This Is What Happens When Grace Wins

I’m not good enough.

It says it right there in the email I’m reading. It says the sales of Loveable are not strong enough to warrant publishing its companion book. And, though the voice of shame within me has gotten quieter over the last decade, it is seizing upon this opportunity.

Loveable Book

Photo Credit: Julia Sudnitskaya (Bigstock)

In fact, it’s doing exactly what I predicted in Loveable it would do:

When we embrace our worthiness enough to trust our voice, we begin to use our voice in the world. And when we begin to find our places of belonging amongst those who are grateful for our voice, those very same people encourage us to practice the passions that have been threaded into our souls from the very beginning. And when the practicing of those passions doesn’t go as planned, you find yourself back at what feels an awful lot like square one, as the voice of shame within you begins questioning your worthiness all over again.

The sales of Loveable aren’t good enough, so you aren’t good enough, Kelly.

The voice of shame within me is piping up again, telling me I was wrong all along, telling me to go back into hiding, telling me to go silent. So, I go silent for a few days. I get quiet and I contemplate giving up.

However, something else has also been happening over the last decade—as the voice of shame has quieted, the voice of grace within me has gotten bolder. So, as I do the bidding of shame and go silent, I hear the voice of grace all the more clearly:

The one thing you can’t let yourself do is go silent.

So, here I am on the verge of Christmas. No, I’m not George Bailey standing on a bridge, his dreams dashed and his hope gone, contemplating jumping into icy waters. I don’t need an angel named Clarence to swoop in and save me. I’m just Kelly. This isn’t It’s a Wonderful Life. But I do believe this:

It’s a wonderful book.

I believe in Loveable, and I need your help.

The voice of shame within me is scolding me for saying that out loud. It says that if I want help I have to help myself, because when I start asking for help from people, I quit being valuable to people. It says that my belonging is contingent upon giving, not receiving. My shame says to work harder, ask for less, and dress it up as generosity, so I can pat myself on the back while I burn myself out. My shame looks down at me with this patronizing look on its face and tells me this passion for writing that I’ve been practicing is cute, but maybe it’s time to grow up and focus on my real job.

And yet.

Peering over the shoulder of my shame is Grace. She’s smiling and rolling her eyes at my shame, like she and I have an inside joke and we both know my shame is annoying but harmless and we can let it ramble on and eventually it’ll tire itself out. Then, she starts speaking and her voice is like coming home…

She tells me it’s been a long forty-one years trying to do it all on my own, a long forty-one years feeling safe asking for help from no one but my wife. She tells me the second half of my life—the aging and the frailing—is going to require a lot of help, so I may as well get started with the asking. She tells me I’m loveable enough to ask.

She tells me I’m loveable, regardless of the answer.

So, here I am, asking you for help. Would you make a special Christmas list this year? Would you make a list of all the people you want to give Loveable to this holiday season? Would you make a list of friends and family and therapists and the leaders you love and that stranger on the train who keeps coming to mind? Would you make a list, and give each of them a copy of Loveable?

I’ll be honest, it’s tempting to end this post with some helpful tidbit for you. But this time, I’m not going to do it. This post is my Christmas gift to myself. It’s all asking.

It’s all Grace.

***

Thank you, friends, for being a safe place to ask, for your grace, and for spreading the love this holiday season by giving Loveable to the ones you love. You can order it below, or from your local bookseller. 

Order LOVEABLE on Barnes & Noble

Order LOVEABLE on IndieBound

Order LOVEABLE on Amazon

Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.