Be kind to yourself.
It’s the healing mantra these days. We have rightly learned that if we mentally beat ourselves up for our failures and mistakes if will undoubtedly bubble over onto others. However are we really capable of doing these things for ourselves? Can we really heal ourselves? How can we be kind to ourselves if we don’t know what kindness is? How can we forgive ourselves if we have never experienced forgiveness?
That’s the beauty of what Jesus came and did for us. He showed us how to love, but most of all he loved us. Even when he was being tortured to death, he maintained a constant attitude of love, kindness and caring because God is love (1 John 4.8). As he crawled along the street to his death, he took time to warn the women weeping for him that they their rebellion put them in imminent danger. He forgave his tormentors as they murdered him. He pushed himself up perhaps with splinters from the roughly carved beam driving in into the torn muscles on his lacerated back to forgive the thief and assure entrance into heaven.
While a deep sorrow and frustration for our own mistakes and imperfections is a catalyst for change, no amount self torture whether physically, emotionally or mentally inflicted can free us from these defects. When the great reformer, Martin Luther, realized his failures he set about to right them with a rigid schedule of beatings Bible study and humiliation. This regimen only brought him deeper into depression as his efforts proved futile. Then his friend, Staupitz, brought him good news. He told Luther,
“Instead of torturing yourself on account of your sins, throw yourself into the Redeemer’s arms. Trust in Him, in the righteousness of His life, in the atonement of His death…. Listen to the Son of God. He became man to give you the assurance of divine favor.” “Love Him who first loved you.” (The Great Controversy p. 123)
It is only by God’s love that we are saved. His great love for us and it washes away our guilt therefore we must by faith enter boldly into his presence.
“This High Priest [Jesus] of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” Hebrews 4:15-16 (New Living Translation, italics supplied).
As we see the way he loves us we learn to love him back. Indeed we learn what love is and what it looks like in action because God is love.
As I see a god so willing reach out to His creation in loving tenderness, I marvel. The depth of His love is so profound. I reach out to Him. I let His love flow over me. I observe His gentle patience with my mistakes. How he keeps lifting me up again and again without fail. I accept the wealth of His forgiveness instead of paying penance with abusive thoughts. I allow the sorrow and guilt that plagues me to bring me to the presence of Jesus, so I can be made whole. Only then can I love others with that patient unfailing love. Yes, it just bubbles over on to them like a fresh spring of water.
You have heard it said:
be kind to yourself; love yourself; forgive yourself,
but I say to you:
accept God’s forgiveness, receive His love, bask in His kindness.