The Grace We Can’t Give Ourselves

I don’t usually write “Response” posts to things that are immediately happening in my life, but I’m going to today.
Maybe because my filter has been rubbed thin by the weight of my own pain.

Maybe because this is an issue that I struggle with myself.

But here it goes.

I started homeschooling last week. Today is actually our 5th day of homeschooling.

And it sucks.

I hate it.

I may not hate it in the future but I hate it now. #TrueConfessions

It is 2:10pm and we are done for today (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing a blog post) and we completed our whole day of school, which included Math, Language Arts, Science, Writing, Handwriting, and Reading aloud.

But at 10am, when we took our 30 minute morning break, I wanted to just crawl in bed and cry.

Since I have no adults to talk to during the day, I posted this FB status:

It’s only 10am and I want to cry. Could seriously use some prayer.
#Homeschooling #SoStressedOut #IHaveNoPatience #JesusHelp

This status was borne purely out of desperation. What I wanted and needed at that moment was encouragement, sympathy, and prayers.

And I got all three from many, many friends. Thank you.

I also got a ton of advice comments from people: books I should read, new curriculum I look into, friends telling me how I should feel or not feel, etc.

Everyone meant well (except for the people who started a debate about unschooling in a thread. Yes. This happened. Help me, Jesus.).

Everyone meant well, and I’m grateful.

But the advice.
All the advice made me feel more overwhelmed because here were ALL THE THINGS I need to TRY, DO, READ, FEEL, and NOT FEEL!

The advice just reminded me that I am not good enough because clearly, I need to do something different and then things would be better/easier/less stressful.
I do this too. All the time.

I want to fix things for my loved ones and friends.
When my 5 year old son is crying, I want to help him feel better and STOP CRYING so I do ALL THE THINGS to try to help him stop.
When my 10 year old is upset about his day, I ask him “Well, did you try this? Or this? You should have done that!”

It’s our human nature to give advice, to strive to make it better, to fix the pain in any way possible.

It’s really, really hard to sit with someone in their pain, to hug without words, to weep with someone who is weeping, to soothe without platitudes or proverbs or to-do lists.

One of my friends urged me to give myself grace, which is a beautiful reminder that I often give to my other mom friends.

But I was struck by a new truth today as I struggled with my own frustration, limitations, helplessness and impatience in this new homeschooling venture: When you are in pain, it is difficult (if not impossible) to give grace to yourself.

That’s why we look for it outside of ourselves: in God, in others.

We need that free gift of tender mercy that soothes the ragged edges of our failures and builds us back up again to try again and again.

It’s easy to be an advice-giver.
It’s much more difficult to be a grace-giver.

But when we have received grace, we know what that feels like. May we take that gift and share it with others who are in pain in the future, striving to weep with those who weep, seeking to encourage instead of fix.


  1. Anonymous

    Love this! I posted a similar status this very same morning. Surgery was scheduled for my youngest to have tubes. A month long hoopla of scheduling and figuring out how the heck we would pay. We got there so early and rearranged my husbands work schedule. And like some idiot I let my child eat breakfast. Rookie mistake. Got all the way back into the surgery area and had to turn around and go home. So embarrassing and just felt like a heap of a failure and I posted a status because nothing could fix it I just wanted to know people wouldn’t think what I was thinking, that I am a horrible no-good mother who is not on top of it. GRACE is what we need but you are so right. It’s not going to come from ourselves. We are too hard on ourselves because we want to be all the things to all the people. You are enough, I am enough and today sucks but tomorrow can be better. And if it’s not you have GRACE for that day too 🙂

  2. Alecia

    Love this! I posted a similar Facebook status this morning. My youngest was scheduled to have surgery for tubes this morning. It was a month long hoopla of scheduling and figuring out how we would pay. We got there so early and my husband even rearranged his work schedule to be there. And, like an idiot I fed my child breakfast. Rookie mistake. We made it all the way back to the surgery area and had to turn around and go home. It was so embarrassing and I just felt like a heap of a failure. There was nothing that could fix it so I just posted a status because I wanted to know, in that moment, that others didn’t think of me what I was thinking about myself. That I am a horrible no-good mother who isn’t on top of it. GRACE is what we need but we aren’t going to give it to ourselves because we want to be all the things to all the people. But you are enough, I am enough and today just sucks. Tomorrow will be better, and if it’s not we have GRACE for that day too 🙂

    • Alecia, I am sorry you couldn’t do the surgery. That sucks, especially with all the stress and build up. I hope you can get it rescheduled soon. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment and offer consolation. I hope tomorrow is better for both of us.

  3. Jeanette S. Hall

    If you are able (I am wheelchair bound now, so can not any more, stand up, stretch your arms up as high as you can reach, then stretch them out to both of your sides. You are now a LIVING CROSS!

    Think about that for a while. You a mere human represent our Savior in human form. He struggled with his calling, why can’t you?

I'd love to hear your story!