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  • Writer's pictureDrew Myers

Breaking Self-Sabotaging Bricks



“Show yourself grace and get back to it.”


I really don’t remember saying those exact words, but a friend of mine (shoutout to Sara) recently reminded me that I did.


She framed it up by saying: “I told my Bible study group what you said…”


“What did I say?”


“Show yourself grace and get back to it.”


I just stared at her with a perplexed gaze, thinking: “That is strong … but who said that? Me?!?!?”


The premise is powerful, and I’ve been trying to live this way for a while, but I really can’t remember verbalizing it exactly like that. But ever since she reminded me of my poignant call to action, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.


I’ve prayed about it. I’ve meditated on it. I’ve journaled about it.


Now … I’m writing this blog post about it!


Out of the gate, let me try to explain what the phrase – “show yourself grace and get back to it” – means.


Real quick … who do you want to pick on? Dieters? New gym members? Porn addicts? Since it’s still early in this post, and the hook still hasn’t been officially set, let’s keep it tame. I’ll focus on the people trying to eat healthier.


This is important to know and understand, though. This concept can be applied to any routine you’re trying to establish or a bad habit you’re trying to break.


Let me paint you a stereotypical picture and see if it resonates.


(Cue the cinematic background music)


You’re coming off a holiday weekend full of carb-loaded sweets, salty dips of goodness that probably involved an artichoke and enough adult beverages to make awkward small talk with your third cousin tolerable.


It’s Sunday night. All your family has gone home. You feel blah.


After catching a glimpse of yourself in the bathroom mirror, you make a bold declaration: “I’m going to start eating healthy tomorrow!”


So, you do.


You eat a sensible breakfast. You have a healthy snack at your desk around 10 a.m. For lunch, you consume the nutritious cuisine you packed before leaving the house. And you end the day with a well-rounded dinner, highlighted by a lean protein and roasted vegetables.


Monday was a bona fide win. You celebrate that victory with a smirk after you pass on the Blue Bell ice cream as you watch the end of the Rangers game.


That momentum carries over to Tuesday and Wednesday. Actually, you quickly find a rhythm and eat healthy all week.


On Saturday, you keep it going. “No cheat days,” you whisper to yourself as you skip the Cinnabon International Delight Creamer for the sixth straight day. Win.


You have success on Sunday, too – oatmeal and fruit before church; no cocktails and a bunless burger at the neighborhood cookout that afternoon.


You’re still rolling on Monday – another victory, finally acknowledging the power of meal prepping.


But then Tuesday arrives. You’re eight days into this diet. You’re confident and feeling good, but the wheels come off first thing in the morning.


Bob (walking through the office): “Hey guys … I brought donuts! They’re still warm!”


You don’t want to hurt Bob’s feelings, and your all-time biggest vice are warm glazed donuts, so you eat three.


“Damn, those were good,” you tell Bob as you leave the break room. “Thank you!”


You’re genuinely grateful, but as you walk back to your desk, and lick the glazed remnants off your fingers, guilt hits you like a small SUV in the HOV lane.


“What the hell did I just do,” you rhetorically ask yourself as your head falls into your hands like a ton of self-sabotaging bricks. “I was doing so well. What is wrong with me?”


Some people stop with the self-deprecation there, but most of us pile it on.


“I have no will power!”


“I am so weak!”


“I’m always going to be fat!”


“I suck!”


“I’m a loser!”


“Screw Bob! He’s a jerk!”


All of these comments – and other destructive narratives – start to destroy our confidence and make us lose all sense of reality. This is what I mean…


For many people, the next “logical” string of thoughts revolve around the rusty wrench firmly placed in our metaphorical spokes. We see Bob’s donuts as a hard stop – an abrupt end to this inspiring rhythm we were in. Then, the noxious self talk turns into blatant lies.


“Well … today is completely ruined! I guess I will throw away the healthy lunch that I packed and go out with everyone for Taco Tuesday.”


“Today is already a big loss. I think it’s going to be a pizza night!”


“One more doughnut isn’t going to hurt anyone, right? I’ve already screwed up the day by eating three. Let’s ride!”


Then, the audible dagger of retribution is drawn and the white flag soon follows: “...I’ll just start again tomorrow.”


Maybe you will. Chances are you won’t, because here come the excuses…


“Who restarts a diet on Wednesday? I’ll just wait until next Monday.”


“Becky’s Bunko party is this weekend and she makes the all-time best seven-layer dip. It’s like crack. I know I’m going to slip again, so there’s no reason to start again tomorrow.”


“This diet isn’t fair to my family. It’s selfish of me to make them eat healthy, too. Maybe Bob’s doughnuts were a blessing.”


Stop!


You get the point right? Please tell me you get the point. You should, because we’ve all lived a scenario just like this – whether it's food or another challenge.


