We don’t have to be perfect

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed by the chaos of my life. There are so many things out of whack and that are extremely unpredictable right now. The last couple weeks, I’ve been dealing with some issues where I felt like I was being misunderstood and misrepresented. I was really struggling to forgive people for the things they did and said about me. It was eating away at me. It was literally all I could think about. I knew I needed to forgive. I knew that it was what Christ calls us to do. I knew that He tells us to forgive seventy times seven times. But it wasn’t enough. I was still clinging to my hurt feelings and my failings. I was dwelling not only on the things I couldn’t forgive but then also on the fact that I couldn’t let go. It was a vicious circle of nonsense, but I couldn’t see that I was being ridiculous. I even came across this awesome quote from Mother Teresa:

It’s something I’ve seen a million times and confirmed in my mind, but had never felt so extremely unforgiving before. When I read it this time it challenged me. It made me question what my motivation is. It didn’t help me to forgive but it got me thinking differently about the situation. And then I met with my spiritual director who shed some light on the situation. He helped me to see the reasons behind why I was hurt and encouraged me to work on forgiveness. It still wasn’t enough though, at least not until I went to him for Confession.

When I was in the sacrament of Confession with my spiritual director he said something that really made all the difference in how I was looking at the situation. All along I had been trying to make the change myself. I was trying to forgive of my own will and out of my own strength. But while I was in Confession, my spiritual director told me I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed to let Christ’s mercy flow through me and only then would I be able to forgive. And with those words and the words of absolution, the weight that I’d been carrying for weeks was finally lifted. I felt like I could finally breathe again.

I haven’t had an intense experience of grace in a long time while in Confession, but once again my love of the sacrament was renewed. And most importantly, I was reminded of something super important: I can’t do anything without Christ. But in Christ I am capable of anything – even forgiving someone who I never thought I’d be able to forgive and also forgiving myself for failing.

Now that I’ve moved beyond the pain, I’m able to reflect more on the situation and see where Mother Teresa’s quote is so true. She talks about how all the things that people do to hurt us and to “ruin” us don’t really matter – what matters is our relationship with Christ. It’s something we all know, but it’s something we all forget. We get caught up in what others think about us and how they perceive our actions. All too often, I get caught up in having to be perfect. But here’s the thing – we don’t have to be perfect we aren’t being measured by how others see us. Christ doesn’t ask us to be perfect or to have amazing results – He just asks us to try and to trust Him. So that’s what I’m trying to do – grow in the joy of Christ and let His love flow through me into those I encounter.

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