being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Never Beyond: On Giving Myself a Second Chance Every Day
This post is a response to the Never Beyond poster series from People of the Second Chance. The question: Who would you forgive?
All week I’ve been posting on Grace, Forgiveness, and Second Chances.
If I had two personalities, I’m sure that one would be named Judgmental Jackie and the other would be named Martha the False Martyr.
Here’s a conversation the two women would have regularly:
JJ: Wow Martha, you sure slept in late today. Do you plan on even doing anything today?
MM: You’re right. I stayed up too late last night. The day’s almost over. I might as well go back to bed.
JJ: You know, I have this friend who has ten children. She gets up at 5, nurses her baby, gets breakfast going, has her children ready to go by six. Then they all have devotions at the kitchen table before sitting down to a five-course breakfast. She also homeschools and all her children play at least three instruments. They’re very intelligent. The three oldest ones are spelling bee champions. I think she only cooks whole foods, in fact, I’m sure she does. Her children are all so well-behaved, polite and responsible. She and her husband have the perfect marriage. They never argue and they’re so happy. Even though she’s had ten children, she still looks as fit and young as she did on the day she graduated from high school. I think she’s working on writing her third novel too. She’s amazing. You could never be like her.
MM: You’re right. I’m a terrible mother, a terrible wife, and just an all around terrible person.
JJ: You know what you need? More prayer time. More devotion time. More Bible study. I’m pretty sure that you aren’t doing all you can to be closer to God. You’d better work on that. I have a friend who is a missionary overseas and she cares for orphans. She’s pretty amazing. You could never be like her.
MM: You’re right. I’m a terrible Christian. I could try and try and try and I’ll never be as good as your overseas missionary friend.
JJ: You know what else? Your house is a wreck. Why can’t you keep it clean? It’s amazing that you can get anything done in this house. You need a schedule. You need to clean more.
MM: I am a pig. An awful, terrible, no good, can’t do anything right pig.
JJ: There’s something else I’ve noticed about you Martha. You have a lot of anger. You yell a lot. You aren’t patient. When you do yell, you are very, very mean. You’re also very ungrateful. Don’t you know that people would kill to have what you have? But you’re just so angry all the time.
MM: I’m a terrible, terrible human being.
JJ: And you remember how you were such a terrible friend to that one girl when you were in middle school? You were so mean to her! You talked behind her back. You made fun of her to other people. You pretty much ruined her life. Even though you haven’t talked to her in years, you probably made her lose faith in all humanity and are the reason why she can’t have healthy friendships.
MM: Wow. I didn’t even think about how badly I might have hurt her. How can anyone even like me? I can’t believe that anyone is even my friend.
JJ: I’m pretty sure you’re the worst person ever.
MM: I’m pretty sure you’re right.
All day long, Judgmental Jackie would verbally quarterback sack Martha the False Martyr.
All day long, Martha the False Martyr would believe it all, take it to heart, and fall into a very deep depression because she was such a terrible, weak, unloved, ugly human being.
Do you ever tell yourself your own set of lies? Do you find yourself believing those lies?
I have hated myself more than anyone else ever could.
I have disappointed myself in so many ways. I haven’t lived up to the unattainable perfection I’ve expected of myself. I accuse myself almost every day of not being smart enough or good enough or Christian enough or diligent enough or whatever enough.
I am the accused. I am my own judge, jury, bailiff, and prosecutor. Every day, I’m on trial.
And every day, I give myself the same sentence, “GUILTY!”
Guilty of pride. Guilty of anger. Guilty of disbelief. Guilty of lust. Guilty of hatred. Guilty of doing what I shouldn’t and not doing what I should. Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.
At the end of every trial I throw myself into the cell of false rehabilitation in the prison of if you just try harder.
But my verdict doesn’t matter.
Because forever and always I wear a crown on my head that says, “NOT GUILTY!” And underneath it says, “Debt is Paid In Full”.
By my standards I am an utter failure. A mess. Unforgivable.
By God’s standards I am loved. I am chosen. I am Forgiven.
I have to stop living in my self-made prison of lies and accusations.
I have to believe what God says about me, not what I say about me.
I have to believe that I am never beyond his extension of grace, that I am never beyond his healing touch, that I am never beyond his using me to glorify himself.
I have to forgive myself for being human. Because He has.
He’s paid for my fallen humanity.
He’s paid for yours too.