I tend to be a perfectionist. That’s right, I said it. I like things a certain way and while I’ve become more laid back over the years, certain things remain important to me. I like things to be communicated clearly. I want defined expectations and delegated responsibilities. When someone (be that someone me or another person) says they will do something, I expect it to be done.

That sometimes means that I have had difficulty extending grace, mostly to myself but also to others. There was never room in my life for failure. Then I had children. Having children cured me of my need to be perfect and settle for functional. But with it came a whole new set of requirements, standards I felt that I couldn’t possibly meet. It took me probably until just a few months ago to extend myself some grace.

I’ve gotten pretty good at extending grace to others, especially other moms. Because I’ve been there. I’ve been deep in the trenches over motherhood with the muck and mire and piles of laundry so tall you no longer can tell if it’s clean or dirty. The late nights that fade into morning with no rest and little hope. So when another mom says she can’t be there or do that, I get it. I’m OK with it most of the time. But the more grace I extend to others the more I seem to expect of myself. After all, someone has to do the things that need to be done. I’m always asking myself, “If not me, then who?” I see the needs around me and I want to meet them. I feel guilty that I enjoy knitting and watching Big Bang Theory when I should be working to end human trafficking. But you know what? There is grace for me too. Not to perpetuate laziness or give myself a pass, but grace to see who I am and what I’m called to be.

I don’t have to be everything to everyone. I don’t have to be perfect, in fact I can’t be. None of us can. I can only do what I’m called to. Now, deciding what I’m called it can be a whole other topic and quite a messy business. But on a most basic level there are some things I already know I’m called to. I am a wife, a mother, a writer. Those things are part of me. I am called to dance, to teach my children, to learn continually. To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God. Humility means recognizing where I fall short and where I need to challenge myself more. But also realizing where I must decrease and He must increase. Grace is an essential part of that.

May I better learn to extend grace to all men and women, myself included.