Living in a perpetual state of repentance is the way to change. We are always in brokenness and there is nothing that keeps our hearts tender like saying we’re sorry, turning around and repenting for the things we have done. It is true you make mistakes every day. Why would you not want to live in repentance? The alternative is to not pay attention to the things you are doing wrong or to rationalize and try to convince yourself and others that the things you have done are not that bad. When you put it that way, it seems like there is only one option.
Grace is the only real transformative currency. You have probably learned by now that judging, criticizing and shaming people does not really produce great results. It may change people’s behavior, but in the long run, it just produces more and more shame. You shame your kids, then they feel ashamed and shame their kids. The way out is to find grace for yourself, and you will at that same time find it for others. To some of you, this may seem like cheap grace or “letting people off the hook,” but what else is there? I dare you to try it. Are you holding back on receiving grace for yourself?
You will be able to forgive others as soon as you are ready to accept forgiveness for yourself. The things we do not forgive in others are the same things we refuse to forgive in ourselves. Alternatively, as soon as you are ready to receive grace into your greatest shame, you will be able to offer the same to another. If you can be forgiven then so can I, and vice versa. Grace reaches both of us at the same time; it is the great equalizer.
When you learn to trust, I believe you will begin to trust EVERYONE. Now most of us choose who we trust, which is wise in a way, especially when you are talking about actually entrusting yourself to people. But I believe you can also learn to trust the people who have hurt you continually and will continue to do so. Trusting those who have hurt you looks like this: forgiving them and giving them over to their own devices.
So much of our stress must come from this mentality of scarcity, which is borne of the belief that there is not enough. There is never enough time, money, energy, love, so we hunker down and protect what we do have. We have this irritability that springs from the belief that if we do not fiercely guard our space, time, energy and money, someone will come and take them from us. It’s true: people will take what you give them, and there is also this ethic of going the extra mile and forgiveness.