But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
As I reflect on my life, I don’t always like what I see. Mistakes made in choices, conversations, relationships, actions. I look back and ask, “What was I thinking?” I hadn’t awakened one morning and said, “Let’s see how I can mess up today.” In retrospect, I see that what I thought was right at the time was actually wrong.
And this comes over the course of being a disciple since I was 15 and a clergyman for 43 years!
But maybe that’s the point. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you don’t sin. It means you recognize and admit the times you messed up. You feel bad about it, learn from it, and ask forgiveness (from God and whoever you wronged).
However, there’s one other thing that’s just as important to do.
You have to forgive yourself.
Paul said that God loves us while we were (are) sinners. It’s not after we became good. It’s when, regardless of outer ugliness, love looks into our hearts and likes what it sees. The image of Christ dying for us is a reminder that there is nothing we can do to stop God from loving us. And if God so loves us, shouldn’t we be able to love ourselves, too?
Christian writer C.S. Lewis reminds us of this:
“There is someone I love, even though I don’t approve of what he does. There is someone I accept, though some of his thoughts and actions revolt me. There is someone I forgive, though he hurts the people I love the most. That person is me.”*
Today remember that you are MUCH more than your faults, past or present. Cut yourself some slack!
*Cited by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons in unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why It Matters (Baker Books, 2012), 198.