Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

Real marriage advice: Stop casting blame

How casting blame damages your relationship and you may not even realize you’re doing it!

I wrote these words about casting blame about a decade ago. While I’m not dealing with babies any more, I most definitely needed this reminder for myself. I’ve gotten better about it, but lately I’ve been struggling a bit again with feeling like I work harder than everyone else in my family. I start having a pity party, casting blame and being miserable.

But, I have it worse than you. No, I have it worse than you. Seriously, though, I have it worse than you. We all know people who are experts at casting blame. No matter what you say, they always have it worse. It’s a comparison game.  It can drive you batty. 

I have a person in my life who is an overachiever at this game. The problem is what she is comparing to whatever I’m saying isn’t even remotely close to being the same thing. It gets very frustrating to say the least. Most times I just laugh it off knowing that’s just her. Other times I want to pull my hair out.

I’m not sure why there is a competition over who’s life is the worst some times, but I’ve seen it so many times and it so many ways. Of course, I’m perfect and have never engaged in such a competition. Yeah, right. I’d love for that to be true. I’ve most definitely had my moments. It’s super easy when things get hard to look around and moan and groan about how easy everyone else has it. And if they only knew how hard things are for me. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I’ve so been there done that.

The blame game as a new parent

As a new parent, I really struggled with that. The only problem was that I was competing with my husband more than anyone else. I was frustrated that he didn’t know how hard I had it. I had a newborn. I was up with her throughout the night. I had mastitis. I had to stay up past her and pump. I had another bladder infection. I had to get up before her and pump. I had to try to squeeze in work at some point. I had to change diapers. I had to wash pump parts. I had to wash bottles. I had so much to do. It was so hard on me. Me, me, me! (I’m sure hormones were in this mix somewhere, too.)

What I eventually realized is — even though I wanted to smack him upside the head when I’d fall back into bed in the middle of the night because he was sleeping — he had it hard, too. He was waking up throughout the night, driving three hours to work and back each day, figuring out how to be productive while there and then coming home and taking over baby duty for a few hours so I could snooze. And I never even thought to offer the poor man dinner. He had his own struggles and challenges.

How to stop casting blame

I still have issues with this from time to time. But, I’m learning to remind myself when I do to think of things I appreciate about my husband and what he’s dealing with. Instead of being jealous of the guaranteed three hours of alone, quiet time he gets during his daily commute, I think about the crazy traffic he has to deal with. And how tired I know he is after long days. It seems so less glorious then.

At the same time, he’s got to appreciate me and help me for me to be OK doing that. It’s a give-and-take. While I thought after five years of dating and 12-1/2 years of marriage that we have all the kinks worked out, I’m learning that we don’t. There are always new kinks. They especially spring up with parenthood. We are learning some new ways to communicate. 

While before we had leisure time to talk without interruption, we now have limited time to talk without interruption and added stress of taking care of a little person on top of that. Our communication has sped up and gotten clearer. I’ve never been a person to play games or beat around the bush, but I do have times where I tend to lean to passive aggressiveness. And nothing pushes my husband’s buttons more than passive aggressiveness.

Don’t be a martyr

I’m remembering that I don’t have to be a martyr. (Poor Stacey. Look at how hard she has it.) When he’s taking the kiddo’s weekend nap time to play a video game and I’m taking the same time to fold laundry, straighten up the dining room and start on dinner, I have a couple of options. I can ask him to help. Or I can do it on my own and be thankful he’s getting a chance to relax after a hard week, especially when I might remember how he snuggled and played with the kiddo just a couple of hours earlier so I could take a long shower or read a magazine. It’s much better than shooting him glares he’ll never notice while folding laundry or slamming kitchen cabinets to make a point he won’t notice while making dinner. 

The problem is if I’m feeling like I need help and not asking for it (and to my husband’s major credit, when I ask, he almost always complies without a fuss) then later in that day, I usually get incredibly angry at him. And it blows into this whole big thing and I get wrapped up in how much I have to do and how hard I have it that it becomes so much a bigger issue than it should have been. 

It goes back to communication. Heck, I have two degrees in communication (journalism), so you’d think I would never struggle with it. And it also goes back to being so focused on myself and how hard I have in in comparison that I don’t even see his side of things. Of course he can’t read my mind.

Casting blame keeps our focus inward

In the end, many problems in life and many disagreements really come down to who has it worse. In our human nature we get into that comparison game. I think I have it worse than my husband when I’m doing household chores and he’s playing a video game. One mom thinks she has it worse than another because her kids are younger. Or whatever. The thing is somebody does always have it worse than somebody else. Life works that way. 

We aren’t all dealt the same hand at the same time. But, we are all dealt struggles. Unless you know someone’s story — and really KNOW their story — you don’t know how hard their life is. You think they have it easy. You think they are better off than you. But, they’re dealing with their own worries, doubts and fears. They’ve got their own stuff going on.

