This past weekend for the 4th of July, Ryan, Quinn and I packed up the car and headed to That State Up North….eh hem…Michigan. We visited some amazing friends and their adorable lake house at Torch Lake (more to come on that soon).
Ryan and I love to use car rides to catch up on life, have crazy dance parties and occasionally sneak in a nap (not while driving of course!). Often times I pack a book or something else to work on. This trip, I packed some blank thank you notes and the list of thank you’s that had been haunting me since Quinn’s birthday almost a month and a half ago. We drove six hours there and I never touched the things. Finally on the way back home, after a few cat naps, I thought about why I found myself stressed about a list of thank you notes…again.
Growing up, receiving a gift also meant writing a thank you note. That was the expectation and I’m super grateful that this was instilled in me, especially now that handwritten notes seem to be a dying art. There is something so special, so personal, so genuine about taking the time to put pen to paper and to tell someone how appreciated and loved they are.
So you might be wondering now how God used something as simple as thank you notes to teach me all about grace. Well, here is my story:
After Quinn was born, we were flooded with visitors that came bearing gifts and food. Never had I seen such an outpouring of love and generosity. I was in awe at the way that our friends and family loved us so selflessly. I diligently kept a list of every single gift and morsel of food that came our way, along with the name of the gracious person(s) that brought it.
Well, wouldn’t you know that life with an infant was a bit more hectic than I had imagined?! When I wasn’t elbow deep in dirty diapers or vomit, I was nursing and if I wasn’t nursing or pumping I was likely attempting to brew my second or third cup of coffee. Needless to say, that list kept getting pushed further and further to the side. I would see it in our mail organizer and my stomach would drop. I felt like I was letting people down or that perhaps they didn’t think I received their gift or worse yet that I didn’t appreciate it.
Time came and went and that damn list sat unaltered except for the occasional addition as gifts and meals trickled in. Finally, after a conversation with a few friends, I realized how ridiculous it all was. There were no strings attached to the gifts and meals that were given to us. No one expected anything in return. Thank you notes are good. But they were not my best yes at the time. (If you haven’t read The Best Yes, do yourself a favor and buy it right now and clear your schedule for the day it arrives). It was causing more anxiety than I care to admit. So I THREW IT AWAY. I literally threw it in the trash. I swallowed my pride when I threw the list away that day but at the same time realized my overwhelming need to show myself grace. I think for so long I’ve reflected on and practiced showing grace to those around me (sometimes admittedly better than others; just ask my husband) that I forgot to extend grace to myself.
If I’m being truthful, I find grace to be a difficult concept to wrap my mind around. I make it more complicated than it was ever meant to be. In a world where we are told that we have to earn it, I am reminded that I have a God who gives it freely. So whatever your “thank you notes” are, whatever it is that is stressing you out, causing you to feel that you aren’t enough, that you are falling short, know that there is grace. Breathe it in because that is where we find true happiness, true contentment.
“We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace on which we stand and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” -Romans 5:2
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