I heard these words come out of my best friend’s mouth about me leaving my job of the last 11 years to be a stay-at-home-mom.
In my head it didn’t make sense. I’d have all the time in the world. Literally.
I was in for a rude awakening.
All those things other people chipped in to help with when I was teaching like laundry, vacuuming, dishes, childcare, errands became my new time crunch.
And on top of it, because I was a stay-at-home-mom, I felt the need to jump into the PTO, take on a new business to help out with finances, and pitch in more with our non-profit.
On its own, motherhood within the home is a huge job, but add in all those extra features to it, and here I am feeling confused and lost like a fish out of water.
No schedule. No “This happens now” and “That happens then.”
And in that “stuff,” no matter what it is, it is so easy to get distracted and land in this place of confusion and disappointment.
The kids aren’t getting enough of my attention. I didn’t make that call. I missed that appointment. The house isn’t clean as it should be. The laundry isn’t caught up. The blog hasn’t been written lately. I haven’t worked out in months. I’m behind on Bible study. I. Am. Such. A. Failure.
I am floundering, it’s true, but I’ve got one thing that keeps lifting me up.
I’m not wandering aimlessly.
Best of all, I have a purpose and a calling.
I can lean on Him as hard and as often as I need to.
Lord, what have You put in front of me today?
This pile of laundry? A game of Sorry with my four-year-old? A random blog post You put on my heart in the middle of loading the dishwasher?
Then I consider it joy.
Because it is so unbelievably easy to see it as being scattered or lost or even failing.
But all I needed was a little perspective and a big reality check, that came in the form of advice from another wonderful friend.
Reality: Satan saw an opportunity to chip away at my heart, and I let him.
I’m not good enough
Not worth it
Should do more than I can handle
I’m a failure
It’s okay to be lazy because being a mom is hard
I’m right where God has placed me after answering a six-year-long prayer.
Exactly what my family needs.
Have enough on my plate, and He will guide me.
Succeeding. Learning. Growing.
Pull strength from the Lord when being a mom is hard.
Trust that He is sufficient and His grace is enough.
I don’t have to worry.
I’m no longer a slave to fear.
For I am a child of a graceful, loving, peaceful God.
If you’ve ever been forgiven for something or loved even though you haven’t been the best version of yourself, you’ll appreciate these habits.
It’s the one thing any of us ever need to both give and to receive: grace.
This isn’t something that just happens. In fact, it’s quite purposeful.
There are habits that grace-giving people do each day, and because God’s grace is something we’re given, it only makes sense that we, too adopt the following:
1. Wake up enjoying Jesus
When I wake up it can be hard to think about enjoying Jesus.
To do anything more than obey my autopilot: shuffle into the bathroom, turn on the hot water, stand.
Beginning our day with a thankful heart is huge.
It can literally change our attitude, how we face our day, and what the outcome of that day actually looks like.
Once the fog clears, we can start enjoying Him.
Thank You for my home. For my children. For a job that makes our life possible. Thank You for this day you’ve given me. I praise You for a hot shower. Thank You for a new day. A new beginning. A fresh start.
Even in the middle of a pile of heavy junk, Lord, I have a new start today.
Thank You for mercies new every morning. For Your grace that is so big and so deep and so freely flowing that I can receive Your love even when it seems like all the odds are against me.
Thank You for knowing more than me.
For seeing the big picture so I don’t have to. Thank You for this life and this day, and help me make choices that reflect Your love and grace in it.
Beginning each day in prayer of thanks and even asking God for help with facing the challenges of the day, you open your life to His grace, and in turn are more able to spread that grace onto others.
2. Study the Word
It was a struggle for years thinking I didn’t need to do a Bible study.
Said that I knew what the Bible said, and I loved God. I was a good person.
My shallow view of studying the Bible only hindered my relationship with God, thus hindering my relationship with others.
Once I got over myself and became humble enough to think maybe I didn’t know everything (duh) my life began.
I start my day bundled in a chunky knit blanket with a cup of hot coffee next to me in the same spot each morning.
I curl up into my Bible study praying with an open heart that God will take these lessons, these words-His Word- and work it into my heart changing me to be more like Him. To give me something to dwell on and grow from within.
With each study, each page, each sentence, I learn little nuggets of what it means to be like Jesus, live like Jesus, love like Jesus, and I face my day thinking of Jesus.
