Search
  • Lisa Popcak

Give Yourself Grace




A couple of weeks ago a woman named Laura called into More2life. She was feeling completely run down, and like she wasn’t enough. She went on to explain that she had a 10 month old daughter who thankfully had overcome medical issues that were present in her first months of life. She and her husband both had to work full time. She also briefly mentioned that she had some medical issues involving her thyroid and hormones. She said that all the additional appointments and everything she has to do is leaving her feeling frustrated with her life and exhausted. But she was feeling guilty for feeling that way. 


As we talked more it occurred to me that not only was she minimizing her own medical concerns, as though she wasn’t important enough to mention them, she also hadn’t even factored in that when her precious baby was 4 months old the world began the pandemic that we’re all still trying to cope with as I write this. In fact when I mentioned it she gave a little “oh, that old thing” kind of laugh. 


As I started to point out everything she has physically and emotionally gone through over the last 19 months, starting with the beginning of pregnancy until now,she actually seemed surprised. We talked about how she hadn’t had time to emotionally process any of it, or physically recover.


Then I told her how I genuinely, deeply felt, that she is a superhero! Far from feeling guilty for needing time to rest, recover, and reorient, she should instead hear that she is AMAZING!!! Amazing for coping as well as she has, for managing to do everything she’s doing every day, for acknowledging that she didn’t feel right inside, for pursuing help. 


It was a wonderful conversation, and Laura cried with relief at what she was hearing. There were factors in play that she hadn’t taken into account. Being overwhelmed caused her to focus solely on what she perceived, wrongly, as her shortcomings.


How often do we each do  something similar? We are awash with stressors of many kinds. We begin to sense our internal alarm bells going off. We desperately want to fix something so it will stop, so we can have relief and peace. But often our stressed out brains decide to fixate on one thing. “If I could only change______, everything else would get better too.”  We might narrow in on our perception of some aspect of ourselves, a relationship with someone, the work we do, a cause we care about, etc. Often the thing we focus on is too big for us to deal with in a way that will give us any immediate relief. “If I could just... get a different job, lose a large amount of weight, fix all my relationship issues, push the hold button on my life and sleep until I feel completely refreshed, energized, and all the stress magically goes away!” When we feel overwhelmed by the bigness of our target we feel more overwhelmed and disempowered, so much so that we don’t give any value to the things we have managed to do.


This is the place Laura found herself in, like so many of us, especially right now when so many things feel threatening and we’ve lost so much that we took for granted. But as we talked Laura began to see that she was actually coping far better than she gave herself credit for. She began to open a little space in herself for grace and self acknowledgment. We then moved on to things she could do to help her cope better and feel more empowered.


 As the days since our conversation have passed, I have seen more and more of a need for these suggestions for so many people, so I thought I’d share them here.

grace

The first thing I encourage anyone who are feeling similarly to Laura to do is to . It’s really ok if you don’t feel right inside yourself right now. There is so much  presently that  isn’t right or normal so it’s absolutely appropriate to feel off in some or many ways. We’re all grieving the loss of normalcy right now, but many of us are not acknowledging it because we don’t think we have a right to grieve, or we’re afraid to look at it. But that also means that when you do manage to do anything “normal” you need to give yourself lots of extra credit points. Instead of just thinking that any “everyday stuff” you do is ordinary and just expected, allow yourself to realize that the extra emotional weight we’re all carrying is making everything harder to do. Just acknowledging that can bring some much needed grace and relief. So if you do any of those daily tasks, give yourself credit for it and take a moment and give yourself an emotional high-five.


This brings me to some of the practical suggests we gave Laura:


It can be vital when you’re struggling in some way to keep a “got done” list. While “to-do” lists are very helpful to keep our minds on track, they can often have the side effect of making us feel disempowered when we see that we haven’t accomplished everything that’s on them. So it can be energizing and empowering to keep a list of the things you’ve gotten done as you do them. I’m not talking about just the big things off your to-do list. I’m talking about all those little things we usually think of as distractions from the important stuff. This includes things like: changing the babies diaper, cleaning up the spilled mess, comforting the crying child, spending time on the phone fixing the incorrect charge on the credit card, making and cleaning up lunch, finding your child’s missing shoe, spending twenty minutes stuck in a phone queue dealing with another hassles, sorting the mail, etc., etc., etc.  Our lives have so many of these et ceteras, especially in mom life,  that they can eat up our days and leave us feeling defeated and like we haven’t gotten anything important done. But when we take time to actually write them down and review them at the end of the day we begin to give ourselves credit we deserve. We often have that “Wow! I did that! Good for me” moment.


