My plane landed at 9:30 pm Sunday night. That’s 12:30 am on the East Coast and since I’d been there all weekend, I had quickly adapted to the different time zone.

I was tired, but determined to make progress toward home. It’s a three-hour drive from the Los Angeles airport to our home in San Luis Obispo. I grabbed a coffee, picked up my luggage, hugged my traveling partner good-bye and merged onto the 405 freeway north.

I traveled for a couple hours and started to feel the dark night wooing me to sleep. The smartest thing to do was to stop and get a hotel room, even if only for a few hours of much-needed rest. I pulled off the freeway in Carpinteria, a tiny beach town and checked into a hotel. As I settled into the bed, I felt my body relax and sleep came quickly.

I set my alarm for 6:00 am and as soon as it went off, I hopped out of bed, anxious to get on the road again. I threw on clothes, zipped up my suitcase and grabbed another cup of coffee as I headed out of the hotel and into the parking lot. My keys were already in my hand and I clicked the button to unlock the car.

Nothing happened. I clicked again. And nothing happened. A feeling of dread mixed with panic swept over me. Oh no. No. Ugh.

The car was dead. I figured I must have left the lights on the night before. I was tired and in a hurry to get out of the car. I called AAA and sat down on the curb to wait.

“I’m such an idiot,” I told myself.

“I’m so stupid!” I repeated in my head.

Over and over I called myself names and berated myself for my mistake.

If you were there with me and it was your car, I would have told you, “No big deal!”

I’m sure I’d remind you it only set us back half an hour. I would have hugged you and told you not to be so hard on yourself. It was just a small, simple mistake.

But for myself I had no grace, only harsh words and criticism.

I began to wonder, at that early hour, how my perspective would change if I was gentler with myself. What if I showed myself kindness?

“It’s okay,” I whispered to myself.

“It could happen to anyone,” I told myself comfortingly

The sun began to peek over the hillside and cast a soft glow through the trees. I exhaled. The glow of the morning light was breathtaking. Maybe I would have missed the sunrise if I hadn’t had to wait for the tow truck to come start my car.

a little kindness2 lisa leonard-02

Within a half hour I was on the road, heading towards my family. My head was filled with thoughts of how imperfect life is, and how there is still beauty to be found. I am flawed and yet, I can show myself kindness. I make mistakes but there is forgiveness.

It’s okay to be kind to myself. I want to be gracious instead of critical. Isn’t that how Christ is with us?

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end.
They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Where can you show yourself some kindness today? Where can you replace criticism with grace and forgiveness?

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