We start our day with joy when we start our day with Jesus.
Joy opens our eyes to grace. It fills us with the ability to give grace to others.
Joy-filled people aren’t dishing out hate.
They’re giving love. Jesus. Grace.
Starting our day studying the Bible changes the face of our entire day and in turn shapes our entire life.
3. Sing Praise
This one is one of my favorite habits.
In fact, starting my day listening to a Christian radio station in the kitchen as I make breakfast for my family just reaches into my heart and sets me up for grace. I can’t help it.
Singing God’s praise, no matter how bad the morning or what kind of struggle I’m facing, rights my heart.
Really listen to the words and think about what God is trying to tell you about this Son of His that was given to us for our saving.
What He’s telling you about where you are right now and how to handle it. It’s all there.
In this experience of Jesus, you’ll start to even notice the songs that come on are just what you need. Just for you.
You’ll find yourself in awe of how big God’s love is for you.
When we belt out the tune and feel the tears welling up in our eyes from the overwhelming love of the Holy Spirit filling up our heart, we feel Jesus.
A heart full of the Lord breeds grace.
We feel His grace loving us even when we are unlovable. We turn that grace outward and love others through our day.
4. Pray through the Work Day
If we walk into work and face the negativity of the day’s tasks that bear their full weight on our shoulders, and we pray right when we think we can’t take it any more, “God, help!” we know Jesus right then and there.
When He comes along to pull us out of gossip and rudeness. To soften our hearts for our co-workers or a stranger on the phone, and we in turn give kindness when it isn’t deserved, we give Jesus. We give grace.
We’ve all had those days when we need something to pull us away from the negativity our environment throws at us. This is it, friends.
It’s a tried and true method.
It’s one of the biggest things that really solidified my relationship and understanding of just how powerful God really is.
Praying through your work day whether that’s in an office, in a field, or in the playroom with your children, you’ve got a mighty tool that can change how your heart views each situation and how your mouth reacts to it.
Your words are shaped by the truth of your heart.
If the truth of your heart is the Truth of who Jesus is (grace, love, patience, etc), then imagine what kind of a day you can have.
What kind of day you can give to others.
5. Speak Grace
If we come home to our spouse starting up again, bringing on old points of contention they know will lead to argument, and instead of fighting back, you pray, “Love is patient. Love is kind” to yourself, the result will knock you back a step or two.
When, instead of hate-filled, I-got-the-last-word spite, you hold your tongue, you’re speaking volumes.
If you walk in the door and your children are arguing, your husband didn’t do that one thing you needed him to, and your dog just barfed in the floor all at once (because that’s just kinda how life goes sometimes), you choose how you react. Yelling and anger and accusatory speech makes the situation the same.
Grace makes the situation very different.
Because you’ve been with Jesus all day, your heart is different. You’ve walked into a mess, but you’re prepared mentally to handle it because it’s just another bump in the road of the day.
Instead of yelling, you hug, you explain, you hold your tongue, you reach for thanks that you have a home and a crazy family and a loyal companion. You take a deep breath and turn to praise.
You give grace when you turn to Jesus.
Your home becomes more peaceful, situations diffuse more quickly, and you can give grace because all day long you’ve been giving and receiving grace.
And so, it just…fits.
6. Share Jesus
This one is tricky.
Not everyone wants to hear about your God. Or how beautiful His love is. Or what He’s done for you today.
In some situations, it’s perfectly natural to share that Jesus captivated your heart from the minute you opened your Bible that morning, but in others, it doesn’t feel like the right time.
And that’s okay.
When I’m met with these situations, I can’t help but think of Jesus meeting nonbelievers where they were.
He didn’t go in, guns blazing, knocking people over with a spew of judgement. He loved them.
Just simply, purely loved.
That’s how we give grace.
So, if you want to share the Lord, but you don’t know how, I can promise you two things:
1.) Judging, pushing, and acting holier than thou isn’t going to bring anyone to know God, sinner. None of us have it together. Even those who pray all day. We can’t. We need a Savior no matter which way we spin it, so just love. Love your heart out. Love like Jesus.
2.) Building a relationship with nonbelievers and believers alike and sharing how God works in your life from a place of humble praise is the only way to go. Acting like we had anything to do with our blessings is going to push others away from God, and that is just so not the point. Let’s love more and boast less.
