Sometimes we can be our own worst critic! Often, it can be easier to overlook and excuse the mistakes of another, than allow ourselves the grace to be imperfect.
Why is this so?
Well, understanding the number one strategy of our biggest enemy will enlighten us. Satan is named of all things -”the accuser of the brethren,” which shows us that his number one mission is to cause us to feel negatively about ourselves. He loves to throw in our face all the mistakes we have made. He loves to point out our shortcomings and cause us to feel as though we have failed. Revelations 12:10, even tells us that he accuses us day and night. This attack is relentless!! A large part of his strategy is to use people and situations in our lives to reinforce this thinking, so that we are unable to move forward in life. That’s what condemnation does. It immobilizes us. When we feel badly about ourselves, our hope is deferred. When we feel shame or guilt, it’s natural to isolate, even from God. And that’s the very outcome satan loves.
Recently, I thought of a professor I had in college. She was the department head for my major so I had to take several classes with her every semester. Whenever I would turn in a paper, she would mark my pages in so much red you could barely tell it had been written on white paper. Across the top written in all capitals and with an overuse of exclamation points was the word – “REWRITE!!!!” I would work really hard on the paper and turn it in again, only to have it handed back the next week with more angry red marks and the word “REWRITE!!!” across the top. In one particular class, she was extremely unmerciful and this would happen four or five more times before my paper was finally handed back with the absence of red marks. This professor never gave me a grade until the end of the semester, so I could never tell my progress. I assumed I must be failing miserably for all the papers I had to rewrite. In one of her classes, literally every other student in the class dropped out and I was the only one left. So, now alone, the full wrath of the red pen was unleashed on me. In the end, even though my final grade turned out to be an A, the sting of constant criticism hindered me from rejoicing in it. Somehow, I was still left feeling that my best efforts hadn’t been good enough. As I look back, I can see how this was reinforced throughout my life in many ways and had affected even my relationship with God, early in my Christian walk.
Can you relate? Maybe you grew up in a negative household where you were constantly criticized and told all the wrong things you were doing. Maybe you didn’t receive a lot of criticism, but rather never given a word of praise or encouragement only to wonder if there were anything praiseworthy in your life. The Bible says in Proverbs 16:4 “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Each one of us needs encouragement.” This little walk down memory lane is not to stir up sorrow or bitterness towards anyone but rather recognize where some of your thinking may have come from and how it may have affected your life. Forgiving and releasing those who hurt you, will free you. Understanding yourself will help you to walk out of brokenness into a healthier lifestyle. It will free you to receive God’s grace in your life.
Whether you are your own worst critic, or you feel others are, the God of hope wants you to know that although we may be imperfect, we serve a perfect God, who loves us perfectly – even in our imperfections. So, the next time you find yourself slipping into condemnation and beginning to beat yourself up for what you could have done better or differently, give yourself a break! For God already has! He sent His son to pay the price for every mistake we made or ever would make and has covered us with His Perfect grace and mercy. I love Lamentations 3:22-23 which says: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” His love and mercy never run out. Receiving His mercy and love will bring tremendous healing and freedom. When those condemning thoughts begin to play like a broken record in your mind, see yourself breaking it to bits and pieces so it can never play again. Instead, allow yourself to receive God’s grace and mercy, and rest in His amazing love for you.