A few weeks ago I watched “Grease” on Amazon Video. What a fun walk down memory lane it was! I sang along to the songs, recited the lines before they were spoken, and laughed out loud as my favorite character, Frenchy, said these words: “Men are rats, listen to me, they’re fleas on rats, worse than that, they’re amoebas on fleas on rats. I mean, they’re too low for even the dogs to bite. The only man a girl can depend on is her daddy.”
For days afterward I found myself singing the title song aloud in the weirdest of the places — the grocery store, the locker room at the gym, and on the street as I walked my two dogs to name a few. Gosh, I love that catchy tune!
Grease is the word, is the word that you heard
It’s got groove it’s got meaning
(Grease) grease is the time, is the place, is the motion
Grease is the way we are feeling
I’ve got an embarrassing secret. Promise not to laugh? Here goes…deep breath…I used to think that Frankie Valli was saying “Grace is the word.” Yes, I realize that the movie is called Grease, not Grace, and yes, this makes absolutely no sense! But picture me back in 1978, 12 years old, not the sharpest kid on the block, and definitely not good at connecting the dots. Ugh! Have mercy on my ignorance and show me a little grace, okay?
Speaking of Grace…
I had a coaching video call with a client a few days after watching the movie and the story about my song lyrics faux pas came up. We both had a great laugh about it. As a life coach, I’m often making connections between things that happened to me and lessons I learned from them and can then share with clients, so I was especially grateful when I was able to do a perfect segue from the Grease/Grace snafu right into a discussion about my client giving herself grace and how I learned to do the same thing for myself years ago.
Earlier in our call, my client shared with me three expectations she had for herself. 1) The desire to always be available for her kiddos, 2) to be a supportive wife, 3) and to be a successful businesswoman in her city. But instead of giving herself credit for doing the best she could, she was hard on herself. She wanted to be perfect in her role as a mom, as a wife, and as a businesswoman and she saw herself as coming up short often.
In order for her to see that she was putting unreasonable expectations on herself, she and I did a little activity in make-believe. I had her close her eyes and picture a “perfect” mom/wife/businesswoman standing in front of her. I asked her to describe what that “perfect” woman looked like, what extracurricular activities she did, what responsibilities she had, what her calendar looked like, and what her relationships were like.
My client described her as a savvy dresser. She was beautiful, fit, and healthy. She never lost her temper. She was very organized. She was always attentive to her husband and her children. She was quickly advancing in her career and excelling in business. And, the cherry on top, she was perfect.
I asked her to open her eyes and to listen to what I was about to say to her. I then slowly said these words: “She doesn’t exist.”
Perfect people don’t exist. No one has it all together! We all:
- mess up
- fall short
- have skeletons in our closet
- do things we regret
- feel shame from time to time
- do embarrassing things (like mess song lyrics up!)
- get frazzled
- lose our temper
This is where grace comes in.
Grace is the Word
My favorite tattoo is the one I have on my wrist. It’s a cage with a bird flying above it. The words “free indeed” are written underneath the cage. I love it because it reminds me of all the mindsets and behaviors that I’ve been set free from.
One of the areas I’ve found freedom in is perfectionism. In the past, I thought being perfect would gain me acceptance from others. I aimed to be the perfect friend, the perfect daughter, the perfect parent, the perfect wife, and have the perfect body. It was exhausting and impossible. I felt guilt when I didn’t live up to the expectations I placed on myself. Guilt destroyed my confidence, defeated my potential, and damaged my relationships.
Do you know what set me free from perfectionism and guilt? Grace.
Two of Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definitions for grace are:
- “Unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification”
- “Approval, or Favor”
Grace is assistance from Above. Grace is approval. Grace is favor. I love this quote from Max Lucado: “Grace is God’s best idea. His decision to ravage a people by love, to rescue passionately, and to restore justly – what rivals it? Of all his wondrous works, grace, in my estimation, is the magnum opus.”
It’s true! I was rescued from perfectionism, rescued from a lack of confidence, and rescued from feelings of unworthiness. I was set free. I began to care less and less about what people thought of me. I stopped “performing” for an audience to get approval. I realized that I wasn’t always going to get things right. And above all, I decided I wanted to set an example for my children, and chasing perfectionism wasn’t what they needed to see me try to do.
Grace moved in and guilt moved out.
So Long Guilt. Hello, Grace
So, how about you? Are you putting a weight on your shoulders that don’t belong there? What do you need to let go of? Control? Perfectionism? Shame for something you did or said (or didn’t do or didn’t say)?
Here are two suggestions on how to not be so hard on yourself:
- So What? Say “so what”! So what if things didn’t go the way you thought they should. Some things are out of your control. What’s done is done. You did the best you could. And, above all, you have nothing to prove to anyone.
- So Long! Say “so long”! Yesterday is over. Today is a new day. New beginnings. New opportunities. New choices. New do-overs. Don’t miss out on today by thinking about yesterday.
They seem almost too simple, don’t they? Sometimes we overcomplicate things when simple is best. (do a “tweet this” with the previous sentence) Friend, do yourself a favor and give yourself grace. Life goes by too fast to waste it on useless entanglement. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, your poor judgment, and your past behavior. No one is perfect. Grace is the word. Sing it with me!
Grace is the word, is the word that you heard
It’s got groove it’s got meaning
(Grace) grace is the time, is the place, is the motion
Grace is the way we are feeling
Have you got something you’ve been set free from? A mindset or behavior that was once holding you back? Send me a note; I’d love to hear about it.
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