Messing up is exhausting. Guess who didn’t wear her glasses to school again today? I mean, seriously! Four weeks ago I started this series talking about my sweet Amelia and how both of us forget to be sure she’s wearing her important reading glasses to school. I don’t pay close attention to these details and I forget stuff like this a lot, so a few years ago I fell into a pattern of calling myself “stupid” and “an idiot” and “the worst mom” as punishment for my failures. And I tell you what, that self-shame didn’t improve my performance. In fact, it did nothing but make me feel horrible and act ugly toward others.
(Click here–>The Prerequisite to Empowering Others)
Just like most people, I would rather hide the ugly and weak parts of me than feel exposed. I don’t want to put myself in a vulnerable position where others might see these things and think less of me. You know…like in a blog post…on the Internet…for all the world to see! But as a reader, when do you feel the most connected to me as the writer of this blog? When I have all the answers and look good, strong and competent? Or when I tell real stories that expose my honest thoughts, feelings, weaknesses and the ways I mess up?
When do you suppose others feel most connect to you?
How Do You Love?
Love is such a confusing word. We love a great burger and we love our parents. We can be in love with that dress and in love with that man in my arms. But when I’m talking about loving others despite how I feel, I’m talking about a certain kind of love.
It’s not a pressure-filled love that comes from a place of shame. I’m talking about a kind of love that comes from a heart that knows what it’s like to be forgiven. It’s the kind of love that longs for others to experience the freedom of forgiveness, too!
And how do we know if we’re sharing that kind of love?
“We don’t believe something by merely saying we believe it, or even when we believe that we believe it. We believe something when we act as if it were true.”
— Dallas Willard (Renovation of the Heart)
take an honest look at your situation,
take responsibility for what you’ve done or not done,
and then you…
bask in the freedom of forgiveness rather than beating yourself up,
You are uniquely qualified and able to invite others into that kind of love, too! Because you are acting on what you believe.
Every time I feel exposed and have the urge to beat myself up with my thoughts and words, I have to ask myself again – what do I believe? Is it better to beat myself up when I mess up or to step into the light of love that exposes the reality of my situation and warms my heart to accept responsibility so I can also accept forgiveness and help? Which of these scenarios compells me to love others well?
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4. Boldly go and display this light of love by inviting others to be honest, allowing them to take responsibility for their mistakes or wrong-doing and then demonstrate your love and forgiveness for them.
It’s not easy or comfortable to invite others to be honest and allow them to take responsibility for what they’ve done or not done. It’s way more comfortable to say, “it’s OK” and try to make them feel better about themselves than it is to actually say, “I forgive you.”
It’s hard to ask for forgiveness and harder still to offer forgiveness. But when you’ve basked in the warmth that love and forgiveness provides, you know it’s more powerful than being defensive, making exuses or punishing yourself. Will you take the easy route or will you press in and dig deeper to both receive and offer real grace and forgiveness? It is, after all, the prerequisite to truly empowering others.
What is more compelling than that kind of love?