Do you lie awake at night, worried that you’ve missed the mark in your life?
Do you get frustrated with yourself about dealing with the same personal failure, again and again?
Do you know if you weren’t so broken in x, y, or z areas of your life, you’d be much more successful?
Are you at your wits end about parenting, or marriage, or your job, ashamed about how your brokenness limits you?
Can I gently suggest a different way of seeing these failures?
What if you weren’t approaching any of these difficulties the wrong way? What if you don’t need to change into a different person to find the life you’re looking for?
I’m not saying that you aren’t capable of mistakes. I’m not saying you don’t need to take stock, ask humble forgiveness, or try new things.
I’m saying that you are simply human.
You simply lived each day as best as you could. And even if you didn’t achieve perfect success, you’ll keep trying and slowly get better.
Life Is Hard. It Takes Practice.
You are not a mistake. Your best efforts are actually your best, even if they jump the shark. Doing your best might not always work out the way you want–and yet it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Can I let you know a little secret? Life is hard.
It takes a long time to get better at living it.
ALL OF US take a long time.
You don’t get a clear roadmap for living your life well. And even if the right answer stands before you dressed in teal polka-dots, you might not yet have strength to tap it on the shoulder and ask it to dance. Sometimes, no good answer presents itself, and life is just hard, without much to do.
You can forgive yourself when you choose poorly.
You can forgive yourself for feeling bewildered and lost.
You can forgive yourself for your mistakes.
You can forgive yourself your weakness.
You can forgive other people for hurting you, choosing wrong, or having ugliness in their hearts.
Be Kind To Yourself
There’s this weird idea out there that the harder we are on ourselves, the more motivated we are.
It’s a lie.
I hard an interview with Maia Szalavitz, a former drug addict who now reports on drugs and addiction. She said the whole “tough love” approach to treatment—interventions, treatment centers, prison times—doesn’t work.
In the interview, Szalavitz described needle exchanges, where staff treated addicts “with dignity and respect.”
Szlavitz went on: “[at the exchange] you’re just seen as a person who deserves to live. And you deserve a chance. And it’s that that gives people hope… When you treat people well, they tend to treat themselves better.”
When you treat yourself well, you start making better choices.
I’m not talking about lying to yourself or blaming everything on other people. I’m not talking about grasping for delusional self-esteem. I’m talking about practicing honesty about who you are, warts and all, but always remembering it’s hard to live well. And forgiving yourself when you fail.
It’s hard to face our demons, cultivate patience, love, kindness, and perseverance. You can feel like an amateur at life, even when you get older. You can progress, make mistakes, and completely fail.
Yes, you could face consequences, fallout, or pain because of your mistakes.
But each moment gives us another chance for grace and kindness and forgiveness. Each moment gives you chance to begin anew.
You don’t need to change into a completely different person. You don’t have to disdain the way you handled yourself in the past. You don’t have to assume you’re incompetent and lame.
You’re not doing your life wrong. You’re not hopelessly inept or broken.
You’re human. You’re beloved. And you always, always have a chance to try again.