A sweet bouquet of orange and pink blossoms graces my dinner table today. My daughter received the cheery flowers after a ballet performance this weekend and decided to share their splendor with the whole family
Now, each time I glance toward my kitchen, I’m struck by how much one small thing can change the whole atmosphere of a room. My kitchen’s full of neutral colors and a few splashes of blue. So the fresh colors of the bouquet capture my eye every time I step into the room today.
I should buy fresh flowers more often, I muse to myself. It’s such a little thing, but it makes such a big difference in this room.
It doesn’t require a sage or a poet to recognize the deeper truth represented by that bouquet: Little changes can make a big difference. This is true of our lives just as surely as its true of our kitchen tables.
We go through life wrestling with things. None of us escape this. Health problems, parenting questions, work frustrations, chaotic schedules—these are but a few of the concerns that can weigh on us. Throw in our personal shortcomings and fears, and our lives can become painted in colors of doubt and guilt. Anxiety, frustration, or negative self-talk all-too-often become the accent colors of our days.
What we need, I think, are bright bouquets of truth to anchor our days. Reminders of God’s goodness to us in the midst of our flesh-and-blood lives. We should tell remind ourselves of grace more often, dear hearts. It’s such a little thing, but it can make such a big difference in our everyday lives.
I’ve gathered up a few thoughts about grace below: If we speak these truths to ourselves every day, it will make a big change in the atomsphere of our lives. They won’t fix our struggles or change our circumstances. But they can change us. They can help us bring a better, truer version of ourselves to our day. As you read through this list, ask God which of these words of grace you especially need to speak into your life today.
1. God Sees Your Heart
We all long to be known. A simple glance through Instagram or Facebook reveals our desire to be seen and appreciated by others. Hard as we try, though, none of us ever find that perfect husband, or friend, or coworker who really gets us, do we? And if we’re entirely honest, we don’t even fully understand ourselves at times.
So misunderstandings happen. Wrong assumptions get made. People get hurt. And these complicated human dynamics make us cautious, don’t they? As we make our everyday choices, we can’t help but wonder, what will people think? And we worry about being judged or misunderstood.
But there’s One who knows us even better than we know ourselves. He sees every desire and dream. He sees our good intentions and our deep longing to live well. God sees our hearts, even when others can’t—and he cherishes them.
Of course, this cuts both ways doesn’t it? God also knows our faults. Our little idols we can’t quite let out of our white-knuckled clutches. The habits we can’t shake. The countless ways we shave off joy from those around us in moments of weakness. God knows the selfishness hidden in our hearts.
Like little shards of glass scattered across the floor, these sins trip us up and cause damage to our lives. But even in this, God cherishes us, sisters. He’s not standing on the other side with a furrowed brow, waiting for us to fix ourselves before we can experience his love. You know where he stands? Right there with us in the brokenness—his bloodied feet treading the shards right beside ours.
God won’t ignore the sin: He wants us to be healthy and whole. But he also sees more than the sin: He sees what we want to change. How we ache with the weight of our own weakness. How even when we don’t want to let go of our sins, we want to want to. He sees the good intentions mixed up with the bad. And he sees what we can become.
And he loves the whole messy thing.
Maybe your heart is heavy with the weight of feeling misunderstood or wounded by others. Maybe it’s just heavy with the weight of bad choices self-inflicted wounds. Remember this, dear sister: God knows your heart—and counts it as treasure.
2. You are Enough
I feel like a broken record, sometimes, typing out those words: You are Enough. But in this world that’s constantly telling me how to do things better or bigger or more, those words feed my heart like oxygen.
When I fret about the fact that I can’t help at school this week because my calendar is already full, I need the whisper You are enough. When I see how my personality makes me a less-than-perfect parent, I need to remember You are enough. Again and again and again, when the devil would tempt me to believe that I have to fix every problem or constantly prove my worth, I must let God’s truth wash over me: You are enough.
Or perhaps the truer words might be, you are enough with God. Because certainly, as a broken person living in broken circumstances, I will never be enough for anyone. I cannot fix every problem, bear every burden, or meet every need. That’s God’s description, not my own.
But if I’m faithful to what God calls me to each day, it’s enough. And God will take up my little “enough” and weave it together with others to carry out his redemptive work in this world. It’s a beautiful picture, isn’t it? When I can’t be “enough” for every person I love, I can trust God will provide enough through the part of others.
