized, including the scripture references.

Meanwhile, there’s The Woman I Am. That woman who grimaces at the dirty bathroom sink and wonders if I can let it go one more day before cleaning. The woman who orders pizza for dinner because she failed to make it to the grocery store. The woman who edited one page of a writing project instead of the ten she was sure she’d get to. The woman who starts ten prayers for every one she finishes with an actual “Amen” (got distracted, interrupted, or fell asleep). The woman who lets her kids watch another mind-numbing hour of TV so she can have a few more minutes of peace. The woman who planned to have a fabulous night of conversation, closeness, and sex with the hubby and dozed off while he finished the last of his brought-home-from-the-office work. The Woman I Am.

I said to someone today, “I’m a total mess.” Thankfully, this godly woman said something to the tune of “We’re all messes.”

Sometimes, we’re hardest on ourselves. We fail to prioritize what’s really important or focus on the eternal because we’re caught up in trying to be someone we really can’t be. God doesn’t even expect perfection from us. Not without His healing grace covering all of our flaws. If I was The Woman I Should Be, why would I need Jesus? But instead, there’s The Woman I Am — a woman who needs large dollops of grace from my Lord and Savior and even some grace from myself.

God doesn’t promise perfection this side of Heaven. In fact, He came down in the body of Jesus Christ, so He knows exactly what it is to be human. He understands the challenges and the frustrations.

Wherever you are in your walk with Christ, in your work, in your raising of family, in your marriage, in your sexual intimacy — it’s tempting to kick yourself for not being further down the road. But give yourself some grace. You can’t do it all. Not today at least.

If your to-do list is too long, see if you can knock something off. But if it’s just that season of your life, do the best you can. If you’re on the wrong path, get on the right one, and if you get sidetracked, get back on that path — over and over. If you’re neglecting your marriage and family, do better today than you did yesterday and know you’re headed in a good direction. Keep your eyes fixed on Christ Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), not the make-believe version of The Woman You Should Be. The Woman You Are is enough for today. And God’s got you covered, if you take time to let Him in.

Even if your house isn’t worthy of visitors, or perhaps even wild animals, your family has a roof over their heads and beds to sleep in. Even if your kids’ clothes don’t match and their dinner manners are a constant work in progress (see “wild animals” above), they know you love them. Even if that dinner is a hodgepodge of leftovers, you fed your family today. Even if sex with the hubby was a morning quickie instead of the hour-long lovemaking you wish you could engage in, you made love and held each other afterward — and you’re working on making it a priority. Even if you didn’t complete your last few prayers all the way to the end, you started them.

He knows.

God knows The Woman You Are.

And that’s the very woman He loves.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
    I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34

22 thoughts on “The Woman I Am: A Lesson in Self-Grace

  1. Blenda Ramírez

    Amen! Thank you, I really needed to hear that. It was soothing to my soul. I’ve been so busy doing everything to be better and I get so tired! Thank you

  2. Meghan

    Amen from me too! I feel like I have so many areas of my life that need improvement – it has been too overwhelming to even begin! These thoughts were exactly what I needed!

  3. Jenn

    This is incredibly encouraging…thank you so much! I do believe God inspires your posts. Despite whatever you wish you could do better, don’t forget that you have an incredible ministry. I have personally been very blessed by this blog. And I’m sure my man appreciates it too! 🙂

  4. Lisa

    Thank you for this very encouraging reminder. It really “hit the spot” today.

  5. Flossie

    I have two pre-school aged children. I try to get up early for quiet time but it’s often interrupted by (1) someone waking up sooner than expected or (2) me dozing off. I feel like a failure every time I don’t finish my prayers because somebody needs their milk, the dog is begging to go out, or whatever. Thanks for the reminder that He sees the attempt.

  6. Erin

    Ah…
    A tearful sigh of relief.
    Thank you for understanding where so many of us are and encouraging us to give ourselves a break!

  7. Mama Rachael

    J, this is what we need to hear each and every day. I struggle with this regularly — am I doing what I should be doing? Can I do better? Where should I be? Grace is needed every day and the reminder that grace is available is needed.

  8. Megan@DoNotDisturb

    Definitely needed to read this today! I am dealing with a lot of emotions as I grieve the loss of my mother and and grandmother and am feeling the pressure from myself to be someone else, someone better. I know that God is with me and I must rest in that. He is slowly giving me a voice again but I’m learning to be ok in the waiting grounds. Thanks for sharing!

    Megan

    1. J Post author

      My deepest sympathy for your loss, Megan. It certainly does take time to grieve. May God and those around you give you comfort. And yes, let yourself rest in His grace.

  9. Gaye

    Really lovely and encouraging. This is still a challenge for me, even though our youngest is in college. I thought I would be better at organizing my life once the kids didn’t need my full-time attention, but it hasn’t worked out exactly as I imagined! I still need that grace every day to keep from falling into a pit of frustration. And I often forget to accept the grace, so I get frustrated a lot.

  10. Sharon Mavis

    It’s my first time to your site and it is delightful.
    Yes, the self-talk for me is self-contemptuous. I am learning more and more not to knock God’s creation (me). It’s a journey, that’s for sure.

  11. Debbie

    I feel this way on a regular basis and it’s nice to know I’m not the only one. I was reading the devotion today (May 6th) from “Jesus Calling” and it addresses this very thing… a good read if you have a copy! Thanks for your transparency and always keeping it “real” for your readers!

  12. Laura Liz

    Thank you so much for this! I am a single college student in the middle of finals week, and a lot of what you said still hits home for me. I am thankful for the reminder that God sees and knows us. I need to give the Woman I Am more grace, because God gives me grace. Here’s to making little improvements day by day and not beating ourselves up over who we aren’t. So much truth. Thank you!

    1. J Post author

      You’re welcome! And best wishes with those finals. (Been there, done that.)

  13. Jemmie

    Thanks! I get so bogged down in what I think I should be, I don’t even do what I can do at this point.

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