The best thing we can all do is get outside of ourselves and listen — really listen — to what those around us are saying. What are our spouses dealing with right now that is weighing on them more than we had thought? What are our friends going through that is breaking their heart when they are home alone? It’s not a comparison game. It’s a fight and struggle to get through this life. And we’re not the only ones in the fray. Everybody is backed into a corner in some way throughout their week.

My challenge to myself and to you is to stop our comparisons when they creep in and start looking around us. Start looking outside of our own struggles and realizing the people we’re dealing with (who may be driving us insane) are struggling, too. Maybe they deserve to be cut some slack. Maybe they don’t. Or maybe they really just need someone to listen and validate what they’re dealing with. And maybe that can be us.

It’s not about who has the most battle scars. It’s about who helped the most soldiers survive the battle.

Bible verses about grace

20+ Bible verses about grace to encourage your soul

I’ve heard grace described as not getting what we deserve. In other words, we deserve punishment, but instead find love and understanding. God’s grace is beyond my complete comprehension. How He continues to love me in spite of my failures amazes me. I want to model that same grace to my family, so I went searching for Bible verses about grace to uplift and encourage me along the journey.

God still disciplines me, but He also blessed me and extends limitless grace. I desire to do that with my children. I want to extend grace to my husband when he’s having a hard time rather than make it worse. These Bible verses about grace will help you dwell on God’s grace in your own life and inspire you to share grace with those around you.

I’ve pulled out verses specifically relating to grace. I encourage you to read also the verses around these for a fuller picture of God’s grace and goodness.

God’s grace to us

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” — 2 Timothy 1:9 (NIV)

“He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” — Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” — Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.'” — James 4:6 (NIV)

“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” — Romans 6:14 (NIV)

“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” — Romans 11:6 (NIV)

“We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” — Acts 15:11 (NIV)

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” — Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” — Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)

“For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” — 2 Chronicles 30:9b (NIV)

“So that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” — Romans 5:21 (NIV)

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” — Psalm 103:8 (NIV)

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” — John 1:17 (NIV)

God’s grace through us

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” — Titus 2:11-12 (NIV)

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” — 2 Peter 1:2 (NIV)

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” — 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” — Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

“But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” — 2 Corinthians 8:7 (NIV)

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” — Philemon 1:25 (NIV)

“One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.” — Proverbs 22:11 (NIV)

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” — 1 Peter 1:13 (NIV)

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” — Acts 20:24 (NIV)

Looking for more inspiring quotes and verses? Check out these posts!

This growing collection of Bible verses is great for children! #Bible #BibleVerses #Truth #TruthTuesday #BibleVersesForKids #ChildrensMinistry #MemoryVerse #MemoryVerses

Learning to stop being hard on yourself

What if you saw yourself like your loved ones see you?

I was putting my son to bed recently, and he was having a difficult time. His 8-year-old self was upset with a mistake he had made. It was a very small mistake. He didn’t get in trouble for it. Nobody was upset, hurt or angry. But he was treating himself as if he had physically harmed someone else. He looked at me and asked whether I think he’s too hard on himself.

I know he knows the answer, because we’ve told him this many times. However, maybe he needed to hear it again. So I said yes, I do think he is too hard on himself. Then he asked where he gets it from. He knows the answer to this as well. Both my husband and I have shared with him a few times that I am the same way with myself. Yet, again I answered.

In all sincerity, he looked at me and asked incredulously, “Why are you hard on yourself?”

He said it in a way that he truly didn’t understand why I’d be hard on myself. He is my son, my baby boy, who adores me. From the beginning of his life, he’s been my sidekick. He has quite literally chosen to be with me instead of friends quite a few times during his life thus far.

My son sees me in a different light than I see myself. He sees good things. I’m thankful for that. It left me wondering, though, why am I so hard on myself? More importantly, how can I start being kinder to me and teach my son to do the same?

What being hard on yourself looks like

I can’t speak for everyone; I can only tell you what being hard on yourself looks like for me. Unfortunately I see my son doing some of these same things, and it breaks my heart. He is a chip off the old block, so to speak.

Being hard on myself means that when I make a small mistake, I chastise myself as if I have committed a grave error that will affect the rest of humanity for the rest of known time. I ruminate on the mistake. My inner voice says really mean things to myself about me. While I consider myself an encourager to others, I am far from encouraging to myself. In fact, I think I often speak words of encouragement to others because I so constantly need them. Yet when someone does compliment or encourage me, I struggle to believe them.

For me, being hard on yourself means that no matter what you do, it’s never enough. I always find myself wanting. I struggle to acknowledge the good things I’ve done and focus instead on the negative things. While I might accomplish many things in a day, I focus instead on where I failed and the tasks I didn’t get to.

