On Forgiving Myself

It’s been a messy week.

I’m not talking about piles of laundry, sticky highchairs, the layers of dust that have settled on every surface in the house, the ongoing war in my living room between snack crumbs and dress up clothes, or my husband coming home to a disaster zone kitchen multiple times.  (Although, all of those things happen to be true)

Not the desperately-need-to-vacuum-my-van messy….

No, I’m talking about the dish-out-the-ice-cream-so-you-don’t-dish-out-the-guilt sort of messy.

-Letting the kids watch another show so I can change out of pajamas before dinner at least once this week
-The tone of my voice when my children aren’t sharing for the 347th time today
-The empty threats in response to disobedience because it was easier than shepherding their hearts
-Going through another day without truly focusing my heart on His Word because “I didn’t have time”
-Remembering to water the avocado tree but forgetting that it’s past time to feed my children lunch

This messiness has left me feeling like Pig Pen with an endless cloud of dust enveloping me.  And if I am honest with myself, I would say that with all of this mess that has taken up residence in my heart I can’t imagine for the life of me how a holy God could stand to reside there at all.

images-1 I keep adding to my mental list of failures and brick by brick I bury myself in guilt.  The “should-haves” taunt and suppress me.  They bring me to the place where I begin comparing my meager efforts and not quite successes to other mothers and wives.  And along the way I somehow morph all of these into one fearsome all-natural, organized, perfectly-toned, submissive, super-trendy, creative, and godly “has it all together” woman that I will never measure up to.  So I sit in my messy dust cloud of failure as guilt crushes me.

And from deep in my heart my guilt ridicules me as it reminds me of how much I’ve fallen short of the woman I long to be.  “She would have spoken gently to her children, she would have planned educational activities for her children every afternoon, she would have gotten up early to spend time wrestling in prayer for her family,  she would have cleaned her house and herself, she isn’t you…”

But in the middle of this self-inflicted condemnation Jesus wades through my mess and whispers, “Child, hope is here.”  He hears the cries of my broken, shameful heart and says,

“Forgive yourself.  I already have.
You don’t have to be perfect.  I already am.

And that grace, that Psalm 40:2 lifting-me-out-of-the-mirey-pit grace, washes over me in my weakest moments.  His grace finds me when I am hopeless and lost and reminds me of who He is.

“I am the renewer of your strength.
I am the shelter from this storm.
I have given you My Spirit to enable to you to accomplish all that I have for you to do.
You are not alone.  I am fighting this battle for you.
Lean on me.”

images-2And I am reminded that my messiness can turn away from the road to defeat if I choose to walk the path that leads to dependence instead. Messiness doesn’t have to mean failure when it inspires deep reliance on God.  In fact, messy hearts are ripe for Him to do a mighty work in and through us.  My weakness gives His strength the opportunity to renew mine.  And as I allow Christ to do His steadfast molding in me He changes much more than the messiness of my life….He changes me!

So I let God into my mess and invite Him to do the work on the inside that will make me into the woman He has called me to be, to clean out the guilt and transform my heart into a place where He truly delights in residing.  I remind myself that God doesn’t expect me to be the “has it all together” woman because He wants to “hold it all together” for me.

I rest in this hope, this grace….and forgive myself because I know that He has.  As His grace continues to pour out over me, the woman I have been comparing my miserable efforts to falls off the pedestal of perfection…  and standing in her place is my Savior.  And I realize that all along HE must be my standard, HE is the one I must pattern my life after, HE  already begun the good work in my life to make me more like Himself, and HE will carry it out until completion.

2 thoughts on “On Forgiving Myself

  1. Sarah Kidder says:

    Ashlee, thank you for sharing what your learning. I too have been bogged down by the “should haves” and “why aren’t yous” lately – so much so that I’m forgetting all that I am able to do because the negative is overpowering the positive. I needed this reminder today, “you don’t have to be perfect. I already am.” Again, thank you for sharing. Psalm 40:2 is going on my frige this afternoon. 🙂


  2. Kirt Schmidt says:

    “We’re not the best parents, not by far. We don’t have all the wisdom we’d like. We don’t understand how everything fits together. We make mistakes, we make messes, we can do everything wrong-but God looks at us with a Father’s delighted eyes. Where we see weakness, God sees humility. Where we see messes, God sees intent. Where we see failings, God sees motives. And he smiles. He takes us into hi arms. And laughs a delighted Father’s laugh.” Gary Thomas in Sacred Parenting; chapter three called The Gold Behind the Guilt.


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