Extending grace seems like a fairly simple task. It just means being nice…right? Well, not exactly. You see, extending grace to others (and to ourselves) is about a lot more than just being nice.
If you asked someone to describe your character in 3 words, what words would they choose? You might be hoping for words like hardworking, intelligent, and kind or enthusiastic, friendly, and gentle. But, as I began contemplating this series, three words circulated through my mind nonstop…grace, love, and humility.
As I started to write, it became apparent to me why I couldn’t get away from these three words. I realized they aren’t just words…they are so much deeper than that.
These overarching qualities govern our actions, and can bring forth other amazing characteristics like kindness, gentleness, and generosity. However, we have to own them and choose to extend them to others and ourselves. In other words, grace, love, and humility are attainable, but we have to consciously choose them.
So, my question is, do you want to exhibit these qualities?
If you’re like me, you might be afraid to say yes because you know you’ll have to assess some things you might not want to admit. As I am writing this post, I’m nervous about what things are going to be revealed to me. But, pleading ignorance will not make us better teachers, homeschoolers, or mamas. Today, let’s find the courage to face our fears, and learn how extending grace to ourselves and others is essential.
What do you think of when you hear the word grace? When I hear it, I instinctively think of bowing my head for prayer before I eat. While that is one definition, the grace I’m talking about, as my pastor always defines it, is “unmerited favor,” or “getting what you don’t deserve.” You might be thinking, “What in the world does that mean?” Well, let me illustrate this for you.
Several weeks ago, my boys were downstairs playing in our basement and my younger son accidentally knocked over a pot containing apple tree seedlings. To say he was devastated would be an understatement. He’s very tenderhearted, and he was so upset about breaking the four tiny plants. No amount of encouragement from me would console him.
He decided he should have a punishment for what he did. He wanted me to take away all of his time allotted for electronics. And trust me when I tell you this was a very harsh punishment for him to issue because of his love affair with the IPAD and XBOX.
As I talked with my son, I extended him grace and explained that his accident didn’t warrant a removal of electronics. It was simply an accident, and accidents happen. Could I have executed an unnecessary punishment for his actions? Sure, but he didn’t need that. He needed understanding and grace because he had already suffered enough sadness by his own hand.
Grace in Our Lives
As I thought about this incident, I was reminded of how often I do the same thing to myself. I make a mistake, internally punishing myself for being human, create tons of undue stress, and then wonder why I feel useless and worthless. It’s a vicious cycle that I know you’ve experienced in your own life.
Have you ever heard the old adage…“Hindsight is 20/20?” It’s absolutely, 100% true. Our decisions would look different if we knew the outcome. Unfortunately, we are not always privy to all of the information before we make choices in life.
This is certainly a tough pill to swallow when we find out that things were not as they seemed. We did the best we could with the knowledge we had, but somehow things didn’t turn out like they were “supposed to.” We get so frustrated with ourselves for not being able to see the future, and not being perfect. Yet, we know we aren’t!
So, then how do we learn to extend grace to ourselves and by extension others?
Extending Grace in Your Classroom
While there are some aspects of grace that will look different in every class, there will definitely be more similarities than differences. Extending grace to the students in your classroom will be evidenced by…
- Not accepting everything the previous teacher tells you about “that troublemaker”, and making your own decisions after you meet all your kiddos.
- Forgiving those who never turn in homework…even though you want to scream.
- Allowing the kid who never has supplies to borrow ANOTHER pencil.
- Encouraging your little ones to be kind to one another, and to stand up for one another.
- Trying to understand the “baggage” many of our kiddos bring to school with them each day.
- Focusing on that child who is starved of attention, and seeks attention through interrupting and other inappropriate means.
Extending Grace in Your Homeschool
As a mama and a teacher to your own children, you face an interesting combination of frustrations and blessings. You get to be the one to help your children navigate the difficult experiences as well as the exciting ones. Showing grace in your homeschool will include…
- Gently reminding your children to put their names and the date on their papers…even though you have already reminded them 413 other times.
- Encouraging your child to persevere in that difficult subject…even when you are as frustrated as him.
- Being grateful for the opportunity to teach your own children…even on the really hard days.
- Forgiving your child for the “emotional outbreak” (aka temper tantrum) that she would never have with any other teacher.
- Forgiving yourself for the overwhelming guilt you feel after being less than kind to your child.
Extending Grace in Your Home
Being a teacher is just one of our roles as women. Many of us are wives and mamas, too. While each role is exhausting on its own, add them all together and you have the makings of total overwhelm. So why not extend grace to yourself by…
- Remembering you are human, and you will make mistakes.
- Knowing that everything on your to-do list will not get done everyday…and that’s ok.
- Being grateful for the people in your family…even though they create a metric ton of laundry each day.
- Appreciating the home you have…even when keeping it up is a burden.
As we’ve discussed what grace looks like in our classrooms, homeschools, and homes, I hope you’ve considered additional ways you can extend it. Remember, it isn’t simply about showing grace to others; it’s also about extending it to yourself. Even when you don’t feel worthy of grace, remember the definition of “unmerited favor.” You don’t have to deserve it…it should be freely given and accepted.