Grace, Please

I suffer from excellent self-esteem. Really, it's a problem.

I believe that there are 2 Kates:  The Real Kate, and The Kate In Pictures who, unfortunately, is sorely misrepresented.  I don't imagine myself to be Kim Kardashian-caliber-hot, I'm just always giving myself the benefit of the doubt.  I'm naturally inclined to believe that my clothes are fitting awesomely, not awkwardly; my hair is falling fabulously, not flatly; and that everyone thinks that I'm way too young and hip-looking to be a mother of two, like the lady in the minivan commercials.

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I have been fortunate enough to live virtually every day of my life feeling remarkably, confidently, okay with myself.

Until last month.

In case you missed it, I am living in a college town.  I'm also three months pregnant with my third child.

I'm just going to throw this out there:  Big sweeping life-change + first trimester hormones doesn't bring out the best in people.  Or at least it hasn't brought out the best in me.

If I'm being very honest, the last place my tired, harried, frumpily-dressed pregnant self wants to be is in a town full of college girls jogging around in their Nike shorts.

I believe that rock bottom occurred the other day as Dan was walking out the door to work.  I caught him, and with tears in my eyes I begged,

"If you see a girl who is skinnier or prettier than me, remember that I am carrying your child.  Remember that I've carried all your children.  And that I'm smart, and I write, and that I love Jesus a whole lot.  Remember that you love me.  Okay?"

Yikes.

I am in such desperate, desperate need of grace.

I need grace because recently, I'm not the Kate that my husband signed up for.  She is joyful, magnetic and the victim of chronically excellent self-esteem - and she is lost somewhere inside of me.

I need grace because I'm myopic, weepy, and self-absorbed.

I need grace because my dishwasher is broken, giving me the pathetic excuse I need not to cook anything, ever.

I need grace because I can't keep my eyes open after 2:00pm.

I need grace because I have absolutely no interest in making friends, finding the library (or post office, playground, or coffee shop), the internet, writing, or emptying the last 5 boxes.

 This week I've personally asked each of my family members for grace, out-loud: "Madeline, will you please show Mommy a little extra grace today?"

I know that I need God's grace indefinitely, like air - but I need people's grace too, and that is much harder to swallow.   We all need God's grace because we all need forgiveness and purpose and love and stuff.  It's very clean cut.

Needing grace from people is trickier because it bucks against my natural inclination to think that I'm irresistibly likeable.

Shauna Niequist wrote in Bittersweet,

"I hate to think about the fact that the people who love me show me grace for all my faults.  I prefer to believe instead that the math works: that there are good things about me and hard things about me, but that they’ve checked the math and because I’m funny enough, they can let go of how terrible I look most days, or that if I’m interesting enough, the fact that my house is dirty isn’t such a big deal.  But that kind of math is specifically anti-grace.  Grace isn’t about netting out on the right side of things."

I'm not sure that I've ever netted out on the right side of things, but this month I'm so far in the red that the only way out is to file for emotional, relational bankruptcy.  I need grace.

Years and years ago, I was talking to my most wonderful Aunt Mary about marriage.  She recounted to me a time she'd said something snide about another person, and about the way her husband looked at her - caught completely off guard.  She said, "I'll never forget the way I felt; it was the first time he'd seen how ugly I could be."  She went on to say that her husband's love for her was bigger than her own ugliness in that moment; that he showed her grace.

I am humbled and thankful to say that my husband's love, too, is bigger than my ugliness, and that he has shown me grace.

Please, decide to be a giver and a receiver of grace today; we all need it like crazy.