Uh oh – I was going to be late for my tennis match! Although I’d gotten up at my usual 5 a.m., I’d somehow managed to keep finding “just one more thing” to accomplish around the house until my launch countdown had dwindled to the minus column. (Do you find that the more time you have, the later you are? Or is it just me? )
I grabbed my tennis bag, rackets (always take an extra in case you break a string!), and water bottle as I flew out the door and into my car. Thankfully the traffic was light for a Saturday so I was able to cover the 40-minute drive to the neighboring city with no troubles. This was a league match, which meant it officially counted. If I was late, a forfeit would majorly let my teammates down … and we were in contention for first place.
Arriving at the tennis facility, I jumped out of the car. Something felt … wrong. I looked down. Gasp!
“OH NO! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” the snarky voice inside my head screamed.
My feet, which should have been shod with appropriate tennis socks and shoes, were clad in my house flops. I’d forgotten to change my shoes!
I had no idea what to do – there were no stores anywhere nearby to rush over and buy a pair; it was too far to go back home and return by the starting time. My teammates were already on the courts warming up. I felt the blood drain right out of my brain. Deer in headlights. I had really messed up this time.
My team captain’s smile turned upside down when I flip flopped onto her tennis court with my faux pas. She immediately called all the girls over for a strategizing pow-wow. Thankfully, one of them had an extra pair of tennies and socks in her car – and amazingly enough, they were just my size.
Problem solved, right?
But you know what? Although my forgetfulness was redeemed, I just couldn’t let my stupisity (why isn’t that a word?) go. For the rest of that day and several more to come, I kept beating myself up over my dumb mistake. That head-shaking, what-was-I-thinking, self-depreciating feeling of inadequacy lingered, despite my efforts to just get over it.
Then a blog post on the GraceforMoms.com site I follow suggested to “have grace with yourself.” Actually, the post was about the trials of motherhood and it only mentioned this phrase in passing, but the words jumped off my computer screen as if emblazoned in neon.
As is His M.O., Papa God was sending me a private message embedded within my everyday. Just like He often does to you, too. The trouble is that we sometimes either overlook the embedded message or choose to not decode it. So we naively putter along thinking the Almighty is off solving a famine somewhere and we’re doing this life thing on our own.
But not this time. I got it. Message received.
Have grace with yourself.
Why is it that extending grace to others is often easier than offering it to ourselves? Maybe it’s worse for those of us who lean toward the do-it-right-the-first-time viewpoint of self-behavior. Which I seem to. (Hey, I refuse to call myself a perfectionist!)
Grace = getting what you don’t deserve.
Everybody screws up; it’s part of the human download. But Papa God gives grace to us every single time, no matter how grievously we’ve erred or how awful the consequences we bring on ourselves or others. He offers us grace so that we can receive the accompanying delete and reboot. And so that we can offer forgiveness and a fresh start to others. Even ourselves. My heart knew that, but my head just had to apply it.
So I’m okay with myself now. Me, myself and I are friends again. I can actually laugh about my forgetfulness (which sure seems to be happening a lot more often these days as I approach the big 6-0!). That’s grace.
And if you ever need an extra pair of tennies, just ask. I have a whole pile of ’em in my trunk.