Get over yourself.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
The season of Lent (40 observation days leading up to Easter) is not wholly about ashes and sackcloth, mea culpa, mea culpa, in sorrowful repentance of our sins. Lent is a time to focus deeply on the examination of conscience, to look deeply at our thoughts, fears, desires, as well as our words and deeds – scrutinizing our attitudes and every decision, big and small, that we make each day. This is a time that we should devote to the Socratic maxim, “Know thyself.” And when we take a really good look at ourselves, our conclusions should not be that we are stupid, useless or worthless – just as our conclusions should not be that we are superior to all other human beings, utterly magnificent in everything that we say and do. We are utterly magnificent in one regard: God created us in Divine image and likeness and loves us enough to take on our humanity and die for us. For this sacred reason, no human being is worthless.
For this sacred reason – and for this sacred reason alone – every human being is valuable, is precious. We may think that God loves us because we have professed belief in His Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ and/or because we do good things that are helpful to others. But, that’s not why God loves us. God doesn’t love me because I smile despite being physically disabled and in a wheelchair. God doesn’t love you because you praise His Holy Name from a pulpit or in a blog. God doesn’t love them because they are poor and simple or them because they are successful and generous. God loves each and every human being because God loves each and every human being. God loves because that’s what God does, because that is exactly who God is. We have done nothing, and can do nothing, to deserve or merit God’s love – because God has already done it for us. We are lovable precisely because God independently chooses to bring us into being through His Own Creative Love, to sustain us through His Grace, and to heal, redeem, and sanctify us through His Only Begotten Son.
We should never think of ourselves as any more than this. And we should never think of ourselves as any less than this. Being able to grasp the reality of who we are is, well, beyond our grasp – but we come closest when we remember that God loves every human being. You know that person who really hurt you and doesn’t even seem to realize how badly, even though you tried to explain it to her? God loves that person intimately and infinitely. You know that person who is always so arrogant and says such terribly cruel things about other people? God loves that person intimately and infinitely. God takes no joy in their sins – God takes no joy in our sins – but He eternally loves sinners. That means that God eternally loves us, each and every human being no matter what we do, no matter how badly we screw up His Commandments or how well we keep them. The question that God needs to have answered is the very question that we need to ask ourselves: will we allow God to love us?
Maybe you thought that I was going to write that the question is whether or not we will choose to love God. I thought about it. But, then I wordlessly remembered in my heart (or the wordless memory was pushed forward for me) that we love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). The only reason at all that I can love anyone or anything is because God loves me. So, even if I want to love God, I must first let God love me. What does that mean? What does that mean…? It means that I have to know who I am – who I truly, honestly, eternally am.
I am God’s beloved creation – as is every human being that has ever, and will ever, come into being. Not me alone – all of us. I do not need to think of myself any more highly than this to be completely and utterly fulfilled in joy and goodness, in the greatness of destiny. And I do not need to think of myself any lower than this to please the One Who loved me into existence. Yes, I have, independently according to freewill, chosen to be unloving at times, many times, through my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault – and by so doing I have sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do. These moments of self-centered decision, these sins, are when I did not allow God to love me – I did not allow God to lead me in my choices (for, all-loving God will always lead us to the best place for us) and I did not allow God to love my fellow human beings, to love all of His Creation, through me. Somehow, in some way, I said “No” to Divine Will, which is Divine Love, and that is why I am sorrowing here, that is why I am dissatisfied, that is why I am longing for forgiveness and mercy and newness of life. Forgiveness and Mercy and Newness of Life is precisely what God wants to give to me through His Love. Will I choose to receive?
I am only human, and, as such, I can only do so much. But, God can do everything. Will I let Him? Because the thing is… God loves me enough never to force me.