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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Stop Being so Hard on Yourself

I glanced at the Waze GPS app on my phone. Great. I was on my way to a group who’d invited me to visit after discussing one of my books. Before I was even out of my driveway, the estimated time of arrival said I’d arrive five minutes late.

Why can’t you leave on time? What’s wrong with you? My thoughts chided me.

This line of thinking neither helped me make up for lost time or prepared my heart to encourage the women I’d see. I thought of a book I’d recently finished with an imperfect heroine. If she ran late I didn’t love her less. I empathized with her. So why was I so hard on myself?

I shifted my thoughts off myself and onto God. I thanked Him for making me who I am. I asked Him to help me do better and to work this situation out for good — and to help me arrive on time!

A woman pulled in behind me as I parked my car. She jumped out of her car and raced to open the door. “I was so glad to see you drive up. If I walk in with the speaker I’m not late.” We both laughed.

God used my timing to build a bond. I entered relaxed and happy to be there. Would that have happened if I’d stayed self-absorbed, brooding over my weaknesses?

Reading how God dealt with His flawed children in the Bible has helped me learn to give myself grace when I disappoint myself. God appeared to Jacob and gave him a spectacular dream in which the Lord stood at the top of a ladder that spanned the gap between heaven and earth and His angels ascended and descended it (Genesis 28:10-17).

God blessed Jacob in the dream and promised to give Jacob and his descendants the land of Canaan.

"Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring." Genesis 28:14 (NIV)

God was passing the blessing of Abraham to Jacob.

What amazes me about this scene is its timing.

The Lord revealed Himself and the promise to Jacob after Jacob had just deceived his father. Jacob was fleeing his brother Esau’s wrath.

God showed similar grace with Abraham. A pagan king took Abraham’s wife Sarah into his haram because Abraham told everyone that she was his sister. When the king discovered the truth, he reprimanded Abraham and had him escorted out of the country (Gen. 12:10-20).

I’m sure God didn’t condone this lapse on Abraham’s part, but He never mentioned it. Abraham had suffered the consequences of his deception. That was enough. Instead, in the next recorded conversation between God and Abraham, God gently reassures him and shows him the land He will give him.

If God is patient with us, shouldn’t we emulate Him and extend grace and patience to ourselves as well?  Living in regret doesn’t help us move forward. But if we surrender it to God, He can use our weaknesses for His glory and our good.

Perhaps the key to accepting ourselves — which precedes the ability to unconditionally love others — comes from seeing ourselves as our Lord sees us.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)

When He looks at us, He sees what we will be.

“And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.” Romans 8:30 (NLT)

Copyright © May 2018 Debbie W. Wilson, used with permission.

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