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Walking Our Faith: Give yourself grace

Suzanne Anderson
Walking Our Faith
Suzanne Anderson

“Give yourself some grace.” That’s the text reply I received from Natalie after I lamented that in the past three months I have not finished reading any of the books I’ve started, nor finished any of the several knitting projects I’ve started.

I’m trying to take Natalie’s words to heart. Beneath my well mapped out efficiency, with daily written to-do lists and weekly meal plans, I feel a hum of anxiety.

I’m doing all the right things: I get out and take long walks, I eat healthy meals, I go to bed early and take my vitamins. I’ve even ruthlessly minimized my usual unrestrained consumption of cable news and replaced it with more reading.

Despite my best efforts, my attention span isn’t as good as it should be, my listening skills are not great, my mind wanders, and sometimes I lose patience with myself and others. I forget things I’m meant to do and do things I shouldn’t.

I’m not acting like myself or maybe I’m acting like a part of myself I thought I had put away and replaced with someone better.

Yesterday our knitting group met at Milne Park, our first meeting in months. Since the coronavirus began we have been meeting on Zoom every week. For our first in person meeting, we dutifully wore our masks and sat 6 feet apart in chairs that we’d each brought.

Christy had even set up her laptop computer on the picnic table so that Betty and Christie could join us from Illinois and Oregon. I was talking to Laura, while Christy was talking to Christie and Betty, explaining how we were all set up. I snapped and said, “Christy, could you please be quieter?”

 To my horror I watched Christy‘s face crumble. I was so ashamed of myself, I jumped up from my chair, ran over to Christy and hugged her (with my face turned away and cloth mask in place), and said, I am so sorry and then I looked directly into the laptop computer to the astonished faces of Betty and Christie who were asking what happened and I said, “Suzanne is such a jerk.”

And earlier this week, I missed sending greetings in a timely manner for Joyce Mueller‘s 80th birthday and it made me sick to my stomach, because Joyce is one of the most remarkable, beautiful and inspiring women I have met in Breckenridge.

She has faithfully volunteered on a weekly basis at Saint Anthony’s hospital as a chaplain for over seven years. Her words of encouragement have helped to heal so many patients and I missed wishing her a happy birthday. So, I made a short video and sent it to her.

I share these two embarrassing examples not for public self-flagellation, but because I believe that as much as we give ourselves grace, when we say or neglect to do the right things at times, we must quickly make amends and do better. Because grace is a pardon, not an excuse.

I’ve just discovered the book that everyone else has already read, “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy. In an opening passage, the Mole asks, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The Boy replies, “I want to be kind.”

And so do I.

One definition of grace is “unmerited favor,” something God is best at providing each of us, especially when we’re not able to give it to ourselves.  

We all need grace. We need to take better care of ourselves and extend that grace to one another through patience, compassion, gratitude and listening.

We are wearing our masks right now. We’re doing our part to bend the curve on this pandemic. There are moments when we feel isolated and there are other moments when we just want to be left alone and finding that balance is not always easy.

I’m going to continue to do all the stuff that’s good for me. But I’m also going to allow myself to take a nap when I need it and I’m going to feel good about the completion of smaller projects.

But most of all I’m going to make more time for God, because my heart feels a deep longing for his presence, now more than ever. I can do all the right things, but only God can ease my anxiety in a lasting way.

My morning devotions are now being bookended with an online prayer group at 5:15 and nighttime prayers before bed. I’m spending more time reading my Bible and spiritual classics and sitting in silence and listening to God.

I’m giving myself grace for what I’m feeling during this time of national uncertainty and then I will remember that I can trust God to see us through this difficult time and I can trust God to be with us every step of the way.

In turn, I will give grace to others. It feels like we’re walking on egg shells not knowing whether we are opening our communities, or closing them, and always wondering when we will turn the corner. Give yourself grace and share that grace with everyone you meet because we all dearly need it now. Thank you Natalie, for giving me the reminder of grace.

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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