My son can be very hard on himself. If he makes a mistake (and it doesn’t matter if it was accidental and entirely out of his control), the first thing he’ll say is “I am so stupid!” We have never used the word “stupid” about him or any of our other children. As a matter of fact, it is verboten to use the word about people in our home (inanimate objects are another story 😉 ). I have addressed this with Michael numerous times.
“Son, have we ever called you that name?”
“Please don’t say that about yourself,” I will say, as we work through a solution to whatever happened.
Is Michael a perfectionist? Perhaps a bit so. If he is, he comes by it honestly, because I had a very bad case of it in my earlier years. Perfectionism is not something about which one should pride themselves; but I will say that I think there is a part of each human being that is hard wired for perfection. Why do I say so? Because we were originally created to live in perfection. Eden was a perfect place. No weeds, no thorns, no death, no toil, no sin, no corruption of any kind. We lost the privilege of enjoying such a pristine environment, but we never lost the hankering for it.
Should we feel disappointment in ourselves because of our failings? Well, probably. Should we beat ourselves up about them? No. That is where the adversary steps in, goading us into a downward spiral of depression and self-deprecation. That is not where we should live, and I don’t let my son do it. This is what grace is for.
See, even after Michael understands his mistake and has made things right, he’ll often continue to talk to himself about it, and not encouragingly. Paul had a similar thing going on in the book of Romans, chapter 7:
14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19For the good that I would, I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
It is so frustrating, isn’t it? I know I should want to do right, but so often I find it is not easy…and sometimes it doesn’t immediately occur to me that there is another option but the usual fleshly response. This requires much more than turning over a new leaf or adopting some 12-step program. This requires a Deliverer. Paul knew who it was:
25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There is grace for all our failings and fallings. Not that we should be presumptuous, as Paul said “God forbid.” If we are living in a manner that testifies that it is easier to obtain forgiveness than permission, we need to examine our hearts and see where our true devotion lies…toward self, or toward God. But those who love the Lord and find themselves seeking forgiveness yet again, will find abundant mercy:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. ~Isaiah 55:7
Just as we desire to provide comfort and healing to our children when they come to us in tearful repentance, even so does our heavenly Father. He remembers we are made of dust. He understands it is so difficult for us to live in this fallen world, with fallen hearts and minds. He had mercy. Christ, our righteousness, made provision for us to enjoy perfection with Him. It will never come from our hands, for, just as Midas, we affect everything we touch…only, in our case, it all becomes corrupt, “filthy rags.”
When we accept God’s gift of grace, we have a sure hope that we will experience relief from all the imperfections of this life, without and within. can you imagine the elation? If ever there was a place that feels like home for the Christian, it will be Heaven. I like what McCheyene wrote:
When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.
When the praise of Heav’n I hear,
Loud as thunders to the ear,
Loud as many waters’ noise,
Sweet as harp’s melodious voice,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.
Oh, that will be glory for me!