Am I the only one that’s spent a ridiculous amount of time cooped up in the house this year?

I personally don’t cover a lot of distance these days in general now that my commute to the office (AKA – my desk shoved in our bedroom corner) is about three feet from where I sleep. 

All of this extra time inside our home has led to a deeper awareness of all of the issues, big and small, that I have with our little house. As I walk through the hallway, I notice the scuffs on the walls asking to be repainted, the kitchen cabinets that have seen their fair share of smoke from our extra attempts at home-cooked meals, and I see a bathroom that I’m sure was already out of style the day it was built. There are things that I don’t like about the layout, the floors, the yard. And it’s easier than ever for me to notice all the things that feel old, beaten up, or broken. Even though we’ve done more work on our house this year than ever before (my sad use of vacation days), I’ve often still felt a bit overwhelmed when I’ve thought about all of the things that are still left to do. 

If you can’t tell already, I have a tendency to be a bit critical at times. I often default to a “what’s wrong” perspective rather than paying attention to “what’s right.” And I don’t only do this with things like my house, but often even look at myself in this same way as well. I truly am my own worst critic. 

The truth is, I am rarely grateful for who I am, but am frequently jealous over what I am not. I am often unkind to my own soul rather than appreciative of the beauty God has created in me. I see my flaws, failures, inadequacies. In the times I’m feeling more confident, I hear the critical voice from years of religious upbringing warning me that a generous view of myself is one step away from pride and arrogance. So it feels somehow safer, more spiritual, and humble to remain critical of myself and live in hyper-awareness of my many shortcomings.

Am I the only one?

Yet I know that true humility isn’t found in tearing yourself apart. Instead, it’s found in seeing yourself for the beautiful being that you are, and recognizing that all of that beauty is a generous and unearned gift. And even though each of us has our scuffs and dents, hurts and scars, disappointments and failures, we can be genuinely grateful for who God has created us to be. Instead of looking through the lens of self-criticism, there is an invitation for us to recognize how deeply loved we are. 

“For You shaped me, inside and out.

You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath.

I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.

You have approached even the smallest details with excellence;

Your works are wonderful;

I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.”

Psalm 139 (The Voice)

My friend, I know this has been a hard year. I know you’re likely feeling more dinged up and worn out than you did when this year began. 

But I want you to know that you are known, loved, and beautiful.

Perfect? Heck no.

Beautiful? YES YES YES

During Thanksgiving, we’re often really good at reminding ourselves of all of the things we’ve been blessed with. We have a lot to be thankful for. Can I encourage you to be grateful for one more thing? 

Be grateful for who you are.

Avoid looking at yourself today through critical eyes, pointing out the flaws and imperfections. Instead, remember that it’s a beautiful gift to be you. It’s a beautiful gift to have been knit together with excellence by our loving Creator. 

As I walked around my house again today, I found myself appreciating things just a little bit more. The dings on the walls, the scratches on the floors, the projects that lay incomplete, they’re all a part of the beautiful story of my life and family. It’s a work in progress, but it’s ours. My hope for all of us is that we can view ourselves with the same sense of gratitude in this season, recognizing that even our flaws and imperfections tell a beautiful story of the life we’ve been given.