Another way I’m hard on myself is in taking responsibility for when things go wrong or others are upset — even when there is no possible way I’m the cause. I remember doing this even as a child. When I came home from school and my mom had had a bad day at work, I felt like I was responsible. (And I have an incredibly sweet mother who has always been a positive influence in my life. She didn’t take her bad days out on me in any way. I could just sense her feelings and somehow felt I was at fault.)

The truth behind being hard on yourself

I won’t pretend to know the truth on why all people are hard on themselves. I don’t even fully understand why for myself. Instead, I suspect a lot of it (for me, at least) stems from two things: being a people pleaser and a perfectionist.

While I think I’m not a people pleaser so much these days, the truth is I am. I don’t like conflict. As someone who is sensitive to others, I don’t like negative emotions. (Who does?! But, I often quite literally feel what those near me are feeling.) I don’t care what people think about things like what I’m wearing or doing. I’m comfortable in my own skin. However, I really don’t want to upset people around me. I avoid conflict like the plague. So, I guess you could say that I am a people pleaser, even though I don’t want to admit that.

Then there’s the perfectionist side of me, which goes along with people pleasing. I want things to be just so. More than anything, I want to be the person I expect me to be. Sometimes that person conflicts with who I actually am. I’m a quiet introvert. Sometimes I’d love to be gregarious extrovert who confidently walks into a room and chats kindly with everyone they see. Even though I know that isn’t me, I’m often hard on myself when I do just the opposite. As I slump into a room, hope nobody notices me, find a friend I can latch on to and then count the time until I can escape, I am simultaneously mad at myself for not being different.

My perfectionism usually has way less to do with physical attributes and things as much as it does with myself. I want to be perfect, but I am not. I fail and come up short. So then I’m hard on myself.

Learning to be kinder to yourself

I am a work in progress. I certainly haven’t conquered being hard on myself. But I am working on it. I noticed how I was being hard on myself even more after having children. Then I really paid attention when I saw my kiddos being the same way. My daughter has been hard on herself for sure, but my son amps up to my level of being hard on himself.

Like so many things, my desire to improve myself stems from seeing the same struggle in my child and wanting to be better for him. So, I’m working on it.

Doing the best that I can

A few things have helped me give old Stacey a break and not be so stinking hard on her all the time. The first is reminding myself that I’m doing the best that I can. Overall, I really am doing the best that I can at any given time. Yes, there are times I could probably put in more effort, but most of the time I have given my all and that has to be enough. Because it’s all that I have to give. Often I repeat to myself when I start getting mean inside my head: “I’m doing the best that I can.”

I tell my son the same thing. As a dyslexic, he can be very hard on himself about reading and spelling. He wants to always have perfect scores on assignments and tests. I can only begin to imagine how frustrating it is when words are everywhere and everyone else reads them with ease while you struggle. I remind him often that his dad, teachers and I only expect him to do his best. His best is good enough. He is doing his best, and that’s all that matters.

Letting go of perfection

The other thing that I strive to remind myself is that I’m not perfect. While I know I’m not perfect, I often behave and treat myself in the opposite fashion. I need to cut myself some slack.

I’ve also realized the good that comes from not being perfect and shared that with my son the other night. I told him that he isn’t perfect. And neither am I. None of us are. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need Jesus. He hadn’t thought of it that way before.

I don’t want to go through this life without Jesus. He has seen me through so many things and loves me in ways I don’t understand. If I were perfect, I wouldn’t need Him. I don’t want to imagine what that would be like. Truly, I don’t. So not being perfect really is OK. His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Seeing you as others do

Finally, I’ve been thinking about what if I saw myself the way my son does. What if he saw himself the way I do? How would that change our opinions of ourselves? I don’t think I’d be as hard on myself; neither would he.

When I look at my baby boy, I saw a young man who is persistent, kind, empathetic, caring, sweet, hilarious, thoughtful and so much more. He can solve problems and come up with solutions better than anyone I know. He thinks outside of the box. I often refer to him as “my little man with a plan,” because of how his mind works. There is no way I’d trade him for any other son. He is just right!

I can’t tell you exactly how he sees me. But, I hope my family sees that I love them and am trying every single day to do my best for them. I want to be their support system and soft place to fall. My desire is to encourage them and uplift them. Hopefully, they see my sensitivity, my empathy and my love for Jesus. Perhaps they see the strength I’ve used to overcome various challenges. I have good qualities. I need to do is focus on those more often.

Can you imagine how much my attitude would change if I allowed myself to peak at the good things God sees in me? He truly knows me. Even in my relationship with Him, I can imagine Him shaking His head at my faults. But He knows we aren’t perfect. He sent His Son to die because of how much He knows this! He is a loving Father who sees us as a whole person. Just like I see the struggles and faults my kids have, I also see much more the goodness and strengths they have.

Next time you are being hard on yourself, remember that you are doing the best you can and you aren’t perfect. Then take a moment to step back and look at yourself the way those who love you — including your heavenly Father — do. I’m going to do the same thing!