I am convinced that the hardest thing for us to do in the spiritual life, the life lived in the mind of Christ is this: to accept God’s love and forgiveness and to feel loved and forgiven in every cell and bone of our body. Our own self-concept and the world’s ways of doing things keep us from enjoying this free gift from God to each one of us. We hold that love and forgiveness at arm’s length from us, because we do not feel worthy. We were created in His image; no matter what we’ve done or said or what was done to us, we are children of God, first and foremost. We are each the prodigal son or daughter for whom God is waiting with open arms and a restored place in His household. Or we are the elder brother or sister who has been a letter-of-the-law person, but has also never taken in God’s love.
Some of our problem comes from how we project onto God how our parents were with us or how other authority figures in our lives dealt with us. Some of the problem comes from our own early and pre-cognitive assessment of who we are vis-à-vis the demands those very people placed on imperfect children and how often we failed at following all their demands. We become stuck in the ego-centric view of the world we hold that God wants to punish us for our flaws, when, all the time, God is waiting for us right next to us/within us to wake up and find our own true selves in His arms, to repent and return to Him, loved and forgiven.
All of us humans carry this burden of being unloved; I might call it “the human condition.” We’re trying to make up for all that we are and have done; we’re trying to forget all that has happened to us. We are hiding from the truth of all that we are. But, the first step out of this lonely place is to acknowledge all that is true about us. “And the truth shall set us free!”  Everything that has happened to us, caused by ourselves or others, has affected our lives, who we are, how we think. And then, when we can admit to ourselves our flaws and good points, our sufferings and pain, the shadow sides of our personalities, we can stand in that truth, no longer defensive about it, no longer hiding it.  Jesus 1st Great Commandment says that we are to bring our whole selves to God in love: all our mind, all our heart, all our soul and all our strength, that is our faults, our talents, our sorrows and pain, all of who we are.
The second step is to decide that if God can love us with all our flaws and pain, then surely, we can love ourselves. And so, we begin to look at ourselves and all that was done to us and all that we have said and done in the light of love and forgiveness. Just accepting all that we are. And then forgiving ourselves. And forgiving anyone who wronged us.
And so, we then live with ourselves as we are. No longer defensive, no longer running from what has been in our lives, we begin to no longer take anything personally. Seeing what happens to us through this lens of love, we no longer are looking for who’s attacking us or trying to undermine us. We just are who we are. This is true humility—accepting ourselves just as we are, warts and all, not one bit better than anyone else. So then, whatever comes into our lives that we didn’t choose no longer is taken personally. It is simply what we need to deal with, no judgment implied or put on us.
Now we are standing before God in freedom and truth! And slowly His love seeps in through our own. Slowly, we wake up to His presence in everything, in every minute of the day. Slowly, we are gathering what has always been true—that we were our own worst enemy, because we could not see what was real and true about us—that there is never a time when we are not loved and forgiven by God; that there is never a time when we are without our God, that He is our constant companion. That we are always and forever loved. And WOW! What a revelation that is! At last we come home to the truth of our existence—that we are in God and God is in us—always, no matter what. It’s just that we couldn’t see it before because of the cloudy lenses of our own human condition.
The decision to love and to forgive oneself does not insure that we will feel Gods love for us, but it is the door through which that can happen; God can then make it happen with His healing as only He can. But once we can turn our own love on to ourselves, it is the beginning step in accepting that God loves and forgives us, surely.
Questions to ponder over the week: Can I actually feel God’s love for me or do I just think it is true? Am I able to love myself? To forgive myself? Will I take this first step, building on my knowledge, but not experience, of God’s love for me? Will I accept all that God has in store for me as the best things that will ever happen to me: His love, His forgiveness, His challenges, His grace, His blessings, His healings, His purpose for me, the way He created me to be?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who can love themselves and accept God’s love and forgiveness for us. May we, in turn, pour out all of God’s love and forgiveness that He has given to us on everyone we meet. May we live fully in God’s love.
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 Genesis 1:27
 Luke 15:11ff
 John 8:31-32
 God had Moses reduce the statue of Baal which the Israelites had made in his absence to a liquid which the Israelites had to drink—owning their own sin. Exodus 32:19-20.
 Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28
 1 John 4:7-21
 Matthew 28:20