When you see your child’s number appear on your phone in the middle of a school day, it’s usually not a great sign. Worse when the voice on the other end is in tears. The first thought in my mind was, “Who’s hurt? What’s broken?” (thankfully no one and nothing). Instead, I heard the story of a foolish mistake that resulted in negative (but necessary) consequences, leaving a wake of regret and embarrassment.
Throughout the day, text messages came at me, asking if I was disappointed, convinced that others were disappointed, determined that we should be disappointed. The reality was, the disappointment came from within.
Finally the words came out, “I just can’t forgive myself.” Ah, there it is. It’s not that others hadn’t forgiven. In fact, grace was abundant. Yet there was a determination to continue to stand in judgment of himself, refusing grace.Sometimes, we’re the only ones keeping us from the grace we need.
Why do we do this?
We are hard wired for justice. The world tells us we don’t get things for free. There should be punishment for our failure. It feels right somehow to call ourselves to task. Someone must pay.
We forget Someone already has.
So we don’t allow ourselves to grab hold of the grace offered to us in times of failure. It’s our own negative self-talk that keeps us in a place of condemnation instead of resting in grace. Judge and jury hold court in our own heads. While others hold out forgiveness, we hold ourselves just beyond its grasp.
We keep ourselves in chains, when we are called live freely.If the voice in our heads says we are out of reach of grace, it’s not God talking.
So what do we do? We claim what’s true.
I reminded my son there is only one Person in the world who has the right to judge us, and He has already made the ruling on our sin, failure, and weakness. No condemnation. Free and forgiven. Nothing we do surprises Him because He saw it before it happened. He sees more failure in us than we see, and He still forgives. Therefore, nothing makes Him withdraw grace. If He has declared us free, then our job is to agree with Him, and let ourselves off the hook.
Where our pride keeps us from owning our humanity, and shame chains us as unworthy, we must humbly accept that we are who we are-fallen people in need of grace.
Humility. Acceptance. Agreement.
Repeat and repeat and repeat, until His becomes the truest voice in our heads, overpowering our lies. This is how we unchain ourselves, and walk freely the grace we need every day.