Many times in our lives we face moments of failure and feelings of inadequacy. It is in these moments that we often feel unworthy of love and forgiveness, especially God’s forgiveness. We will often wear the cloak of shame and guilt in our lives. When we do this it is very unhealthy for us spiritually and emotionally.
One of my many favorite passages in the scriptures is Mark 12:30,31.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
A key, yet often overlooked, component in this verse is “love yourself.” If you ever find that it is hard to receive the love or forgiveness of God (or others) it is often due to the manner in which you view yourself. We are often our own worst enemies. It is easy to criticize ourselves because we know our own shortfalls. We know our attitude, our efforts, our sins, our behavior, we know ourselves better than anyone else. We see our blemishes and our flaws.
Because of this knowledge, for some of us, loving ourselves and receiving love can be exceedingly difficult.
There are far too many scriptures to reference, but it is imperative that you know that God accepts you as you are. He has promised us His love regardless of our behavior, and He even promises to love us when our faith is weak. His love for us is amazing and full of grace and mercy. We may think we don’t deserve it and we are right. None of us deserve God’s love, yet He chooses to give it and we must choose to receive it. As Matt has been referencing in his sermons, love is a choice. It is our choice to give it and to receive it.
We are better equipped to love when we learn to receive it ourselves. I encourage you then to try a couple of simple practices when you are feeling “unworthy.”
- Simply acknowledge that you are unworthy and thank God for His love in spite of it. We are unworthy that is why love is such a beautiful gift.
- Take some time to identify why you are feeling this way. Journal, exercise, meditate, listen to music, figure out the “why” of your feelings and forgive yourself.
- Fall in love with who you are in Christ. You are not identified by what you do, you are identified by who you are. You are a forgiven child of the king, a new creation in Christ, you are being made into the likeness of God. Spend some time dwelling upon your position in Christ.
- Do the, “Would I say this to someone else?” test. Picture your child, grandchild, or your very best friend, someone you love the very most. Take the exact same words, thoughts, and feelings that you are thinking and feeling about yourself. Imagine that person and then say all those “words and feelings” to that person. Speak to them like you are saying those things about them. Most of us wouldn’t do that. If we wouldn’t say these things about someone else to their face, then we shouldn’t repeat them over and over again to ourselves.
These simple steps are in no way all inclusive or a quick fix. However, by changing the way we think about ourselves and granting ourselves forgiveness, we will be amazed at how this simple little practice helps us to receive the love of God and others in a more authentic manner.
Learning to choose to receive and give love takes time; be patient as God continues to transform you into a reflection of Himself!