I’ve been thinking a lot about how I view God. Most of us instinctively attribute our own father’s qualities onto our heavenly Father. It’s one thing to know that is often the case — it’s another beast altogether to actually try to articulate our beliefs.
Nearest I can figure, I view God as someone who is disappointed by anything less than perfection. In my head, the grace to achieve perfect behavior for the day is there, and when I fail (daily), the problem is me. I have not applied the graces perfectly, and so God is eternally disappointed in me. No matter if I have progressed in virtue so that I am more patient now with my children than I was five years ago (I am) or if I’m awakening to other areas of my life that need reform and am taking wobbly first steps to sanctity, the fact that today I am not perfect is, in my head, a perpetual divine disappointment.
Clearly, this is not the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus doesn’t look at the woman at the well (the one with five husbands) and shake his head at her, saying, “Well, you knew it was wrong. I’m disappointed in you.” In fact, we read about Jesus truly seeing people, brokenness included, and responding with compassion and love. He is not repulsed by their spiritual and physical infirmities. There is no mention in the Bible of his recoiling. There is no verse where Jesus Christ wrinkles up his nose in disgust. There are no harangues to the penitent about how they should have done better. No, somehow Jesus sees the beautiful hiding behind (in?) the imperfect. His vision is far different from the world’s, far removed from mine.
Jesus loves. He heals. He came to reveal the Father–and our Father is love.
Would that I would treat myself as He would treat me! Would that I could learn to see the beautiful in the imperfect!
First and foremost, I can’t just try my way to holiness. There is only one avenue, and that is Jesus’ healing embrace. What I can do is bring myself to him over and over. Second, I ought not to condemn that which Jesus does not condemn. He came not to condemn, but to save sinners. It makes no sense for me to execute myself when He rejoices in being my savior.
What do we do if we have this ingrained sense of God as disappointed critic? Get to know Him. Read the Gospels over and over. Let the words of Jesus sink deeply in our souls. Meet Him in the sacraments. Spend time with Him in Adoration. Pray for an eternal perspective. We could follow the example of a friend of mine, who keeps a photograph of himself as a child in his office as a visual reminder to treat his adult self as gently as he would that child.
As Christians, we often talk about how we are to be Jesus to the world. Let’s be Jesus to ourselves, imperfect though we may be: seeing our innate beauty and full of compassion and love.
Copyright 2018 Amanda Woodiel