I Am A Work in Progress – Accepting Ourselves Despite Our Mistakes
Do you find yourself getting frustrated with your mistakes, and struggling to change the things about yourself that you don’t like? In today’s post I share a Bible Journal page I created along with a story that illustrates my own struggles to change and accept myself, and the way in which God reached out to me with a gentle reminder that I am His work in progress.
How many times have you had a conversation with someone that goes something like this:
“You made a mistake. That’s okay, we all make mistakes. It’s a part of life. It’s how we learn and grow and become better people. The most important thing is that you learn from your mistakes.”
Or perhaps this:
“Yes you did something wrong, but we all do wrong things sometimes. There is nothing wrong with you. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s part of being human. The most important thing is that you learn from it. You ask for forgiveness, fix it if you can, and try not to do the same thing again.”
I’ve had these conversations with my children many, many times in last almost-20 years that I’ve been a parent.
And each time it’s given me a precious opportunity to re-affirm my love for and belief in my children.
I know they are going to make mistakes.
Lots of them.
I know that they are going to do things that they shouldn’t.
Yet that doesn’t change my love for them one bit.
I accept them for who they are, mistakes and all.
Besides, with each week, each month, each year that goes by, I see them trying.
They make the same mistakes less and less often.
Sure there are always new mistakes and misbehaviours that pop up, BUT……
I can see that they are learning, and growing, and changing.
And so, even though at times I many not be happy about what they’ve done, I do understand, I don’t hold it against them, and I most certainly don’t love them any less for it.
You know what else?
Even if I didn’t see them trying, learning, growing, and changing, I would still love them.
So why is it so hard to offer that same kind of understanding and love to myself, when I am the one that makes a mistake or messes up?
Why is it that when I am the one that does something wrong, the first words I offer to myself are harsh criticisms?
What is wrong with you?
How many times are you going to keep doing the same things over and over again?
When will you learn?
A lot worse.
Which of course always leaves me feeling so bad about myself.
And that is exactly what I was feeling this past Friday, after getting impatient with Papa (my 97 year old grandpa).
I was on my way out the door to an appointment that was about a 45 minute drive away.
Now I always like to leave myself about a 15-20 minute window whenever I have to go anywhere, just in case I run into traffic.
I was at exactly that 15 minute mark.
I popped in to see Papa to tell him I was leaving, and that he would be home alone for a few hours.
I also reminded him to be careful about what he did so that he didn’t fall, because I wouldn’t be able to rush back.
Let me pause for a minute to fill you in.
Papa is in remarkable health for a 97 year old, but he does have some of the physical limitations that being that age can bring.
He doesn’t have the greatest balance, and if he loses his balance, he doesn’t have the core strength to self-correct.
Which is why he needs to be with his walker (and using it properly) at all times when he is up and about.
The physiotherapist also told him that he should not be bending down to try and pick things up because that puts him off-kilter, and increases the chances of him falling.
Although falling is not a daily or even a weekly occurrence, it has happened fairly often in the last 8 months.
Usually because he is doing something he is not supposed to do.
Let me put it this way.
Papa’s nickname is “Papa Andretti” (after the world famous race car driver Mario Andretti) because he has a tendency to zoom around pretty quickly (for a 97 year old). Mind you, while he is zooming, his walker is at arm’s length (whereas it should be right up close to his body).
He’s also a pretty reckless “driver.”
We often joke about his walker being like a bumper car…..or a tank….as he plows through, or over, anything that happens to be in his way.
It can be pretty funny…..
Until he falls.
Thankfully, he’s never broken anything, but he has had some pretty nasty scrapes.
So, whenever I have to go out and I know he is going to be alone, I make sure to remind him of all the things he is supposed (and not supposed) to do.
I had just finished with my reminders when Papa decided that he had to take out his garbage right then, and that I should be there to watch and make sure he didn’t fall.
Oh, and here’s another aside.
Papa is Hungarian. He is old-school, European male “traditional.”
My grandma used to wait on him hand and foot, and he kinda expects me to do the same.
I’ll be honest with you – I pretty much do wait on him hand and foot.
BUT, I have had to get him used to the idea that I can’t always immediately drop everything to do what he needs me to do (for non-urgent things).
Why he decided that he needed to take out his garbage right at that moment, I have no idea.
But, even though I was starting to feel harried, I figured, what’s a few minutes?
Well, he made his way to the washroom, put the garbage can on the counter, slowly proceeded to take the garbage out of the can, by hand, a few pieces at a time and put them in a ripped piece of plastic (the toilet paper roll packaging – because he didn’t have a plastic bag handy).
For about 5 minutes, I watched him, my blood pressure slowly rising as I kept checking my watch, until finally, I couldn’t take it any more, stomped into the kitchen, grabbed a real plastic bag, took the garbage can from him, and emptied it.
I then said goodbye, hurried out the door, hopped into my van, roared away…….
….and felt horribly guilty!
Which is when of course I started to get down on myself.
You see, I love Papa dearly.
He and my grandma were more like parents to me than grandparents.
In my early years of motherhood, when Todd was travelling constantly (kind of like now I guess, except now I’m used to it) – they were my lifeline and my sanity.
Every week, without fail, wherever we lived, they would drive up to stay with us, bringing loads of food, doing our laundry, helping with the kids and keeping me company.
They did SO much for me, all of my life, that what I do for Papa today, is in my opinion, the least I can do.