Sometimes it takes showing others that we are empty without Love, that we are nothing without the Lord, and that because we are given His grace and mercy, we show it, too is all it takes to soften a heart toward the greatest gift we could ever give another human being.
Let’s love people with grace toward Jesus.
7. End the Day in Praise
Thank You for this day. For the opportunities, lessons, and people in it. Thank You for walking me through the tough situations and for holding me up when I needed it. For blessing me and for providing this life. Thank You for my inheritance as a child of God and for giving it all so I can have You. I love You.
In a world that tries its hardest to point us toward justice, judgement, and spite, you can be a light.
But it’s an intentional thing. It doesn’t just happen. It’s an actual, gradual change.
How does this apply to you today?
Maybe you start with number 1 and practice that for a couple weeks. Waking up enjoying Jesus is a pretty great place to start.
And it only gets better from there.
What a relief to know that His grace isn’t something I have to earn, but instead something lavished upon me in His ultimate love.
Pride: a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
Why would anyone want to get rid of a pleasurable feeling?
Every time we get a sense of pride-of true unabashed pride-we are really saying one thing: “Look what I did.”
My son can speak at three months: look what our boy can do.
I spend two-and-a-half years getting my Masters degree: look what I finally accomplished. Look at how my hard work has paid off.
My husband makes a sale that affords us renovation: All of those long, hard days and sacrifices our family has made while my husband worked so hard is blessing us.
The 8th graders in my class create amazing projects: Look what my students did after a long quarter of perseverance.
All of these things, they’re good things, but pride isn’t the feeling we should associate with it because pride is a lie.
Pride is a Lie
We have been taught to believe pride. To relish it. To find our joy in it.
And frankly, no one likes to hear that something they like is a sin.
But it is.
If you read further down into the synonyms part of the definition, you’ll read the following:
Pride is a lofty and often arrogant assumption of superiority in some respect: Pride must have a fall.
Must have a fall.
Then why in the world do we tell our children, “I’m proud of you” or our husband upon that bonus check, “Babe! I’m so proud of you!” or to others, “I’m proud that I stuck with that degree, it’s really paying off”?
Because we’ve been taught to.
Child of God, when looking within ourselves, we must remember that we are living in this world, but we are not of this world.
In It Not Of It
Whether we particularly like it or not, we are set apart. Living in exile.
Which is why what I’m sharing today is most likely not sitting well with my readers.
How do we undo this prideful thinking?
We must trade in old feelings for new.
It sounds impossible, but it can be done.
We must change our view on how the achievement was made.
All things. Not some things. All.
And if this is our truth, if this is what we claim to believe, then we cannot ever take complete credit for accomplishments because that would be a lie. That would be prideful.
And pride, we know, must come with a fall.
These three words are all we need:
Instead of “I’m so proud of…” say, “I’m so grateful that…” or “I’m so thankful that…” or “I praise God for…”
Some Easy Changes
“I’m proud of myself for sticking with that tough course load and making it to graduation. That was so tough!”
“I’m so thankful God helped me through that course. That was so tough!”
“Babe! I’m so proud of you!”
“Thank God you were able to earn this bonus. I’m so thankful!”
“I’m so proud of you, son!”
“I’m really thankful God helped you through this test. I know you studied hard for it.”
What’s the Payoff for Ditching Pride?
It really is a switch in how we think about the end result of our hard work, but we must speak truths, especially to our children.
We are the only way they will know who’s truly at work within them allowing them the strength, courage, and perseverance to complete tasks.
Today, instead of falling from pride, we’ll fall to our knees and pray, “God, thank you!”
We will use the words with our children, “I’m so thankful God was with you through that assignment,” or “Thank you, God for my child. Thank you for his courage. His heart. And that I get to be his momma.”
Turn Our Hearts and Eyes
We will still feel joy, excitement, and happiness, but we will turn our hearts toward giving credit where credit is due.
While only God can change a heart, we do play a very specific role in how our children’s hearts are shaped. We play an active part in our own salvation and heart changes, too.
Because we know God wants our hearts, we know we have to make ours right and raise up the next generation to understand the driving force behind their life, too.
Thank you, Lord for being with me as I wrote this piece. I pray You are in my reader’s hearts so they can become closer to You through this post. I love you! Amen!