Forgiving and Loving Yourself Sets You Free

I have this small whiteboard that lives between my computer and my keyboard, and I write notes on it throughout the week as I move from meeting to meeting.  

Sometimes the notes that end up on my whiteboard are just one-word reminders of things that I need to get done or the name of someone I need to call.  I also jot down short phrases of ideas that I want to pursue. 

I have to confess that there have been more than a few times when I have written down a word or a phrase and then forgotten why I wrote it down.  Also, my handwriting is terrible, so there have been some moments when I haven't been able to decipher what I scribbled down.  

When these moments occur, I often get angry with myself for being such a goof.  I berate myself for not having the foresight to use better penmanship or to just be focused enough to write down enough information.   

It astounds me how quickly my whiteboard can become an instrument of self-judgment and criticism rather than a helpful tool that merely helps me remember to write an email or figure out which video to use for worship. 

I think that there are more than a few of us who struggle with these kinds of things.  Maybe you don't have a whiteboard to indict you for not having your stuff together, but I'm betting there's something else.  

I read a wonderful little quote from Melody Beattie the other day, so I wrote it down: 

Self-judgments set us apart, separate us from the rest of the world in an undesirable way.  Forgiving ourselves reconnects us to the world, to God, to ourselves. 

As I was reading that line today I got to thinking about how Jesus operated in the world when he was in the midst of his ministry.  

He had this incredible way of holding up a mirror to people so they could see themselves clearly in all of their frailty and brokenness---and then he set them free from it. 

Once there was a woman who the religious elites caught in the act of adultery with some guy (who wasn't even being punished, really).  They were going to execute her, and Jesus intervened by holding up that mirror of his.  

"Anyone without sin, cast the first stone," he told them, and they all walked away.  At last, he turned to the woman, and asked her "Where are all your accusers?" She told him that they had gone. "I don't condemn you either, go and live better," he replied. 

Imagine how that must have felt for her.  No condemnation.  No judgment.  She was set free---from death to life.  She was set free to live differently, to put her mistakes behind her, and to move forward into hope.  

I'd like to think that she forgave herself and that she began living her life free from the guilt and shame she most likely felt because of all that had transpired.  I'd like to think that those words from Jesus were words that she heard for the rest of her life.  

If you have been beating yourself up for all the things you aren't... If you have been judging yourself for things you haven't done...  If you have been living with the guilt of not being the person you long to be...  Maybe it's time to see yourself through the eyes of Jesus. 

You are not condemned.  You are set free.  You are loved just as you are, and loved so much that you will find the courage and the strength to be more--to become your truest and best self.  

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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