It wasn’t until I began to understand God’s kindness towards me, that I began to extend that kindness to myself.
I found a quote from C.S. Lewis, that I customarily transferred into the opening page of each new journal I began – I did this for years, until the quote stuck fast in my heart,
The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men. – C.S. Lewis, “Surprised by Joy.”
I grew up viewing God as continually disappointed with my lack of perfection. Something, I’m sure carried over from my childhood. Born in the late 50s, I was raised in the post WWII era, where everything in life, was tied – somehow – to my ability to live in response to the wonderfulness of my culture. A culture that had been protected by great, hardworking people. Many of them, gave their lives to protect me from the tyranny of Communism. I owed them my best.
Born with a temperamental inclination towards rule following, I mostly did a good job of being perfect, at least in my parents’ view. I was able to hold up the façade for some time.
Then the first big failure in college – then a series of choices, that compounded the failure – then the oppression of hiding my lack of perfection. And so, the ball of self-judgment and disappointment began to roll. It was easier to hide from God (and my parents) than admit my imperfection.
Then a season of desperation, and I returned to God in humility. In my weakness, I found Him to be a loving, forgiving God. A God that gently smiled when I explained the events that took me down the road, away from His light. He never beat me up, and has kindly guided me along my way.
Why are we so hard on ourselves, when God isn’t? Why do we insist on pursuing the image of who we think we’re supposed to be? I think the problem is that there’s still a little bit of the Garden of Eden in us. I think the problem is perfectionism.
When you think of it, perfection is in our DNA. We were created perfect, and designed to live in a perfect place, experiencing a perfect relationship with our Creator. Deep inside we KNOW perfection is the goal. But here’s the truth, we’re all on a journey to that GOAL. In theology, it’s called the Process of Sanctification. And here’s the kicker, God knows. He gets it.
At this writing, we’re right in the middle of Holy Week. The events of Christ’s betrayal, torture, and death, are upon us. As we walk through the ancient ritual of remembering what was done on our behalf, I believe we are required to show ourselves kindness. If God thought we were worth Christ’s great sacrifice, shouldn’t we live people who believe it too?
This week, ease up on the pressure, be kind to yourself, and rest in God’s love.