Recently, I’ve been reading books and listening to podcast interviews with people who’ve accomplished incredible feats of creativity or athleticism that I can’t imagine ever doing. But here’s what they all have in common—with each other and with us. We and they all have suffered and failed miserably. We’ve suffered shame, humiliation, betrayal, weaknesses, addictions, abuse—and so have those who seem to tower over us. We and they need the grace of God. And Jesus’ words on the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” may hold the key to unlock grace for some of us who have struggled to grasp it, myself included. When we mess up, as we all do, the good news is God gives more grace.
Jesus Knows Us
To start with, Jesus knows all of our secrets and our weaknesses, yet he forgives us. Think about those words he spoke on the cross, “Father forgive them.” If Jesus can forgive those who nailed him to a tree, who betrayed and deserted him, couldn’t he forgive us? I believe he will. Jesus was interceding for us while on the cross, and he is still interceding for us according to Hebrews 7:25:
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
We always mess up, and he always intercedes. God knows what we are made of. Psalm 103:14 says, For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.
After the past two years, how can we not realize how fragile we all are? And yet I still try to handle life on my own at times, thinking I’m strong enough.
Realizing we are dust may sound like bad news, but it’s not. It’s good news. We aren’t expected to handle everything without God. God knows what we are and still forgives and strengthens us. Maybe if God can forgive us, we can forgive ourselves and stop berating ourselves for our failures.
Here’s a trivial example, but you can fill in your own shortcomings. This morning, I couldn’t find the stamps. I knew I had packed them the last time we spent the night with the grandkids because I wanted to mail a letter to my mom. In my mind, I started in on myself: “You’re so disorganized! You never put anything away! When will you ever change and learn how to keep house?” Until I stopped myself.
Stop the Self-condemnation
Romans 8:1 says, So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus (NLT). I could have used that verse to stop my negative thoughts, but instead, God used the Rich Roll podcast to help me. Author Mel Robbins has a simple, science-backed tool that interrupts the negative spiral. Just count down from five. That’s it, and it works. Use the scripture if you want, but when stressed, saying, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” might be easier to remember. I calmed down and found the stamps in no time, thinking, “Why did I make such a big deal about that?”
God Gives More Grace
When it comes to grace, God wins the contest. God gives us so much more grace than we give ourselves and others. And many times, we give others much more grace than we give ourselves. Whether it’s with a scripture or a countdown, stop the self-flagellation and give yourselves and others more grace. We all need a little extra right now.
Any suggestions on how to forgive ourselves and others? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
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