Why I will no longer forgive myself

Find forgiveness | no longer forgive myself | grace | healing

Yep, you read that right. I will no longer “forgive myself.” I will no longer “give myself grace.” No, I haven’t embraced some radical legalism or harsh perfectionism. I’ve just come to terms with the fact that it’s impossible. It sounds good, and I’ve read countless “motherhood” articles, many of them truly inspiring, that tell me the cure to “mommy guilt” or any guilt is to forgive myself, that the cure to exhausting perfectionism is to give myself the grace to fail. At times, I’m pretty sure I’ve been guilty of saying the same things.

But as I’ve been journaling through Ephesians, I’ve come to realize just how defeating and impossible this can be. Oh, I understand what we mean when we use these phrases, and I agree that we should stop beating ourselves up and placing unrealistic expectations of perfection on ourselves. However, the answer is not to forgive myself or to give myself grace. Let me explain the journey I’ve been on, the reason I’m no longer using these phrases.

Why I can’t and won’t be forgiving myself any longer

1. It’s not my place. When I attempt to forgive myself or offer grace to myself, I am putting myself above God, as if what He has to offer is not enough. It’s not enough that God has forgiven me, I need to forgive myself. His sufficient grace is not quite sufficient; I need to pitch in and give myself some grace. Again, I know what we intend when we make these statements, but I’m just realizing how terribly wrong we are. Only God’s forgiveness matters: I need to accept His forgiveness. Only His grace is sufficient: I need to receive His grace.

2. It’s not in my power. The only one who can forgive is the one who has been wronged. In other words, I can’t forgive myself unless I’ve wronged myself. But that isn’t the case; it doesn’t even make sense. Instead, I’ve wronged others and/or I’ve wronged God Himself. In both instances, forgiveness happens out of the abundance of God’s forgiveness through Christ. Sometimes it’s tough to accept the forgiveness of God or others. Sometimes we feel as though we need to punish ourselves, to feel that guilt for what we have done. But that’s a lie! Christ has already suffered for that sin. Was His suffering not enough? Was it incomplete somehow? I need to, instead, accept the forgiveness freely given to me and not feel as though I need to prove myself or earn it in some way.

3. It’s not possible. Bottom line. I don’t have the resources or the ability to extend grace or forgiveness to myself; it’s not mine to allocate to myself. As I’ve studied Ephesians 1, this keeps jumping out to me. Over and over God is described as rich in grace, rich in mercy. In Christ, we have access to all the treasures of heaven. My role is not to ration it out to others and be sure to save enough back for myself. No! You don’t ration boundless, endless wealth. In and of myself, I have no grace to give to myself. And why would I take any credit for the boundless grace God has given? I don’t need to give myself grace. I need to receive His.

Find forgiveness | no longer forgive myself | grace | healing |

Why am I making such a big deal about this?

Because when I use these words, I’m taking credit for God’s work. When I use these word, I rob God of His glory. And because when I use these words, I continue the endless cycle of helpless guilt this creates in my life. I’m already feeling regret and shame over all the ways I’ve fallen short. If only I could forgive myself. But how do I do this? Are there magic words I utter or a ceremony I go through? Is it a feeling I conjure up? Do you see? I’ve set myself up for yet another failure. Now, I can’t even forgive myself.

But if I look at this Biblically, the gift is already given. The Bible lays out a clear path to receive this grace and forgiveness. And it’s simple. Ask and you will receive. On my worst day, I can manage that. Not because of my inner strength and grit, but because my God is the Giver of all good gifts. He’s a good, good Father.

So will you join with me? Together, let’s decide to do this right. Let’s commit together that we will no longer forgive ourselves and instead receive the riches of what God has given to us.

3 tips to brighten your homeschool blues

ideas to recharge | homeschool blues | homeschool discouragement |

January and February are the toughest months to homeschool. Just about everyone will tell you that. I’m not sure if it’s holiday hangover or the dreary winter weather or just the fact that the newness has worn off. Whatever it is, the “homeschool blues” are in full swing this time of year. If that’s you, you are not alone. 

Our first week back to school at the beginning of the month was rough. After a month off, no one was really feeling like buckling back into the structure of daily school, least of all me. But each week, it’s gotten progressively better. My daughter’s dyslexia gave us some major challenges in that first week, but a few adjustments had her motivated and excited again. So, how do I battle the homeschool blues when they hit?

Here are a few ideas to recharge your year and get back on track.

