This world is in a desperate need for grace. We are so hard on ourselves and hard on each other. I see this at every stage of life. Not to imply that men have it easy, but women have a lot to live up to, even as small children. It’s assumed or expected that we act a certain way or hold our preferences or priorities in a certain order. We have things like beauty, brilliance, strength, family, career, and love all defined for us. We are taught how to attain these things. And at every turn, we are questioned or we question ourselves.
Our own insecurities can very well blind us to the potential of amazing opportunities, not just in life but also in relationship. We fight over boys in high school. We fight over babies and how to raise them when we get older. And never for a moment do we remove the hurt feelings long enough to remove the preconceived labels we are placing on one another.
Navigating life is hard. But in my brief time on this earth, I have found some things that have really helped me, so I thought I would share them with you. Take them as you will.
- Be careful when you share your opinion, especially on social media, but also in life offline. If you must share your opinion, ask yourself, “Do I know this person enough (and vice versa) that they will understand that the place I am coming from is only love?” One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Philippians 2:3 – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves”. Make sure you have the foundational relationship with that person to share what is on your heart, and always share it with humility.
- On the flip side, don’t take others’ advice personally. You will never completely avoid the unsolicited advice of others. Last year, after the miscarriage, I heard some of the craziest pieces of advice from complete strangers. I reminded myself that they are showing me just how invested I may want to be in furthering this relationship to a deeper level. You don’t have control over their action, but you definitely have control over your own reaction. Wait for the ball to be in your court, and then do your best to answer with empathy, even if they didn’t.
- Always, always, in both of the above situations, extend grace to the other person. You have no idea what they are going through, or where they have been. I truly believe that God calls us to have relationships built on acceptance and grace because I think this will make a profound impact on the world around us. If we surround ourselves with like individuals, we may not have a chance to grow. If we build walls with labels, we may lose an opportunity to glorify God in that relationship. Accept people where they are.
- Extend grace to yourself. No one has been in your exact situation with your exact challenges and opportunities. You are unique, so of course not everything will work the same as what worked for someone else. Instead of viewing things as failures, look at them as opportunities to allow God to let you move in a way you probably couldn’t have before.
- Accept the grace of God to move through you. Of course, none of this is possible without God. Having God in your life doesn’t make your relationships perfect, either, but I find that relationships are so much better when God is in the center of them. Asking for help from Him can give you peace, but fair warning, if you ask for God to work in a relationship, be prepared for possible uncomfortable, humbling moments as well.
Life comes at us hard and fast. I truly believe to God created relationships and friendships to help us overcome these hard times. Be the kind of friend you want to have. Listen more than speak. And again, always, always let God lead.