This is day 22 of Soulful Simplicity, a 31-day series through the month of October. The series can be found here, and I hope you find it enriching and encouraging. If you have any questions or would otherwise like to connect, feel free to send me a note: lightandloveliness [at] gmail [dot] com.
P.S. If you’ve been following along in real time, you’ll notice I’m a few days behind. I am slowly-but-surely catching up! Thanks for your encouragement!
Yesterday I shared about forgiving others as a way to finding freedom for yourself. Today, I want to talk about a little trickier aspect of forgiveness — the notion of forgiving yourself.
I am assuming you have something from your past that you are not proud of. Maybe it’s small or maybe its big, but you have likely made a mistake at some point that still eats at you a little bit. Or maybe you can think of so many things you have failed at, your head is now spinning.
In either case, I relate to you.
I am a professional mistake-maker, and at one time in my life, I was also a perfectionist. That combo is a quick way to make yourself crazy. I have struggled to live with a light heart because I am one of those people who feels responsible for everything under the sun, even if I know it is not my responsibility. So if its not my outright mistakes, it is the constant pressure I feel to hold everything together with my own two (admittedly puny) little arms.
For many years, I was never able to fully rest. I was always striving, always working harder to meet ever higher standards for myself, and never feeling like I could ever quite get there. I felt like I was sliding down a slope of negativity and self-loathing that felt impossible to dig out of. I also found myself spending an inordinate amount of time searching for love, affirmation, and any indication that I was “ok”—often times from people who couldn’t fill that need even if they wanted to…not in any lasting way.
It is very easy to get buried under our mistakes, failures, personal limitations, and weaknesses. It is easy to think that if we can just work harder, do better, and maintain control of everything around us, maybe we can muscle through and find our way out of it.
There are times to see what I am made of and stick with something that may be hard to do, but there is also a time to acknowledge that I just can’t. Or that I didn’t. And that I won’t be able to. And I have to make a decision to receive the grace that God gives and find my way out of the piles of failures and mistakes by way of surrender to God’s work in my life.
It is good to be humbled.
I have learned that humility an essential part of soulfully-simplicity. In humility, I find a lightness of heart because I acknowledge that I am human, that I have a need for God’s grace in my life. If I won’t surrender, receive grace, and learn how to accept my own weaknesses and limitations (acknowledging that God is not finished with His work in me), I can’t possibly live graciously with others either, and I also can’t dig myself out of the self-loathing hole. None of this really hit home for me until I realized I have children whose eyes are on me every day, and they are taking cues and taking notes on how to navigate life from what I say and what I don’t say.
My children watch the way I talk about and treat myself. If I am never satisfied with my own efforts, and always dwelling on the ways I am not measuring up or not reaching my potential—they will internalize those same messages about themselves.
I want to suggest that you set down the burden you carry—especially as it relates to your own shortcomings—and ask God for His grace in your life. It’s not a big fanfare thing…it can be a quiet prayer of your heart to say, “I cannot hold the world together. I cannot fix myself or any of these situations around me, but You, Lord, are able. Help me let go of anything that keeps me from freedom and show me the way there.”
It may not happen overnight as all of life is a journey, but if you pursue simplicity from this angle, from this place in your heart, you will find incredible, indescribable treasures in the arms of God, the first of which is being freed from the need to be good enough. He is good enough for all.
“I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
“He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:2-3
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