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One of the most convicting moments of my life came in the form of a comment made by my son. I can’t quite remember what it was we were doing. A mundane task. Folding laundry I think. My son made a minor mistake. I heard him groan and looked over just in time to see him roll his eyes. “I’m an idiot.” I nearly dropped the shirt in my hands as my head whipped around to look at him. “KJ! You are not an idiot. Don’t talk about yourself like that.”

“Sorry,” he responded sincerely. I turned back to the task at hand, racking my brain for where in the world that comment had come from. I didn’t need to think long, as a montage of my own harsh self-talk moments came to mind. I felt sick.

When had that kind of self-talk started, I wondered? If I’m honest, probably somewhere around junior high, when peer pressure begins to seep into even the most confident of people, and self-esteem takes a step or two back. I’d been making comments to myself like that for years. Usually in my head, but sometimes aloud. As I sat there, I became acutely aware of all the times I’d torn myself down verbally in my son’s presence. It seemed so silly that something needed to be said in order to remind me that my son was watching me.

I sighed, disappointed in myself, and I could feel the urge to scold myself creeping up my spine, but what good would that do, as it literally was the source of the problem to begin with. Pushing the urge aside, I struggled to find a proper response. As I did so, I felt the Holy Spirit press the question upon my heart: “Do I talk like that to you?” Sigh. “No, ” I  ventured. “Then why do you talk like that to you? “ Ouch.

I’m sure I’m not alone in my tendencies to be less than generous with myself. It will never cease to amaze me how cruel and unfeeling we can be with someone who is so familiar. Or perhaps we are cruel and unthinking because the person staring in the mirror is so familiar. We know them so well. All their dreams, their quirks, their flaws.

It can be hard to remember this, but God knows every inch of you too; perhaps even better than you know yourself. Every tucked away dream, every carefully buried wound, every biting and nasty thought you’ve ever had about yourself or someone else. And still, He loves you. Still, He calls you His. Still He wants to shower you with love, grace, and mercy.

And God is, well, He’s God. Without flaw, all seeing, all knowing. So if the Being who knows you far better than anyone else ever will, the only one who has any right or room to judge, chooses instead to embrace you, to sing over you, to lavish you in His love and blessings, remember to allow yourself grace and gentleness. “Showing God’s love” is a popular Christian saying. But don’t allow its place as a commonplace phrase to fool you into thinking showing God’s love isn’t something you’re meant to do for yourself.

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 New International Version

You are loved.

Brianna Richardson

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