I was once playing “Guess Who?”—the old-school version, none of this electronic nonsense I’ve seen in Target lately—and when the game ended, I realized I’d messed up somewhere.
The two faces staring back at me didn’t mesh with what my opponent had on his board. It was an innocent mistake, an error somewhere along the way, but my opponent looked across the kitchen table from me and said, “You’re a cheater.” Not “You cheated,” not “You should have lost.” It wasn’t a frustrated complaint about the game or how it ended or even about the mistake I had made; it was a statement about my character, about who and what I was. A cheater? Me?
I was just a kid then; I’ve since made much bigger mistakes, intentionally and not. I’ve lied, I’ve been mean, I’ve ignored the sick and thirsty. I’ve broken and lost things that didn’t belong to me, I’ve misunderstood people, and I’ve failed to follow through on responsibilities. All along, I’ve responded to those mistakes by believing, “Something is wrong with me.”
Long ago, I accepted Jesus’ salvation but not his forgiveness. I figured he would let me into heaven because I believed he was God’s son, but I didn’t consider myself a worthy recipient of his kindness and love. I am a sinner, no doubt—my natural inclination is to run away from God and his ways, but sometimes I live as if God’s story of the world begins in Genesis 3 with sin and with the fall. I forget about Genesis 1, when we were created and God called us good.
Jesus believes me worthy because he created me. I am his daughter. That’s all it takes.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” —Acts 3:19 (NIV)
When I replay a mistake over and over in my head, I am punishing myself for something that God did not intend for me to take the punishment for.
Sometimes I say I should give myself more grace, but nowhere in Scripture does it say that we need to give grace to ourselves. Jesus has already extended grace to us; all we can do is accept it. We can’t generate more grace from our own empty wells and broken cisterns.
The reality is that if I can’t forgive myself for a mistake, I have not yet fully accepted Jesus’ grace for me.
He doesn’t stand above me with his arms crossed, a wagging finger, a heavy sigh, wondering if I will ever learn. He embraces me with love, kindness, and forgiveness.
The above is an excerpt from Who We Are: a 5-day Devotional About What It Means to Be Forgiven, Free, and Enough. It's a free download for subscribers of The Drafting Desk! Get your copy by signing up here.