Amazing grace

the special one amanda cass

The special one
Amanda Cass

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” Lao Tzu

If you are struggling with feeling ‘not being good enough’, or holding on to shame that is preventing you from accepting who you are, you are not alone. Society idolises celebrity status, bombards us with images of what we should look like, and manipulates what we should have and aspire to be. And there is an expectation to be perfect in everything and in every way.

Yet perfectionism is a myth. It’s a powerful myth that damages lives. Because when you fail to live up to those expectations, it can have devastating effects on your self-esteem. It’s natural to feel disappointed if you make a mistake or fail to do something, but if that feeling turns to shame then you could be heading down a spiral of self-destruct.

If the shame of ‘not being good enough’ has left you battling with low moods or depression, or your lack of self-worth has led to self-medicating with food, drink, drugs or prescribed medications, then you need to start challenging that myth of perfection.

“Shame is the most powerful, master emotion. It’s the fear that we’re not good enough.” ~ Brené Brown

My own long-term issues with depression stemmed from unresolved childhood trauma which led to a dependency on alcohol. From early childhood the experience of being rejected by my mother and abused by my father had a devastating effect on how I valued myself.

As I progressed through adulthood those feelings of ‘not being good enough’ intensified. Outwardly I wore the mask of the ‘independent, capable, confident woman’ but underneath I was lonely, confused and broken. But most of all I was ashamed of who I was.

At the lowest point of my life I was a chronically depressed alcoholic who had lost everything. By society’s standards I was a complete failure. I had nothing so I was nothing.  Except that was not strictly true, I did have something.  I was breathing and I had a speck of faith.

“T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.” ~ Amazing Grace by John Newton

I would love to say that I came to faith and an appreciation of grace through an instantaneous moment of spiritual enlightenment, but I didn’t. I came to believe through doubt and fear, and if I am totally honest because I had nowhere else to turn. Yet a speck of faith was all that was necessary to receive the gift of grace.

This is what is so wonderful about faith. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, as long as you believe and then receive. I know that receiving can be just as hard as believing if your sense of self-esteem is low, or if you feel that you have messed up too much to be forgiven. Anyone who has experienced heartbreak, loss, abuse, addiction, depression will be all too aware of how difficult it can be to start seeing themselves in a positive light.

Yet you are precious. You have value. You can be forgiven. And you owe it to yourself to receive the gift of grace and start to live your life as the person you know deep down, you can be.

“Courage is grace under pressure.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Maybe taking that step of faith seems impossible, but be reassured that it is through your weaknesses that you will find your strength. Dare to expose your vulnerability and you will reveal the intense beauty of your authenticity.

Grace is the antidote to shame. Grace through faith allowed me to accept my past and move on from it. It is grace that helped open my heart to forgive others and myself. It is grace that has enabled me to find my inner-strength and courage to heal.

It is so empowering to learn that you don’t have to be perfect and that you can embrace your imperfections as part of your uniqueness. And it is liberating to be able to accept yourself because of what you are, not despite of it. Grace is the key to both self-approval and emotional freedom.

“The gift of grace is a fresh start to each day, every day.” ~ The Hurt Healer

making a fresh start

Making a fresh start – Amanda Cass

Imagine being able to wake each morning knowing that your past didn’t have to define your future. Think of how good it would feel if you knew you could begin again. Consider how good you would feel if you believed that you were simply okay as you are, but with the desire to fulfill your potential. Those are the spiritual promises that I choose to embrace daily, and they are there for you too.

The gift of grace allows me to accept yesterday, live for today and dream for tomorrow. It’s the privilege of living with a peaceful mind, a vibrant heart and an illuminated soul.

Now that’s what I call ‘Amazing Grace’.

Both images thanks to the super talented Amanda Cass                                                      at http://www.redbubble.com/people/theartoflove                                                                     All rights reserved. No part of these images may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior written permission

 

59 thoughts on “Amazing grace

  1. What an amazing story although overwhelming too. . It takes alot of strength to pull ourselves through tough issues. I’ve been there and still am. Only my issues at the beginning were different. But it was my getting through those issues that I seen some things I didnt like. More issues that were hurtful to me. I kept dealing with with these issues as they arose. Im not relying on any substances but the stress is unbearable at times. So I just go into a silent mode & solitude. I figure the only way I can overcome any of my issues that really annoy me is to avoid any situations that cause me grief and find another outlet. I have to do this myself. It gives me some peace not completely but better than before. I dont know if thats Grace.. but I manage to get through the issues.

    • So sorry to read that you have faced and are facing such difficult challenges, but kudos to you that you are no long relying on substances. That takes great strength and courage. Taking yourself away into solitude may keep you out of the issue but avoidance as I am sure you realise isn’t always the best option. It takes time to find peace in a storm. I do hope that as you progress through your journey of emotional recovery that you don’t just manage to survive but come through stronger than before. Be patient with yourself and congratulate yourself on how far you have come. We are all a work in progress and you are doing great. Take care and I look forward to seeing you here again soon.

  2. I am so glad you visited my blog and thus I ended up on yours. Thank you for all your great inspiring posts. I will come back and go through all of them, I promise! Just reading those words is soothing and healing ina way. I am so following now! 😀 Cheers!

  3. Very nice piece Carol 🙂 I rely so much on the Amazing grace of God. To say thank you to Him, I had to do something too on this awesome gift to mankind from the God of Grace (please check it out at http://www.infoplaze.com/?p=743). Sadly, a lot of people refuse to accept the fact that we are ALL beneficiaries of God’s awesome and uncommon magananimty. It is always scary for me to even imagine what will happen if God decided to be relating with us on “face value” bases. Once again, nice piece !

