My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves. 1 John 3:18-20 (MSG)
“I know how bad I’ve been; My sins are staring me down.” So go the lyrics of King David singing the blues in Psalm 51.
Anyone who has a conscience has felt the same weight. We know our shortcomings. We know our mistakes. They stare us in the face and haunt our thoughts and our dreams. The weight of guilt and shame easily gives way to “debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it.” Yet, that debilitating self-criticism can quickly become a paralysis of guilt and shame. We become so myopically focused on our mistakes and feelings of worthlessness that we miss the veritable plethora of daily opportunities to act out of love and kindness towards family, friends, loved ones, neighbors, and strangers.
(Confession: I’ve been given to a significant amount of navel gazing in recent weeks and it’s getting me down. So, this post is me writing to me.)
Practice love. Seek out a chance to do something nice. Work at showing kindness. If we expend the thought, time and energy to demonstrate loving kindness towards others, we counteract the paralyzing effect of shame, fulfill Jesus’ command, build the Kingdom of God, and feel better about ourselves at the same time.