Making a “got-done list” is particularly helpful because feelings follow actions, not the other way around as we often mistakenly believe. Most of us think that when we feel good, or at least better, we’ll get things accomplished. I think this comes from staying home from school on days we were sick as children. We were trained that when we felt well we would return to normal activities. This is right and good if we are contagious and need time to physically heal. But it is the opposite for emotions, by getting up and doing something, even something small like brushing our teeth, then acknowledging and giving ourselves credit for that something, it’s like putting fuel in our emotional tank. We begin to feel able to do the next small thing and the next until we look at our “got-done” list and realize we’re actually accomplishing quite a lot, we feel good about it, and we think we might be able to do it again tomorrow.


Another thing we encouraged Laura to do is to look at the moments in the day that went well, that she felt good about, and then think about the things that attended (not caused) the positive difference. When we examine the little things that attended our better moments, such as what we or our kids have eaten, the amount of rest we’ve gotten and what allowed us to get it, how much fresh air or sunshine we’ve experienced, the atmosphere we’ve created or experienced in our home environment, we can then intentionally begin to put them into place regularly to our advantage.


Lastly, we encouraged Laura to keep a gratitude journal. Again this is something that is best done throughout the day so that you don’t have to try to remember everything at the end of the day when you’re too exhausted to write anything down anyway. Write down anything you are grateful for in the moment. Nothing is too small. But look especially for little ways you’ve made a positive difference in someone’s life. Things like: I made my baby giggle, I held the door open for a stranger, I got my family's clothes clean, I spent time getting in touch with a friend, whatever it is, write it in your gratitude journal. You will be encouraged and empowered to have a visual record of the ways you’ve done something positive to bless someone else.


Lastly and most importantly invite God unto the midst of it all. He is not waiting for you to be perfect and then reveal it all to him in a big ta-da moment. He wants to embrace all of you - your fears, insecurities, desires, hopes, all of it. He wants to help. Talk to him about it all. Ask for his help and for clarity. Talk to him about it all through the day. Thanking him for the successes, asking for guidance and help as you need it. He loves you and doesn’t want you to go it alone. Take His grace and extend it to yourself.


Laura is an absolute super-hero! But she hasn’t had the time or energy to recognise it. If you are similarly struggling to give yourself credit for doing the best you can during these weird, uncertain, life changing times (or anytime), here is your written permission slip to do so. Give yourself grace.



A couple of weeks ago a woman named Laura called into More2life. She was feeling completely run down, and like she wasn’t enough. She went on to explain that she had a 10 month old daughter who thankfully had overcome medical issues that were present in her first months of life. She and her husband both had to work full time. She also briefly mentioned that she had some medical issues involving her thyroid and hormones. She said that all the additional appointments and everything she has to do is leaving her feeling frustrated with her life and exhausted. But she was feeling guilty for feeling that way. 


As we talked more it occurred to me that not only was she minimizing her own medical concerns, as though she wasn’t important enough to mention them, she also hadn’t even factored in that when her precious baby was 4 months old the world began the pandemic that we’re all still trying to cope with as I write this. In fact when I mentioned it she gave a little “oh, that old thing” kind of laugh. 


As I started to point out everything she has physically and emotionally gone through over the last 19 months, starting with the beginning of pregnancy until now,she actually seemed surprised. We talked about how she hadn’t had time to emotionally process any of it, or physically recover.


Then I told her how I genuinely, deeply felt, that she is a superhero! Far from feeling guilty for needing time to rest, recover, and reorient, she should instead hear that she is AMAZING!!! Amazing for coping as well as she has, for managing to do everything she’s doing every day, for acknowledging that she didn’t feel right inside, for pursuing help. 


It was a wonderful conversation, and Laura cried with relief at what she was hearing. There were factors in play that she hadn’t taken into account. Being overwhelmed caused her to focus solely on what she perceived, wrongly, as her shortcomings.


How often do we each do  something similar? We are awash with stressors of many kinds. We begin to sense our internal alarm bells going off. We desperately want to fix something so it will stop, so we can have relief and peace. But often our stressed out brains decide to fixate on one thing. “If I could only change______, everything else would get better too.”  We might narrow in on our perception of some aspect of ourselves, a relationship with someone, the work we do, a cause we care about, etc. Often the thing we focus on is too big for us to deal with in a way that will give us any immediate relief. “If I could just... get a different job, lose a large amount of weight, fix all my relationship issues, push the hold button on my life and sleep until I feel completely refreshed, energized, and all the stress magically goes away!” When we feel overwhelmed by the bigness of our target we feel more overwhelmed and disempowered, so much so that we don’t give any value to the things we have managed to do.