We don’t have to do it all perfectly, and we don’t have to do it right away in order for God to work through the efforts. We are works in progress: So why do we so often hold ourselves to the standard of a finished masterpieces?
It’s okay to still be learning. To be waiting. To carry ideas and hopes that aren’t yet fulfilled. It doesn’t mean we’re not enough—or that we must force those dreams into reality today. Sometimes God gives us seeds that aren’t quite ready to germinate, and it is enough to simply let them be planted in our hearts. Sometimes our “enough” is to simply trust the timing to God.
Work hard. Listen for the voice of Jesus. Love others as best as you can. But don’t do it to prove your worth, dear sister. Do it because it’s who God called you to be. And it’s enough.
3. Let Go of the “Shoulds”
How often do your days pass with a cloud of “shoulds” hanging over you? I should be doing this. I should take care of that. I should offer to help here. I should get involved there . . .
“Should” steals joy from our lives, friends. It tries to fuel our work with guilt—but guilt makes a pretty lousy motivator. And if guilt’s the only motivator for much of your everyday activity, it might be time to give yourself some grace —and realize that “should” feeling is not always legitimate.
Sometimes the things we “should” do aren’t things we’re actually called to do at all. Sometimes they’re unrealistic requests from others who don’t know really know our hearts or our calling. Sometimes they’re unrealistic expectations that got slipped into the backpack of our everyday lives without us even noticing. Sometimes that “should” feeling is just a distraction from the enemy who wants to pull us away from God.
All too often, the “shoulds” are coming from outside ourselves, not from God’s voice within. All those things you feel pressured to do and expectations you’re trying to live up to? Are they the things God has called you to do? Or have they been foisted upon you by others who’ve drowned out his voice?
Maybe the answer to that question may feels murky. We can get so busy trying to do everything that we don’t feel any certainty about what God actually wants. So we just do it all, and grow exhausted and resentful in the process. If you’ve lost that sense of God’s still small voice—if you’re lost in a whirlwind of “shoulds” and don’t see a way out, can I make a suggestion? Stop and rest. Stop letting “should” guide you and take the time to re-connect with God.
There’s a crucial difference between trying to do everything for God and learning how to live life with God. The first path fills life with shoulds—and leaves us tired and confused by the voices around us. The second path leads to clarity—a life of peace about who God made us to be and what He calls us to do.
And God will call us to work; people to care for, tasks to complete, spiritual growth to tend in our hearts. But these are so much more than shoulds. They’re a privilege and a calling entrusted to us by the King of the universe. If we can keep our eyes on that reality, we can move past the guilt to see the good and beautiful work God has called us to do.
4. You Are More Than Your Weaknesses
You look ridiculous in that dress. Why do you keep making the same stupid mistake? You’ll never have what it takes. How often do barbs like this pierce your heart—when the one shooting the arrow is yourself?
It’s human nature to hide our mishaps and mistakes from others. But in the privacy of our own minds, we’re usually painfully aware of how we fall short. The personality shortcomings that make us struggle in relationships. The imperfections that keep us from achieving our goals. Some of us note these problems with the precision of a drill sergeant—and beat ourselves up over them, repeatedly.
Dear friend, would you ever be so unkind to someone else? Would you ever belittle her for her every error? Or refuse to love her because she has a few quirks? Of course not! We recoil at the idea of being so vicious toward others. Instead, we offer forgiveness and understanding when other’s fall a little short. We offer some encouragement to help them move forward with dignity.
Maybe it’s time to start treating yourself with the same grace, dear heart.
I suspect that God gets less hung up about our weaknesses than we do. We look in the mirror and zero in on the imperfections. In our everyday musings, we tend to focus on our mistakes.
Far too often, we let our hearts believe that our weaknesses are the sum total of who we are.
God has different eyes, probing past the dents and scratches to the woman he created. He sees the gifts and passions he’s placed in your heart. He notices the talents and sacrifices that might not get much praise or attention from the world. Treating others with kindness, bringing laughter to a friend, helping a child with homework —these may be small gestures, but they reveal an inner strength and beauty so often missing in our world.
We all have weaknesses, friends. Shortcomings in talent or personality But that’s not all we are. Maybe it’s time for fresh eyes. Maybe it’s time to start offering that girl in the mirror a little more grace and encouragement. She’s more than her weaknessses. She’s a person created by a master’s hand.
5. It’s Okay to Ask For Help
When a child falls in front of you, what is your first response? I’d guess that most of us would immediately check the child for harm and help to lift them back up. It is, perhaps, one of the most striking ways we carry God’s image around—this instinct to help someone in pain.
