We are less than perfect. It is obvious when you look at other people. Even the finest of people. There are people with brilliant minds and poor habits. There are kind people who wrestle with their self-criticism. There are successful people marked by pride. Without meaning any disrespect, even the people we love can fail to listen, be impatient, or selfish. As the English poet Alexander Pope noted in his poem “An Essay on Criticism”, “To err is human”. We all make mistakes.
What do we do with this? When younger it was simpler. We considered people good or bad, heroes or villains. For a time, our parents were heroes, they could do no wrong. Then they were villains, their faults acutely evident. With
What do we do with this? The full quote from Pope’s poem is of course “To err is human, to forgive divine”. We all make mistakes. God’s response is to show compassion, mercy and forgiveness. This is the Christian view of God:
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Pope implies we are invited to do the same. Again, a very Christian view of life; forgive, as God has forgiven you. This is how we love the whole person, in all their glory and shame, through compassion, mercy and forgiveness.
When we examine ourselves, it is also clear we are imperfect. I note many are harsh critics of themselves. Their self-talk is brutal, their self-expectations inhumane. This phenomenon is on the increase with the rise of personal expectations and perfectionism. It can be impossible to live with yourself, when your mind is so unkind. What do you do with this? It could help considerably if you give to yourself what God gives you and you give others. Learn to show compassion, mercy and forgiveness for your own self too.
Things to practice – daily
If you are finding you are your own worst critic, you probably should see someone for help (Pastor, Psychologist, Counselor). Here are a few further thoughts that could help…
- Read Scriptures which remind you of God’s love for you as His child (Romans 8, 1 John 3);
- Practice thankfulness for all the good God gives and works through you, instead of rehearsing what is wrong;
- Allow yourself to receive other people’s thanks and encouragement
- Accept the blessings of not being “perfect” – it teaches humility, it means we depend on God (2 Cor 12:9), it grows us…
- Ask yourself “what can I learn”? Our faults are opportunities to grow, not criticise. Condemnation seems to crush us, not help us.