Our ability to make decisions – be they good or bad ones – is what separates us from the animals. One of the things that separates us, anyway.

As I look back over the last several years, so much has happened to me and my family. A lot of what has happened was out of anyone’s control. But what was, and always has been in our control is the ability to decide. Not only how we will react to the curves life throws at us, but also how we’ll react to the good times – whether or not we’ll embrace them, soak them up. Not only where we will go from a setback, but how we will avoid those setbacks in the future.

A younger, more immature version of myself often made decisions based on the here and now, on superficial reasons. The older, hopefully wiser me is getting better at thinking beyond the moment and the immediate future.

I started my major dietary changes over 6 weeks ago. Difficult? It hasn’t been overwhelmingly easy. But when I think back to how I felt 6 weeks ago, compared to how I feel now, it’s been 100% worth it. I started back exercising too. At least 4 days a week. Difficult? Ugh. I hate exercising. I love how I feel afterward, so I hold on to that, 15 minutes in, when I just want to go home and lay on the couch. I’m 2 months into a new job. Worlds apart from anything I’ve ever done. I’ve gone from a low stress environment (mostly) to a high stress, make-a-mistake-and your-company-gets sued/costs-your-institution thousands-of-dollars kind of environment. Difficult? Sometimes. But I love being challenged. I love feeling productive. And I love working somewhere that fits me.

Where is this going? Well, I guess I’ve just felt better about my decisions of late, and how I have gone about making them. No one is harder on me than I am on myself. A year ago, if I had implemented these recent dietary changes, and had some bacon at breakfast and a handful of chocolate after dinner, I would have hated myself and felt defeated. If I had missed too many days walking, I would have given up. If I had been confronted with some things like I’ve been confronted with at work lately, I’d have come home and brought it all with me.

But not anymore.

I’m not sure what has shifted in me lately, but I think it’s something akin to grace. For myself.

I’m a driven person. A perfectionist in so many unhealthy ways. So to feel like I’m giving myself the gift of grace is something of a breakthrough.

Maybe I’ve finally realized that God’s mercies are truly new every morning, so mine should be also. Especially for myself.

I am a horrible housekeeper. A decent cook (when I want to put forth the effort) and a wife and mom that is doing her damndest. But I fail. Not intentionally. I’m human. And while I do my best, sometimes I just have to accept that my best wasn’t good enough some days. Eatingwise, fitnesswise, momwise, wifewise, friendwise, daughterwise….whatever.

The decision to give myself grace is one I make daily. Sometimes several times a day. But it’s been one of the most life-changing decisions I’ve ever made.

I wish I had made it sooner. But that’s part of the peace that comes with the gift of grace – knowing what it was like when you didn’t have it.

I’m sure I will have days when I beat myself up for something I failed at. I don’t count the war as won. Just a few victories in battle.