That’s why I doubly HATE it when I get impatient with Papa.
Absolutely HATE it.
The thing is, I have struggled with a lack of patience pretty much all of my adult life.
My mom was horribly impatient, and I remember as a teen vowing that I would never be that impatient. Ha!
A lack of patience is something that I have prayed about and tried to work on…… relentlessly….for a looooooooong time now.
Yet every time I feel like I am moving forward, I do something like this that makes me feel as though I’ve fallen 10 steps behind again.
And for all the reasons I mentioned above, I feel doubly horrible when my impatience has to do with Papa.
Here’s another thing, Papa always seems to know what pushes my buttons.
I’m sure it doesn’t help that there are 7 other kids in the house, many of whom are great “button pushers” as well, so I often feel as though my patience button is being pushed all the time!
With Papa though, I haven’t figured out yet whether when he’s pushing my buttons it’s always unknowingly, or whether he does it on purpose sometimes because he finds it funny.
Actually, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure he does it on purpose at least some of the time, because he used to get a real kick out of pushing my grandma’s buttons. Then she’d get really mad, and he’d laugh about it, making her even more mad.
Either way – on purpose, or unknowingly – there’s no excuse for my impatience.
I know it.
I am working on it.
But I fall prey to impatience more often than I’d like to admit.
And each time I do, I feel horrible about it.
So I was busy feeling horrible, beating myself up about being impatient with Papa, when I felt a gentle nudge in my spirit.
Just that morning I had been reading the book of Philippians, and I had done a artsy journal entry in my Bible on Phil. 1:6 (seen in the picture above).
He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Phil. 1:6 (ESV)
Or, as it says in the New Living Translation:
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Phil 1:6 (NLT)
As I was driving, feeling more and more terrible about myself with each moment that passed, God reminded me that I am a work in progress.
He is working in me.
It does NOT not say that He worked in me.
Working is an active verb. Present tense.
It is something that is happening. Ongoing.
Which means that even when I don’t see the results, or feel the results of His work, He is working.
He started working the moment I believed that Jesus Christ really and truly is the Son of God, and the moment that I accepted Him as the Lord and Saviour of my life.
He started working, and He is going to keep working in me until the day I die.
God then reminded me that he doesn’t love me because of anything that I do or don’t do.
In fact He loves me in spite of everything that I do.
My impatience, my selfishness, my anger….(and more).
Every bad thought, feeling, or action that I have ever had or have ever taken (or ever will have or take)….none of it scares Him.
None of it disgusts Him.
He sees the very worst of me…..and loves me.
And if He can see me and love me for who I am, no matter what I do, then who am I to look down on myself, to berate myself, to hate myself?
If He can accept me for who I am and despite what I do, then I need to learn to accept myself despite my mistakes.
It was a gentle reminder, yet one that hit me hard this time.
Here’s why – the whole time I was driving, I could see my Bible Journal page in my mind’s eye, and it was as though I could hear a little voice whispering over and over again: God is working in me.
Before I had even needed Him, He had led me to that Scripture.
Just that morning.
Even before I needed it.
Because He knew I would need it.
God’s pretty amazing that way.
And here’s the thing – He’s not like that just for me, He’s like that for you too.
Even if you are still seeking, still questioning, not quite at the believer stage, He is still there for you too.
If you, like me, are frustrated with your mistakes and struggling with changing things about yourself that you don’t like, I would offer you the same reminder that God offered me.
Be gentle with yourself sweet friend, YOU are a beautiful work in progress.
God accepts you. Will you accept yourself?
Loving, Heavenly Father – I pray that through my stories, and in sharing what I am learning from You, that You would reach out and touch those who most need to hear from you and feel Your presence in their life. May my art inspire and bring healing to those who need it. May everything that I share on my blog bring glory and honor to You. In the Precious Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen
If you didn’t read my last post, I would encourage you to read it, as I share the story of where I’ve been, and what’s been happening in my life these last few years, as that experience has totally defined where I am with my blog today.
Here in a nutshell, is the “why” behind what I am sharing and will be sharing with you (as I shared in my last post):
I have been feeling God calling me to share my story, and the ways in which He is working in my life.
I have been feeling called to share my art, and the way in which art is helping me process my life and my experiences, and how it is helping me move along the path of healing towards wholeness and joy.
I have been feeling called to share with you the many ways in which we can use art – and the gift of our creativity – to deepen, celebrate and share our faith, and worship our Almighty and Loving Creator.
So that is what I will be doing here on my blog – Artsy Faith.
I will be sharing my stories and my art.
I will be sharing my faith.
I will be sharing what I’ve learned, and what I’m learning.
I will be sharing encouragement and inspiration and I will be sharing art tutorials as well (soon).
Above all, I will be sharing about how I am finding healing and purpose by connecting my art to my faith and my faith to my life.
And if you are interested in what I have to share, then I invite you to sign up for my new email newsletter at the bottom of this post.
I am starting my email newsletter list completely from scratch again as I don’t want to make any assumptions that people who subscribed in the past will be interested in what I have to share now.
So what will I be sharing?
I will be sharing weekly-ish inspiration, encouragement and teachings on art and faith. The newsletter may also include special offers and information about upcoming classes (if that is where God leads me).
As I close this post, it is my prayer that if you are on a similar path, by sharing my journey, you will feel God’s touch in your own life.
KEEP IN TOUCH