This is the place Laura found herself in, like so many of us, especially right now when so many things feel threatening and we’ve lost so much that we took for granted. But as we talked Laura began to see that she was actually coping far better than she gave herself credit for. She began to open a little space in herself for grace and self acknowledgment. We then moved on to things she could do to help her cope better and feel more empowered.


 As the days since our conversation have passed, I have seen more and more of a need for these suggestions for so many people, so I thought I’d share them here.


The first thing I encourage anyone who are feeling similarly to Laura to do is to give yourself grace. It’s really ok if you don’t feel right inside yourself right now. There is so much  presently that  isn’t right or normal so it’s absolutely appropriate to feel off in some or many ways. We’re all grieving the loss of normalcy right now, but many of us are not acknowledging it because we don’t think we have a right to grieve, or we’re afraid to look at it. But that also means that when you do manage to do anything “normal” you need to give yourself lots of extra credit points. Instead of just thinking that any “everyday stuff” you do is ordinary and just expected, allow yourself to realize that the extra emotional weight we’re all carrying is making everything harder to do. Just acknowledging that can bring some much needed grace and relief. So if you do any of those daily tasks, give yourself credit for it and take a moment and give yourself an emotional high-five.


This brings me to some of the practical suggests we gave Laura:


It can be vital when you’re struggling in some way to keep a “got done” list. While “to-do” lists are very helpful to keep our minds on track, they can often have the side effect of making us feel disempowered when we see that we haven’t accomplished everything that’s on them. So it can be energizing and empowering to keep a list of the things you’ve gotten done as you do them. I’m not talking about just the big things off your to-do list. I’m talking about all those little things we usually think of as distractions from the important stuff. This includes things like: changing the babies diaper, cleaning up the spilled mess, comforting the crying child, spending time on the phone fixing the incorrect charge on the credit card, making and cleaning up lunch, finding your child’s missing shoe, spending twenty minutes stuck in a phone queue dealing with another hassles, sorting the mail, etc., etc., etc.  Our lives have so many of these et ceteras, especially in mom life,  that they can eat up our days and leave us feeling defeated and like we haven’t gotten anything important done. But when we take time to actually write them down and review them at the end of the day we begin to give ourselves credit we deserve. We often have that “Wow! I did that! Good for me” moment.


Making a “got-done list” is particularly helpful because feelings follow actions, not the other way around as we often mistakenly believe. Most of us think that when we feel good, or at least better, we’ll get things accomplished. I think this comes from staying home from school on days we were sick as children. We were trained that when we felt well we would return to normal activities. This is right and good if we are contagious and need time to physically heal. But it is the opposite for emotions, by getting up and doing something, even something small like brushing our teeth, then acknowledging and giving ourselves credit for that something, it’s like putting fuel in our emotional tank. We begin to feel able to do the next small thing and the next until we look at our “got-done” list and realize we’re actually accomplishing quite a lot, we feel good about it, and we think we might be able to do it again tomorrow.


Another thing we encouraged Laura to do is to look at the moments in the day that went well, that she felt good about, and then think about the things that attended (not caused) the positive difference. When we examine the little things that attended our better moments, such as what we or our kids have eaten, the amount of rest we’ve gotten and what allowed us to get it, how much fresh air or sunshine we’ve experienced, the atmosphere we’ve created or experienced in our home environment, we can then intentionally begin to put them into place regularly to our advantage.


Lastly, we encouraged Laura to keep a gratitude journal. Again this is something that is best done throughout the day so that you don’t have to try to remember everything at the end of the day when you’re too exhausted to write anything down anyway. Write down anything you are grateful for in the moment. Nothing is too small. But look especially for little ways you’ve made a positive difference in someone’s life. Things like: I made my baby giggle, I held the door open for a stranger, I got my family's clothes clean, I spent time getting in touch with a friend, whatever it is, write it in your gratitude journal. You will be encouraged and empowered to have a visual record of the ways you’ve done something positive to bless someone else.


Lastly and most importantly invite God unto the midst of it all. He is not waiting for you to be perfect and then reveal it all to him in a big ta-da moment. He wants to embrace all of you - your fears, insecurities, desires, hopes, all of it. He wants to help. Talk to him about it all. Ask for his help and for clarity. Talk to him about it all through the day. Thanking him for the successes, asking for guidance and help as you need it. He loves you and doesn’t want you to go it alone. Take His grace and extend it to yourself.


Laura is an absolute super-hero! But she hasn’t had the time or energy to recognise it. If you are similarly struggling to give yourself credit for doing the best you can during these weird, uncertain, life changing times (or anytime), here is your written permission slip to do so. Give yourself grace.




If you’d like to hear our call with Laura, as well as the rest of the show you can listen here.

49 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All