Give Yourself Grace in the New Year


2018 image

As 2018 slipped away, I felt more than a little frustrated with myself.

Every year, I establish three focus words that I try to prioritize and live into during the next 12 months.

In 2018, my words were Strength. Connection. And Fun.

Doing my end-of-year inventory, I gave myself credit for embodying strength through much of the year. I’d faced some challenges that felt big to me – including transitioning to a new job that better suited my personality and needs, and meeting my biological father – and then losing him again – within an emotional roller-coaster ride of just 11 December days. (That’s a story for another post, for sure.)

But I definitely didn’t connect through this blog the way I intended, and I did a horrific job of scheduling time to connect with new and old friends. When it came to the question of whether I’d had “fun,” I found I was mad at myself for allowing small things to still rob me of some enjoyable moments during the year.

I was tempted to declare the year something of a wash, when another word came to me – grace. I needed to show myself a bit of grace – just as I strive to show grace to others.

And in doing that, I realized, I needed to give myself credit for some of the seemingly small things that I navigated in 2018. What were some things that felt big to me, even while they weren’t things that would necessarily go in a scrapbook, a lifetime highlight reel, or on a resume?

A few came to mind, and I bet that some of you did these very things, too:

  1. I helped my daughter navigate the transition from junior high to high school. I made sure to make time for her as she started trying to make sense of the crazy-making, unpredictable world of dating.
  2. I ushered my son into the teen years back in the spring, when he turned 13. I’m working daily to learn what he needs from me – and also what he does not. There have been some definite missteps, but we are learning together.
  3. For 365 consecutive days, I managed to navigate the life of professional working mom, partnering with my husband to get our kids where they needed to be and ensuring their needs were met. During that time, we never once left them stranded (for more than 27.5 minutes, anyway) at a band rehearsal, soccer practice or ACT session. Given the demands of both of our jobs – and the sheer volume of activities our busy children – and basically most children in these modern times – are part of, this is arguably our biggest accomplishment of the year.
  4. Every holiday was celebrated in a way that felt appropriate for us. There were Valentine cards on the right day, and Easter baskets on the appropriate day. The Christmas decorations were both enjoyed and put away, and we didn’t engage in a single holiday tradition out of mere duty.
  5. Everyone in the household was fed in some manner or another for 365 days. Some days, this admittedly involved swinging through a drive-through. Other days, the crockpot or (new) Instapot was our meal ticket. Here and there, dinner might have been a nice Luna Bar and some fruit or celery. A lot of cereal was eaten at all hours of the day and night as well. Regardless, everyone consumed some sort of food – even me. Downright incredible, right?
  6. Every day of the year, I managed to remember that driving requires gas. And while I cut it close and bargained irrationally with God way more than I should have while on isolated roads, with no gas station in sight, I never once ran out of gas. Winning!
  7. For 52 straight weeks, I ensured that our little family had the necessary toilet paper, dish-washing liquid, shower gel, number two pencils, and laundry detergent. Every member of my family had the medications they required, when they required them. We even had cleaning supplies and toothpaste as needed.
  8. Our awesome Labradoodle, Buddy, was fed by someone in the family every night for 365 days, even when this required cajoling and even nagging and melting down on my part.
  9. In an entire year, I didn’t – at least permanently – lose my keys, my phone or my purse, even once.
  10. While I got a speeding ticket this year (hello, Carthage, Mississippi), I managed to pay it before a warrant was issued for my arrest. And I managed to avoid additional tickets, even when logging an insane number of miles on Mississippi’s wide-open highways.
  11. I have breathlessly awaited – and prayed like crazy – for people I love in various stages of cancer this year, and also held my breath a few times when dealing with my own children’s health scares. Even when I’ve been scared out of my skull, I’ve done my best not to show it.
  12. I’ve exercised my body here and there this year, even if a lot of that was just walking the dog. I also adjusted to a gluten-free lifestyle after new, middle-age-onset food allergies seemed to necessitate it. I now know that Rice Crispy treats don’t have gluten, but corn dogs do – really important for someone who eats out of rural gas stations an awful lot.
  13. I was kind to my husband this year. (He deserves it, believe me.) In fact, I didn’t even cut him the day that both he and my 13-year-old son told me to calm down. Strength, indeed!

What about you? What are some little things you’ve done this year that, while not seemingly huge, are worthy of recognition? How will you show yourself grace in the new year, while also pushing yourself to be better?




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