"Maybe it's time to let the old ways die...
It takes a lot to change a man
Hell, it takes a lot to change."
Bradley Cooper, Maybe Its Time (A Star is Born)
How long should one be punished for something they did?
When we are children and teenagers our parents are the people we look towards as authority to structure around us what “appropriate” punishment looks like. Authority is a supreme ruler. It leads us to believe that we can be condemned or be “bad” due to behavior. Labels and condemnations are scary, harsh and can often provoke shame. Shame keeps us sick. It prevents us from healing. It fosters resentments, bitterness, negativity, hurt, codependency, perfectionist, and addictive behavior. I personally believe the worst form of this is self condemnation or when I label myself as something and think I deserve to sit there and sit in its misery.
The thing is though that both Biblical ways and in my recovery world I have been taught that God grants us grace! “But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” A footnote I found for this scripture was the following, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” This deeply resonates with me. My secrets of shame kept me sick for a long time. They kept me silent, helped me put on a mask of perfectionist hell and appear to the outside world that all was well. Reality was; I was desperate to drown myself in a vast pool of Chardonnay. Fuzzy, out of touch with reality, floating away from existence. This pushed me further from God (my Higher power if you didn’t catch that yet…), my true loving relationships with people, life, being present in the moment, and enjoying the blessings of today.
There is no grace or forgiveness in drowning yourself in anything. Its suffocating and everything that happens in darkness truly does come to light. Grace starts with self forgiveness and letting go of self-condemnation. We are all imperfect sinners (Romans 3:23) and have to slowly start to realize we can slowly forgive ourselves, start showing up daily, and doing the best that we can. There is no perfection in life. There is effort, loss, love, happiness, sorrow, and so much more. Count backwards from 10 with a deep breath and forget about what it is you are beating yourself up about. You are right where you are supposed to be in this very moment. Growing, hurting, learning, loving and being the best person you can be. What you would want for anyone else.
Grace is defined by courteous goodwill or simple elegance when you look up the definition. Start looking at yourself with goodwill and put away whatever self imposed shackles you put on yourself. I am not the person sitting her today that I was when I was deep in a spiral of shame and alcohol. Believing I was, kept me from moving forward and steered me towards the next relapse. Sorry, but not today Satan! In order to self forgive, I do believe you must repent. Repent means you ask for forgiveness and don’t repeat the same behavior again or change it. So do this for yourself today. If you are mad at yourself for something, or find yourself negative self talking to yourself in some way, stop. Ask for guidance from your higher power and change these patterns. It won’t be easy, but guess what nothing worth having in life IS easy!
I no longer get out of bed every day wishing for an easy day. Doing hard things, repenting, reflecting, forgiving, and granting grace move me forward to a better place. As my favorite author Glennon Doyle says, “we can do hard things.” Do the hard things and grant yourself some grace today.