3 tips to brighten your homeschool blues

  • Recharge with something new. Add a new subject or unity study. Purchase some fresh school supplies, even if it’s just fresh crayons or a new notebook. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or expensive, but adding anything new gives you all something to be excited about. For my daughter, I picked up a couple of new dyslexia apps for her to use and a new pack of colored pencils. She’s raring to go now. That’s all it took. Other years, I’ve purchased new binders and organizing supplies. Work within your budget, but just a little spark can add a lot of energy.
  • Bring back an oldie-but-goodie. Pull out a favorite book you haven’t read together in a while. Play a favorite game, educational or not. Spread a favorite blanket on the floor and do school on it. Take your school work to a favorite location you haven’t been to in a while. Take advantage of those fond memories. The energy connected with that fun memory can recharge everyone as you make new memories.
  • Shake things up. Don’t make this harder than it has to be. Maybe you need a new schedule or a new order of doing things. Maybe you just plan to do a few things “out of the norm” for you: a pajama day, backwards day, or star wars day. Let them dress up and do school as their favorite superhero or sports figure. Have a tea party for reading time and play legos for history. I think a lot of the “blues” comes from just needing to air out. Change the scenery. Do school at your local library one day, or at Barnes and Noble, or at the mall Food Court. Anything to surprise your kids and add a sense of adventure.

And here’s a bonus: do something that recharges you!  “Secure your oxygen mask before assisting others”—kind of thing. This is not the same for all of us. I can tell you how I recharge, but that may do absolutely nothing for you. Maybe cleaning and organizing your school area will do the trick. Add a new Bible study, exercise routine, or arts & crafts time. Or perhaps, schedule some time alone with a cup of coffee and a good book at Barnes and Noble. In other words, let’s take care of ourselves. We can’t fill cups from an empty pitcher.

In my small group at church, we are going through Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study, and I’m journaling through Ephesians. I’m reading Uninvited by Lisa Terkheurst (my favorite author) and Craving Connections by (in)courage. And I write. Writing is therapeutic for me. I write to empty my head and shush those thousands of voices. But I’m muddling through, too. My dishes are behind, I just finally put away Christmas, and there’s a thick layer of dust and dog hair on everything it seems. I’m behind in so many areas of life. I’ve survived the holidays with no energy left for this next lap. But I know one thing: it get’s better. Yes, this lap is hard, but I’ve pushed through before and the sun does shine again. The energy does return. In the meantime, God’s strength and grace is sufficient, if I’m willing to receive it.

Hang in there, friend. If you are already feeling discouraged and burned out, don’t make recharging your homeschool something intimidating or overwhelming. Pick a few small changes to bring a little sunshine back to your day. Just a little light can go along way in brightening those homeschool blues.

Silencing Fears (& 4 Scriptures for battling a fear of man)

fear | Scripture verses for battling fear of man

Sometimes, I have to go back and reread my own posts, take my own advice, relearn what I’ve already learned. The new year is definitely a time for that. Believe it or not, January through February is my time to doubt everything we are doing.

Is our history as effective as it could be?

Am I doing a good enough job with science or writing or math?

Would the kids benefit from doing this or that differently?

Maybe what we’re doing isn’t best.

And while some self-evaluation is healthy, I often succumb to a lot of unhealthy fears, mostly an enormous “fear of man.”

  • a fear that my kids will become discouraged or will suddenly dislike learning
  • a fear that they won’t know what other kids know (like the scientific method or the Pledge of Allegiance)
  • a fear of what others will think of my kids or me or homeschooling in general

And on those days, when I feel like I’m living in a Dr. Seuss illustration with my doubts looming in monster-like form, I remind myself that the fear of man is a snare, and I work through my battle plan for escape.

4 Scriptures for battling the fear of man

  1. “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25 ESV) Whoever trusts in the Lord is safe—what a promise! I’m safe from fear, from guilt, from the snare of comparison and from needing approval. When I’m trusting in Him, His is the only approval that matters.
  2. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10 ESV) In my moments of fear, I need a quick reminder about who it is I’m living my life for. I’m not living my life for the grocery store cashier or the person in the waiting room quizzing my kids on their multiplication facts. I live my life and raise my kids before Christ alone.
  3. “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4 ESV) This is one of my all-time favorites: only God defines my faithfulness. Only He sets the standard. Only He determines my success.
  4. “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV) The end of the matter—don’t we just need to hear that, in the midst of those loud voices of disapproval in our hearts? This is the end of the matter. Period. My whole duty summed up in one verse: fear God alone. He is the only opinion that matters.

I also pray for wisdom—and grace—and direction—and a huge red light if I need to stop or a huge green light if I’m okay. And then? Then, I make breakfast, pour a cup of coffee, write in my planner, and the day starts once more with my Dr. Seuss monsters shut tight in their respective cages, for the time being.

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