A few weeks ago I shared the words (or themes) that I’m using to guide my 2017. One of those words is grace. Grace is a tricky thing, and I’m still learning about it. Accepting God’s grace feels big and heavy and confusing. I feel like I don’t deserve it. Or, if I do feel I deserve it, I don’t know how to receive it. It’s big. But, I feel like we can also give ourselves grace. And maybe that’s a way of accepting God’s grace? I don’t know, but I’m figuring it out, and letting you in on the messy story I’m living. Let’s start with my biggest struggle, shall we?
*FYI, this post is a long one.
Over the past year I have been pursuing a life of minimalism, which has led me to learn about toxic chemicals in beauty and household products, unethical and environmentally-harmful clothing production, and how much waste we all produce. I’ve since pursued a life of less waste, safe and natural products, and ethical fashion. In a lot of ways I feel like I’m doing well, and trying hard to make ethical choices. But time and time again, I make excuses for the Made in China tag (but the price is right!), the chemical-laden concealer (The natural ones don’t work!) and plastic produce bags (I can’t carry the cloth ones with me all the time!).
It’s a lot to think about. It’s a lot to do.
It’s a lot of change.
Naturally, it’s easy to look at the zero waste bloggers, the green beauty gurus and ethical fashionistas and feel like I’m behind. How quickly I tell myself that I’m not changing fast enough, that I’m not doing enough. When my rational thoughts kick in (not often enough, if I’m being frank), I realize that I’m pursuing a lot of new things. I’m bucking the status quo in so many ways. Our society is not set up for me to be pursuing this new way of life, and I’m mixing up the zero waste blogger, green beauty guru and ethical fashionista into one person, when that’s not the reality. What’s that saying? Don’t compare your middle to someone else’s end.
So, I’m giving myself grace. I’m shoveling it upon myself. Dumping it over my head like the green Nickelodeon slime.
I’m realizing now that what I’ve been chasing isn’t just ethical consumption or safe beauty products, but perfection.
Oof, that’s heavy.
Perfection is something I’ve been chasing after for a long, long time. And it’s held me back from so many things.
Perfection comes in a lot of different packages. Here’s what chasing perfect looks like for me: Setting extremely high expectations of my self, and beating myself up when I can’t meet them. Giving up a lot. Making excuses.
It was the last few months of 2016 when this realization of chasing perfection began forming in my mind and it’s been a tough one to grapple with. I’m nowhere near figuring it out.
This is the biggest reason I chose the word grace for one of my 2017 words. I need more of it for myself. Yes, I want to make good, sustainable, and ethical decisions, but I am also tired from all the guilt.
Reading blogs about these topics really brings me so much joy, but then comes the guilt. It’s no one’s fault but my own, really. These blogs do such a good service and have taught me and countless others so much. However, I find myself, again, comparing my middle to someone else’s end. My life is not the same as these other women’s. Some of them have spent more time and energy learning about these topics, and started the journey long before me. Others have more disposable income to spend on their clothing. Others still simply have different priorities in their lives.
So, I’m giving myself grace. On this journey I will fail time and time again. And even when every item of clothing I buy is ethically made, then, where is my doormat made? If my bathroom is free of chemicals, what about my craft supplies? Don’t get me started on the pets and our food. This is a lifetime journey, and no perfection exists in it.
If the guilt is weighing heavy on you for not doing something the “right way”, give yourself grace. If you don’t know how, bow your head and ask Him for it. Breathe deeply.
I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from Jess Lively (I’m not sure if she’s the original source) (I have it pinned up at my desk at work and think of it often):
“Surround yourself with infinite grace.”
Don’t you think we all need a little more grace in our lives?