Quit Punishing Yourself
by Jeanette Levellie
One day at the end of a time of prayer, I asked God to tell me what favor I could do for Him. His answer shocked me: “Quit punishing yourself.”
As I pondered this strange-sounding request from the One who loves me most, I understood why the Lord would ask this favor. How many times had I:
- Allowed the enemy to condemn me for a mistake or sin, wallowing in remorse and pity for days
- Tried to make up for past sins by denying myself something I liked
- Taken responsibility for someone else’s failures
If I trust that the blood of God’s Son, Jesus, is enough to eradicate my shame and guilt, why would I feel it necessary to punish myself? I was unconsciously telling the Lord, “I appreciate your gift, but I need to supplement it with self-abasement.”
I say I believe God’s grace is sufficient for my every blunder, foolish act and wicked deed. I need to love myself enough to prove I believe it. So I made a pledge to receive God’s love by inviting His grace into the areas in which I was tempted to punish myself:
- When Satan came calling with waves of regret over past errors, I would quote Romans 8:1-2 and sing praises for the Lord’s forgiveness. I will even say to myself, “Jeanette, I forgive you.”
- When I was tempted to think I needed to jump through 15 hoops so God would approve of me, I would remind myself of the woman caught in adultery, to whom Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way and sin no more” (John 8:11).
- When a close friend or relative messed up, I’d be willing to hold them accountable and not feel responsible for their poor choices.
It’s not easy, this practice of living out my belief that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough for me. I have to work at it every day. But I’m willing to quit trying to make myself right in God’s eyes by my own puny efforts. When I believe and receive His grace, I grow in beauty. It’s a favor I give not only Jesus, but also myself. Won’t you join me on this walk of grace?
A spunky redheaded pastor’s wife, Jeanette Levellie is the author of four books and hundreds of published articles. She is the wife of one, mother of two, grandmother of three, and waitress of two (cats). Find her mirthful musings at www.jeanettelevellie.com