My daughter’s middle name is Grace.
When we chose the name, our simple definition of GRACE was that it is
“an undeserved gift”.
I have a lot to learn about GRACE.
I have been reading a lot from moms lately; mostly about guilt and fear of failure and intense pressure to “get it right”. What’s up with that?
It appears that women in general, and moms in particular, are harder on themselves than anyone else. Grace is a tough concept to grasp. I think this is partly nature and partly nurture. Nature (the way God created us) has wired us this way, so that we work to do things well. Our culture “nurtures” (not the right term at all in this case!) the way we view our roles as women and mothers.
Any woman who has given birth has likely experienced the abundance of “blaming” terminology that plagues obstetrics and post partum care:
- The woman on bed rest because of her incompetent cervix
- The woman with the “smaller than dates” fetus who is told “your baby isn’t happy in there” (when in the end her little girl is simply a very healthy petite child)
- The woman who labors well for hours upon hours and eventually needs a C-section due to failure to progress
- The woman with the small, slow growing baby is written up in her medical record as: baby: failure to thrive
- The woman who can’t produce enough breast milk is told she has inadequate milk supply, though all her prenatal preparation told her that “breast is best!”, and that the body will always supply enough milk for the baby
What do women hear in these messages?
My body isn’t good enough
We don’t stand a hope of feeling good about ourselves with this kind of language attached to us. These labels travel far beyond our medical records into our psyches.
The media tells us we’re not thin enough, not young enough in appearance or in body, not wealthy enough, not skilled enough. The information super-highway of the internet and books and magazines and journal articles offer up an over abundance of excellent information about how we should mother and how we should work and how we should love and how we should play; and an equal amount of information on all that we should not!
How do we filter all of this? Information is good but the pressure it places on us is enormous. I love information! I love to read and I love to hear different angles on things that matter to me. I am learning to filter, to take what fits for my life and my values and my family, and toss the rest.
But the pressure is still strong to be the perfect WOMAN. And that is where I (we!) need to learn about GRACE. How do we find this elusive grace?
When I speak badly to my husband or my children, is there grace?
When the house is a mess and the schoolwork isn’t done, is there grace?
When I say the wrong thing and I know it, is there grace?
When I forget something important, is there grace?
When the baby is small or the breast milk isn’t coming in, is there grace?
In all of these circumstance I know that I, for one, am the last person to offer up grace to myself. Others offer it up far more quickly.
Grace is a gift.
When a gift is given, we can choose to receive the gift, or refuse the gift.
The gift does not become mine until I actually take it.
God offers grace.
“He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.””
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
What a relief that is!! Power made perfect in weakness. Wow. Now all I have to do is allow myself to be weak. This will take some learning…
I recently read these quotes about grace.
“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace–only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
~ Anne Lamott
“The art of celebrating life isn’t about getting it right, but about receiving grace.”
~ Ann Voskamp
Apart from leaving me wondering if there is something special about the name Ann(e) that predisposes one to saying profound things, I am left with a renewed understanding of the meaning of grace. It’s not about getting everything right. It’s about leaving the situation changed; changed by having received (willingly!) the gift of grace from both God and others; and reminded to offer up grace not only to others, but to myself.
Grace be with you on your journey.