  4. Pingback: Amazing grace From The Hurt Healer | Women Who Think Too Much by Jeanne Marie

  5. I like Lao Tzu’s quote…and your post sings lots of truths. I think people either try to be perfect (especially the perfection the world promotes) or they are full of shame of not being good enough. The secular world and religion promote both. If we could only love ourselves the way Jesus taught us to, and asked us to, the world would be sweeter and more contented. Loving oneself means to accept the journey as a progressive thing…not condemning but rather striving to know ourselves and be better than the day before. Being kind and nurturing to ourselves. Bit by bit we accomplish true love of ourselves and others.

    Thank you for stopping by and visiting me. Carolyn. For some reason today my “Like” button is not receiving input. I’m getting the emails on yahoo, but they aren’t showing up on my blog. Hopefully that will correct itself.

    Blessings for a happy day,
    Marianne

  6. Hello Carolyn. Great post. I believe that perfectionism is a futile goal. Don’t you think? We will never reach it in these earthly bodies.

    “Consider how good you would feel if you believed that you were simply okay as you are, but with the desire to fulfill your potential.”
    That’s just it. We need to accept ourselves as we are, take whatever it is we have, and do our best with it – not to be perfect with it – but do our best with it. I love the song, “The Little Drummer Boy”, because it paints a very simple and humble picture of a little boy that saw baby Jesus right after he was born, recognized he had nothing to give, but then gave him the best that he had. If you would like to read that post, you can do so here: http://stacilys.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/fftf-spirit-then-he-smiled-at-me-body-kale-salad-with-mango-and-coconut/
    Blessings =)
    Staci

  7. I love this. I have struggled my entire life with self-esteem stemming from my childhood. and then a pretty bad experience at my last job sent me down a bad road that I finally feel I’m emerging from (left there 4/13). I worked with perfectionists who by my last six months were “hounding me”. that’s how it felt. they picked apart everything I did and found all of my mistakes. I was hard on myself for making mistakes before, and that experience nearly did me in….but the job I have now has taught me “it’s OKAY to make mistakes!” my new manager doesn’t bat an eyelash when I make mistakes. Oh glory be!! there IS life beyond my last job! oh anyway….these were some of the thoughts going through my head as I read your post. Brilliant! and thank you very much.

    • What a brilliant story! So glad to know that you have been able to find yourself a better job where you are appreciated being you. As you should be. Wishing you much success in your new employment 🙂

  8. Funny thing, those people we think of as perfect and successful aren’t any happier than we are…it’s all about how you feel about yourself, not where you are in life.

  9. Thanks. Nice Post

    Dependance, perfectionism, expectation.

    If we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependence and its consequent demand- BWilson

    Acceptance, grace, humility

  10. Sometimes we are led by others down paths that help us heal, help us see ourselves as whole and a gift. I’ve done transformational work for the past 20 years of my life and know that: your words “Imagine being able to wake each morning knowing that your past didn’t have to define your future” is true.

  11. I love this line, Carolyn – “The gift of grace allows me to accept yesterday, live for today and dream for tomorrow.” You have expressed so well the idea of loving ourselves enough to work through the shame and live again. This one is so inspiring, one that is a keeper to be reread! Beautiful!

  12. There’s a whole book in this post, Carolyn, not in number of words but in depth of meaning, value, and importance to all of us. When you were at your lowest, when you felt you were a failure and had nothing to give, you still had something… a “speck of truth”. Wow… A speck of truth, a mustard seed of faith… the most powerful change agents are so concentrated we don’t need a lot. And that’s grace. Amazing grace. And I’m so, so very glad you are sharing this story and singing your own song! I’m so glad to be here – this is a sacred place for me! Thanks, Carolyn 🙂

    • That little speck of faith, that little speck of belief, that little speck of willingness in our heart is all that God needs to work His amazing grace. Thank you for your love and support Susan 🙂

  13. What a beautiful, beautiful affirmation, Carolyn. I read your post first thing after I logged into email, quietly, with my favorite mug of coffee. So soothing. This is one thing we must all remember – self love is the sweetest of all! And I love this quote by Lao Tzu: “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” Thank you so much for filling my heart today! Hugs!

  14. Beautifully articulated, Carolyn. I especially resonate with the period of your life when you put on the mask and appeared confidence and independent while feeling broken inside. I also really like you suggestions that we only need a “speck of faith” to begin moving in a new direction. That’s so encouraging!

  15. “Grace is the antidote to shame” Wow. I want that tattooed on my brain 🙂

    What a fantastic and insightful post, Carolyn. It truly does speak to me because shame defined me in many ways. And out of that shame I drank more. And then I became shameful again…and the cycle continued on and on until….Grace. His Grace was what brought me to a place where I could start to see things differently. Like you, it wasn’t overnight. It took time, but that time was afforded to me by a gift that was through grace. What a joy!

    And you know what, Carolyn? I am only now starting to feel this in my heart, this idea that my imperfections are okay, that they are my uniqueness, that they are alright. I knew it intellectually, and yet still persevered in trying to be perfect in many ways. It’s just now…just now…seeping into my heart. And I love that freedom. Wow. And you speak of it so eloquently, as someone who knows deep down that being fallible is just how we are and we are best at being us…no one else.

    Thank you for this, Carolyn. I loved this. I love your writing and your messages.

    Blessings,
    Paul

    • I can totally relate to that cycle of shame you describe here Paul. It’s a desperate situation and that’s why it is so amazing that you have found the strength, through grace, to brake free. And that’s exactly what you deserve.
      Blessings to you.

  16. This is such a beautiful post. I loved each and every line of it from believing in yourself to love and from faith to grace. The whole post is like a quotation. 🙂

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