A few weeks ago, you wrote out a couple of New Year’s resolutions. They were fierce.
You said you were going to cut back on Facebook and focus on being present with your family. You were going to keep your sink clean and work out every day. You were going to get up early and be more intentional with your time so you could be a better steward of your gifts. You were not, not, not going to get frustrated with your beginning readers during homeschool time, even if it takes all year before they can distinguish between “a” and “the”.
So. How are things going?
I imagine some things are going pretty well. After all, you’re pretty tenacious when you have a mind to be, and it’s not really that hard to clean the sink.
Other things are not going so well. Those resolutions you made because you don’t like your body or the way your career is going or how easily you fritter away the time? Those are the ones that matter, and those resolutions are the ones you’re struggling with, aren’t they? You put in a good two or three days, but already, things are starting to slide.
Might I offer you a suggestion, since I know you so well?
Stop giving yourself grace.
You heard me: enough with the grace.
It sounds almost unholy, but there is no room for grace when you are attempting to change bad habits or establish new, healthy ones. There isn’t.
You have to give that new discipline time to take root, and quite honestly, it’s barely sprouted.
After all, we’re only fifteen days into January. You’ve successfully made good on your commitment to workout for what, two weeks now?
I have news for you: you have not yet earned the grace you so readily offer yourself.
In order for grace to be grace, it has to be the exception, not the rule. You have to get out of bed day, after day, after day, after day and do the thing you set out to do before you can play the grace card.
Grace comes after the law has been established. Not before.
Otherwise grace is not grace at all, but license, license to do the very thing you have declared to be destructive to your health and happiness and license to ignore the things you know will make your life better.
Let me ask you this: Do you really want to give yourself permission to keep the parts of your life that aren’t working? Do you really want to stay ineffective, irresponsible, and unproductive? Do you really want to settle for a life that’s less than it could be?
Well, then, go ahead and accept the consolation of so-called grace. I’ll even give you some grace-laced phrases to help you out. Look yourself in the mirror and say, “I’m just going to ease into it,” or “I’ll start tomorrow,” or “Our homeschool day really isn’t so bad.”
Go ahead. Give yourself permission to violate the very standard you have set for yourself. Blame it on circumstances. Blame it on the kids. Blame it on whatever you want, just don’t take responsibility for it yourself.
Because if you want to live an ineffective life, I promise, the best way to do it is to keep on accepting defeat as coincidental, circumstantial, or outside of your control. Keep on giving yourself the grace of excuses.
But if you want to change your life, stop it.
Stop giving yourself that kind of grace.
Do not use the circumstances of your life
as an excuse
not to change the circumstances of your life.
It’s not like your circumstances are really that unique. Everyone has trouble getting up in the morning. Everyone is tempted to eat chocolate instead of salad. Everyone is busy. Can you think of one circumstance of yours that is so much of an impairment, it leaves you impotent to change?
I didn’t think so.
Allow me to give you this exhortation: Do not be a victim of your circumstances. You can choose to change or you can choose not to change, but know this: either way, you’re making a choice.
Oh, you say, not everything is my choice. I did not choose to have this chronic insomnia or children with learning issues or a house that won’t clean itself.
No, you didn’t. But you do choose what to do with them. More importantly, you choose whether or not to let those immovable circumstances dictate all your other choices. You choose to stay in the game and move the pieces you can, or you choose to quit.
You choose to get up when the alarm goes off whether you feel like it or not. You can stay in bed and whine about how you didn’t sleep well last night and therefore should not be required to get up when you said you would, or you can remind yourself that many people have faced far greater challenges than you have, and have done far more with their lives in spite of it.
A person with no legs has run a marathon. A deaf person has composed symphonies. A paraplegic has taught herself to paint with her mouth because she cannot move her arms. An exhausted mother has taught her severely autistic son to read.
They did not take the grace.
Today, you have the same choice. Will you take the grace? Or will you give your healthy patterns and behaviors to take root in your life? You know what I’m hoping you’ll do.
I’m hoping you don’t take the grace.
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