What would it look like if you lived with joy & freedom instead?

harsh

So last week I received very good news. The kind of news that deserves to be celebrated. So Patrick and I went to a local restaurant and has us a culinary feast. The food was delicious, and our conversation lighthearted.

But the moment I left the restaurant, I lost my joy.

The dinner had been pricey. And I berated myself for choosing an expensive entree. How could I do such a thing when we were working on savings and trimming the fat from our budget? Earlier that week, I shopped at Aldi, careful only to buy what we needed. The trip had been a triumph of frugality. The dinner out? Not so much.

As I neared sleep that night, I wondered what my life would be like without the mean bully (me) hollering things my way every time I make a perceived mistake?

Blessed freedom, it would be. Freedom to celebrate when celebration is called for. Freedom to make mistakes. Freedom to be wildly loved by God whether or not I lived up to my very high expectations of myself. (Am I preaching to the choir here? Do you ever feel this way? Or am I hopelessly a mess?)

Joy becomes hopelessly elusive when we tie it to our performance. (Click to tweet this.) It becomes possible when we tie it to Jesus’ life. How did Jesus interact with folks who didn’t measure up? He loved them lavishly. He listened. He dignified. Why would we think He is different today? Why do we believe that Jesus loves them and her and him more than He loves us?

Probably because we are well acquainted with our own shortcomings. We are our own worse critics, and we believe it’s somehow godly to berate ourselves, as if personal shunning and demeaning accomplished holiness.

It’s God’s KINDNESS that brings change, not harsh judgment. (Click to tweet this.) If that is true (and it is), then why do we harshify ourselves, thinking it will produce change?

It’s time to be model Jesus, to be kind to ourselves, tenderhearted and winsome. (Can I hear an amen?)

That’s the secret to freedom and joy in this life. To dare to believe that God not only loves all those other people on earth, but that He also flat out loves US. The scripture says we love because He first loved us.

Maybe we struggle to love ourselves because we have a faulty understanding of His love for us.

Here’s the truth: We are all flawed. We all make mistakes. We all sin. We all fall short of what we want for ourselves. The constant truth running through this is simply God’s affection despite our complicated foul ups.

Perhaps it’s just a simple choice. That instead of hitting myself over the head (and heart) with, “How dare yous” and “You should’ves,” I simply silence that voice and repeat this: The God who made the stars loves me affectionately. (Click to tweet this.) He delights in me. And then let it rest there. Joy and freedom will, no doubt, follow.

What about you? Has this been a struggle for you? How have you learned to be kind to yourself?

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