Do you forgive people when they mess up? Hopefully that answer is yes. But what about yourself? Are you okay to forgive yourself when you mess up too? In this day and age, it can be so easy to be mean and say hurtful things. But I believe it can also be just as easy to say kind things.

I want to talk about this on three fronts today. I want to focus on professional, relational, and personal grace. These are things I’m still working on for myself as well. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I am working on it. As such, I want to share the things I have learned.

Professional Grace

I strive to do well in my job. I want to be competent and effective at what I do. It’s okay both for you and for others to make mistakes at work. Things happen, and it can be incredibly frustrating. However, no one is perfect. Everyone will make mistakes at one point or another. Give grace when you can. I know not every situation is easily smoothed, and that’s okay too.

I’m in a unique position as a teacher. I’m expected to give grace to both my students and my coworkers. There are times I take on other classes when coworkers call out. In addition, because of the school district I work in, students can miss a lot of days depending on their home life and other factors. I hold my students to (hopefully) high standards. We also go through curriculum so quick that I don’t really have time to go back through things. Because of all these reasons, if a student misses a lot, they can fall behind in grades. I recognize that it probably feels overwhelming to get work made up in eight classes. So I give grace. If my students come to me asking for help on their grades, I give them three bigger assignments (as opposed to five small assignments). When these students demonstrate proficiency in these assignments that are worth more points– tests, essays, and the like– then I also give them credit on some of the day-to-day activities. It does not mean that they automatically receive an A. In fact, that rarely happens. But it could take their grade from a D or an F to a B or a C.

If you have coworkers (and most people do), be sure to extend grace. I’m not saying to let everything slide. Deadlines exist, and work needs to be at a certain capability. But I believe that an occasional mistake can be forgiven and accepted.

Professional grace also extends to yourself. Recognize when you are not at your best. Don’t work yourself to death. It’s not worth it in the slightest. I struggle to take time off, and sometimes the quality of my work slips because of it. I’m slowly getting better at recognizing my limits and being okay taking time off when I need it. I will discuss this more in the “Personal Grace” section.

Relational Grace

Relational grace is the kindness you show to people in your life. Your friends, family, spouse, children, and everyone else in your life will make mistakes at some point. It’s going to happen. What is more important, at least in my perspective, is how you handle those situations. It’s definitely important to address the issues when they arise, but it’s also important to recognize the humanity we all share.

For example, I have almost no difficulty letting people know when they hurt me. But I make sure that I don’t jump down their throats and make them feel like I’m attacking them. I also give them a chance to explain themselves. Often, it’s really just a misunderstanding. A good productive way to have these conversations are telling them “I felt this way (sad, angry, hurt) because of this situation.” That way, it’s not met as an attack. If you tell them, “You caused this situation,” they’re more likely to jump on the defensive and be upset.

Your spouse/romantic partner should also be met with grace when necessary. A super unhealthy behavior is to “keep score,” where, when you’re hurt by them, you remind them of the ways they hurt you and that you were just getting even. That’s genuinely childish behavior. My middle school students do that kind of stuff. It shouldn’t be among adults. I’ve talked about the “business meetings” I do with my partner (AARs). If the mistake is big enough, we’ll have an AAR about it. Honestly, we have an AAR about minor things too just to make sure we’re okay. But we’re two people trying to be together, so we have to figure out where the lines are and why they are there. Toes can get stepped on, and both of us can easily say or do stupid things. My partner forgives all my mistakes, including the dumb ones, and I do my best to do the same. Otherwise, we’d constantly be at odds with each other and the relationship would constantly deteriorate.

I’m not a parent, but it’s also so important to show grace to children. They’re small people that are trying to navigate and figure out the world. I’ve seen some parents who have a code word established for their children. If the children find themselves in an unsafe situation, they’ll use that code word, and their parents will come and get them with no questions asked. I’ve read stories of this happening. And even if it’s something that the child normally would’ve gotten in trouble for, it’s not mentioned because the parents never want them to feel bad about asking for help if the situation becomes unsafe.

Personal Grace

This is the one I struggle with the most. While I can recognize that other people deserve grace, I have difficulty recognizing I myself deserve the same level and amount of grace. I’m not always my best. I make mistakes. Things don’t go according to plan. So often, instead of letting myself have that grace I offer to everyone else, I beat myself up and am hard on myself.

It is so difficult to give myself grace. For some reason, my brain tells me I don’t deserve it. But I do.

I’m trying to find more kindness and peace. A lot of that starts with acceptance. If I accept that things are hard sometimes in my life, I find it to be just a little easier to give myself grace.

I still hold myself accountable. If I make a mistake, I own up to it. I apologize and seek forgiveness if I wronged someone. But I also try to make sure that my brain knows that one small mistake isn’t the end of the world. The only person who expects me to be perfect is me. It’s perfectly okay that I can’t get everything done in a day. I’m not a superhero (as much as I would love to be). I am just me. But that’s not bad. Life gets hard, things get too much, and I’m still deserving of grace.

If you take anything from today’s post, let it be this: be kind. This world has enough nastiness. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. We don’t need to spread anymore hate in this world. So be kind and give grace.

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