I’m learning to be more merciful with myself. In order to do this I first had to learn to be honest, admit to myself and others when I’m not where I would want to be, and accept it. Being gracious with yourself can be hard. It takes humility to admit your limits. I’m learning that it takes more courage to do this than to try to muscle through things or try to be someone I am not. I’m not as strong as I want to be sometimes, and that is ok. It is the acceptance of this mercy that allows us to be gracious with others also. Accepting the love, mercy and grace of God always allows me to love others better. When I accept that I am enough in God’s eyes it frees me from judging others.
2Chron 20: 15-17 “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow, march out against them… 17 But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, […] Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!”
Sometimes the tenderness of the above passage of scripture moves me to tears. When I think of the battles I took up alone, without God, how much peace I missed out on. Yet, He is always there when I lean in.
Ps 94:19 “When anxiety was great within me, your consultation brought joy to my soul”
It’s easy for me to fall into my “You’re-not-good-enough thinking, “You should be in X place by now” and then try to project X into my behavior. This breeds anxiety. It happens when I lose sight of how much God loves me. He lifts my down cast face up into his hands and He whispers, “But you will not even need to fight [..] stand still and watch the Lord’s victory.”
This concept of taking on more than we are able or ready for would be unheard of in physical fitness. Imagine if I thought I should be lifting 300 lb by now, when in actuality I can only lift 120lb, I stepped up to the bar and tried to lift 300lb anyway. I would literally be crushed under the weight. This is what I can do to myself emotionally. I try to lift more than I can only to be crushed by the weight, or I expect others to lift more because I think that is the standard. But it’s not God’s standard. I see more and more how this behavior is rooted in my pride and perfectionism, not in God’s perfect mercy and grace. He is with me when I am afraid and He goes before me in each battle.
Accepting others for who and where they are starts with accepting God’s mercy for me. When I accept my portion and my boundaries, I embrace my most authentic self, and that girl, because she is enough, can accept and respect others, without judgment. She no longer needs to be something she is not, and can accept others for who they are.
“He [Jesus] never forced anyone to believe or obey Him, nor did He ever compromise anyone’s responsibility to live with the consequences of his or her choice. […] Jesus was neither compelled by anyone to act a certain way, nor did He compel anyone else to act a certain way. Jesus never violated people’s right to choose their own behavior, but rather He allowed them to experience the consequences of their free choices. […] His ministry was “clean” grieving, unadulterated by any compulsion to force His own solution. He let others make their own choices, and He silently insisted on His own right to make His choices.” – Nancy Groom, From Bondage to Bonding
The above Nancy Groom quote is so convicting and inspiring to me. It is such an authentic and vulnerable illustration of who Jesus was, with his disciples, with Judas, and with others. As Groom illustrates her point she highlights how Jesus never forced his disciples to follow him, he asked, and left the choice to them. He did the same with Judas. He accepted them for who they were and accepted their decisions, even if they hurt him. Loving others this way, accepting them and their choices is impossible if I am the source of my self-worth. I fall short of my perfectionist standard and so do others. It can be scary and hard to expose ourselves to other’s decisions. It can grieve us if we see their choices hurting them. When I see those I love hurting it is easy to want to step in and “fix it”, but I’m learning to trust God instead. When I entrust myself to Him it becomes easier to entrust others to him as well.
Because of how I perceived love in my childhood it can make receiving the message of God’s grace and love more difficult, to truly accept that I am made in His likeness. It is a daily faith decision to believe in God’s love for me, His graceful, relentless love. It is this love that gives me the courage to be my imperfect self, to fall short of my standards and into His grace in full assurance of acceptance. When I do, I let go of the notion of not-good-enough. I don’t need to force my own solution. I can stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. This is my prayer, my hope, who I want to be more and more each day, in Him.