I could definitely keep going, because “I’ll start again on Monday” is a precursor to “I’ll start again next month” … “I’ll start again after things slow down at work” … “I’ll start again once the kids leave for college.”


STOP!


Rewind to that slow walk back to your desk after having an intimate moment with Bob’s doughnuts in the break room. Again, you lick the leftover glaze off your fingers. Guilt starts to set in.


But ... instead of beating yourself up and feeding the death spiral, what if you showed yourself grace and got back to it.


That conversation in your head would go something like this: “Well … that was not the best decision, but I like donuts and I ate the donuts. Dang they were good, but that was just a blip on the radar. I’ve been doing so well with my diet. I’ve got this!”


Then, you take intentional action to get the “diet train” back on the track.


Example: You make a bold decision to save the lunch that you packed, and invite your friend Paul out for a salad. After Paul confirms for lunch, your mind quickly shifts to later in the day, “What should we eat for dinner?” You quickly decide on pork tacos, and you make a grocery list that includes avocados, salsa and corn tortillas. “It is Taco Tuesday,” you say with a smirk.


“Show yourself grace and get back to it.”


Again, I picked on the dieters with this diatribe, but this mindset can be applied to almost any aspect of your life. Working out. Putting down the cigarettes. Writing your second book. Cutting back on social media. Being present with your kids. Going to church. Reading more. Practicing self-care.


I’ll stop. You get it. I’m talking to everyone!


“Show yourself grace and get back to it.”


Now, there are two key components to this mindset. I’ll tackle the second one first – “get back to it.”


It’s over-the-top simple:


Don’t wait.


Immediately get back on that horse.


Restart NOW!


No excuses.


Let’s ride!


Why is this so hard for us to do? I think it has to do with the first part of the mindset – “show yourself grace.” We don’t do it. It’s hard to “get back to it” when you’re beating the hell out of yourself. It’s hard to restart when the negative self-talk is monopolizing the conversation.


Part of your brain is saying “let’s go, move on” but there is an internal bully that is screaming, “what’s the effing point?!?!?!”


The million-dollar question: How do you shut up that rude, disparaging voice in your head?


Grace.


Spoiler alert: You have never been perfect. You will never be perfect. You will always fall short. That is not negative talk. That is a fact – an undeniable truth. I’m not saying don’t strive for perfection – shoot for the stars … be a badass … leave it all on the field – but you cannot beat yourself up when perfection is just outside of your grasp … again.


You may do something very, very, very, very, very well. But perfect? Nope.


You may be victorious, but winning does not mean that you were perfect.


You may go 4-for-4 in your men’s beer league softball game and strike out eight other middle-age dudes holding on to their high school glory days. But you were not perfect.


You may crush that presentation to the leadership team and get yourself a well-deserved promotion and raise. But that presentation was not perfect.


You may raise a couple amazing kiddos – two valedictorians, who never experimented with drugs, had enough volunteer hours to make Mother Teresa blush and are destined for medical school. But you were not a perfect parent.


And I haven’t even touch on those one-off screwups that we all experience or those destrutive decisions that jeopardize the things we love and cherish the most.


Grace.


We live in a world that puts perfection on a pedestal and our naive minds hold ourselves to that unrealistic standard. What’s worse, a lot of people can’t deal with falling short of perfection. That’s when we start delivering unwarranted body blows to ourselves.


Reminder: In the history of forever, there has only been one perfect person. His father sent Him down to die on a cross for our shortcomings.


A lot of us forget that.


Tragically, some people don’t believe it.


But the powerful part of that story: With that sacrifice comes eternal grace.


In Max Lucado’s incredible book, Grace, he wrote: “God’s grace has a drenching about it. A widlness about it. A white-water, riptide, turn-you-upside-downess about it. Grace comes after you.”


That was on page 4 of that awesome book!


In the last chapter, Lucado writes: “Let Him do His work. Let grace trump your arrest record, critics and guilty conscience. See yourself for what you are – God’s personal remodling project. Not a world to yourself but a work in His hands. No longer defined by failure but refined by them. Trusting less in what you do and more in what Christ did. Graceless less, grace shaped more. Convinced down deep in the substrata of your soul that God is just warming up in this overture called life, that hope has its reasons and death has its due date.”


Read it again, because here comes the irony – the glorious haymaker: “Show yourself grace and get back to it” isn’t necessary. A more accurate statement: “Lean into God’s grace and get back to it.”


Again, perfection is unattainable, but the good news is that God already knows that you’re not perfect. He loves you regardless. He shows you love and kindness despite your stumbles and falls. He blesses you despite your ego-driven decisions.


At the end of Chapter 2, Max Lucado drops a wonderfully great bomb, framing it up with the story about the adulterous woman brought before Jesus to be stoned to death: Grace happens here.


For the purpose of this blog post, grace happens as you walk back to your desk, with your sugary fingers in your mouth.


“Lean into God’s grace and get back to it.”



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