Love When I Mess-Up

Text: James 3:2a
For all of us make many mistakes. (NRSV)

I think of this verse often when I ponder the second of the Great Commandments from Jesus. Jesus says that the second of the greatest commands of God is to love your neighbor as yourself.  

I think it is hard for many of us to actually love ourselves.  I know that I have the tendency to beat myself up over small mistakes let alone the big ones.  I tell myself that I know I am loved by God unconditionally and forgiven by God.  But the fact that I let the mistakes play repeatedly in my head, really reveals that I have not loved myself unconditionally or forgiven myself.

This text from James has helped me with that.  It has normalized the fact that I am not alone in making mistakes.  James is not pointing his figure at those to whom he is writing, James is saying we ALL make mistakes.  Actually, what he says is that all of us make MANY mistakes.  I have the words “all of us” and “many” underlined in my Bible.

I don’t use the fact that we all make many mistakes as an excuse to make more mistakes but, I do use it as a source of permission to not be so hard on myself when I do.  My mistakes no longer have the power to cause me to withhold love and forgiveness from myself.  Instead, I am given permission to shake it off and learn from my mistakes so that I can continue showing God’s love to others as one who has myself been forgiven.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that the command to love others is based on the need to love one’s self.  I believe that the ability to love others who also make many mistakes is only available when I recognize my own brokenness and receive the unconditional love of God. This love with which God loves me, allows me to love myself as I truly am; not some unrealistic version of myself that is perfect and worthy of love but, as one who makes many mistakes and is still loved by God.

Pray with me:

Perfect and loving God, thank you for the love you pour out on me when I am not perfect.  Thank you for the gift of love that gives me the capacity to love myself even when I make mistakes along the way.  Thank you for the gift of love that gives me the capacity to love others with that same love.  AMEN.

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