But here’s a different side of the same question: When you take a fall, what is your first impulse? For so many of us, it’s to hide the pain and try to pick ourselves back up. We don’t want to be a bother. We don’t want to shirk our duties or let others down. So we grit our teeth and push forward—through physical pain, spiritual doubt, emotional struggle, and countless other hardships. We live as though the path of self-reliance is the noble way.
But is it?
We all get sick at times. We face limitations in our circumstances, personalities, and gifts. We get hit by unexpected storms. Sometimes we need help carrying these loads. That doesn’t make us a burden. It just makes us human.
Whether it’s a brutal head cold that attacks us, an ongoing struggle with anxiety, or festering emotional wounds, God doesn’t ask us to bear the brunt of these challenges alone. And it’s not really noble to do so—because it hides who we really are. It doesn’t allow others to see us, or love us, or offer us God’s grace.
It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to admit you aren’t strong enough to carry the whole load. Maybe the first step? Ask God for help: Ask him to show you who might be available to lend a helping hand or give us guidance.
It’s not complaining to admit when you’re exhausted or hurting. And it’s not whining to share the doubts or worries that plague your heart. In the economy of God’s Kingdom, our moments of deficit become an opportunity for others to shine in sharing their gifts and encouragement with us. This doesn’t make us weak, friends: It just makes us stronger–together.
Next time you take a fall, consider treating yourself the way you would treat a fallen friend: Give yourself the grace to look for a helping hand.
6. You’re Stronger Than You Know
Does this great big bustling world ever make you feel rather small? So many people accomplish such impressive things. We hear about them constantly–on social media and new outlets, in sermons and books.
Do you ever wonder Why doesn’t anything like that happen for me? And do you ever feel the doubt that slides in right next to it: Maybe I just don’t have what it takes.
Sometimes we feel like we’ll never quite measure up. That we just don’t have the same faith–or talent–or power that everyone else seems to have. We can get so stuck on these anxieties, fears, and questions that we make ourselves small and weak.
The reality? There’s a strong and unshakable reality called the Kingdom of God, holding the universe together. And we’re a part of it. Our lives may seem insignificant at times, but they are part of a Bigger Story. And the Author assures us that every part matters: Not one small act of obedience will be wasted.
Most of us live simple, ordinary lives. We don’t accomplish feats that land us in headlines or earn numerous awards. But that doesn’t make us weak or insignificant. That doesn’t mean we’re not strong.
Our power is in our love, our self-discipline, our little everyday moments of obedience. These things rarely lead to extraordinary outcomes on the world’s terms does not mean that we are weak or ineffective. They are all threads in the spectacular fabric of God’s plan.
And when we feel overwhelmed? When we feel weak and incapable and tired? We have access to a higher power, friends. We have God’s Spirit living within. And this is no timid presence: God’s Spirit may be quiet and subtle, but it does not sit idly in our hearts.
God’s Spirit intercedes for us. The Spirit brings wisdom and truth to our minds at opportune times. The Spirit gives us the courage or discipline or peace we lack—if we’ll just admit that we need the help.
But you’re so much stronger than you know, sister.
Next time you’re feeling weak or small or overwhelmed, look at where you’re standing: It’s the firm and unshakable ground of God’s Kingdom. And remember what you carry in your heart—the presence and power of its’ King.
Sometimes the words we most need to tell ourselves? No words at all.
It’s so easy to get stuck inside our own heads. Stewing over mistakes. Wondering about the future. Fretting over relationships or trying to guess what other people think. We make a universe out of our own tiny minds. But this headspace can easily fill up with corrupted thoughts. Lies creep in and we make mistaken assumptions—and we can’t see them because we’re blinded by our own light.
Sometimes we’d do better to stop speaking. Stop asking. Stop trying to control. Stop tossing problems around and around in our heads.
And then listen for a wiser voice than our own.
What is God saying in the silence? What truth might he point to if you simply quieted your heart? What might you glean from a simple glance out the window? A walk? A 10-minute minute nap?
What is he saying in the song you listen to? Or the verse you just read? What does he want you to discover from that conversation you just had with a friend?
Maybe it’s time to ask God for a renewal of the mind, a quieting of all that’s spinning inside it. Maybe the word of grace your heart needs to hear right now is no words at all. Because God’s wisdom is waiting for you in the silence.