I have messed up a lot in my life. Like, a lot. Spiritually, relationally, vocationally, emotionally, maritally, parentally, financially, physically. Like, a lot a lot.

I think more than the average human. Or at least so it feels. It feels that way for a couple reasons.

One, I have what feels like more detractors than the regular joe. I have many people who don’t like me, who disagree with me, who are disappointed in me, who choose to keep distance from me.

For a people-pleasing Jesus-girl like myself who tries so freaking hard to make everyone like her and who is – if I may say – mostly nice a good deal of the time, this is a heart-breaking reality to live with. I expend a lot of energy thinking about this. I carry a lot of shame around with me. Someone who loves Jesus should not have this many people not like her.

And two, I apologize a lot. So much. You have no idea. In fact, I have probably apologized to you. And I think, truly (and according to my friends and husband and mentor) I apologize more than the next guy, and – this is key – more than I need to and for things I'm not even responsible for.

So, here’s what I’m trying to learn.

One, you can love Jesus and try hard at life and still mess up a lot. Ugh. I hate this. But I think (and hope!) that’s a true statement.

I can tell you with every ounce of truth I can muster, that none of my mistakes over the past thirty years have been intentional. Not one time have I thought to myself, ‘how can I mess this up?’, ‘how can I hurt so-and-so?’, ‘how can I be foolish in this situation?’, ‘how can I squander this relationship or opportunity or dollar?’, ‘how can I be the most lazy and self-centered in this circumstance?’

No. In fact, one thing I know to be true about myself…Jesus will not look at me and say, girl, if only you’d tried harder.

I have not followed Jesus perfectly for the past thirty-two years, not by a long shot. But I HAVE followed him. I am doing the thing, as Beth Moore would say. Daily, I read his word, I pray for guidance and wisdom and strength, I live in community with people who love God and are trying to follow him and I make myself accountable to them and open to their counsel, and I have the Holy Spirit within me, and I’ve been given the mind of Christ and the power of a sound mind.

I may be blonde. I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed. But I am not a fool. And I do not live based solely on my own gut or smarts.

Every mistake I’ve actually made and every mistake someone else considers a mistake that I don’t – and this is an odd sentence to write – was prayed through, wisdom-sought, thoughtfully-considered. And yet, sometimes…okay, a lot of times, I still messed up, while walking with Jesus.  And think about it this way…if we lived perfectly, why would we need Jesus?

And two, I am not the sum of all of my mistakes. I am not a conglomeration of what everyone else thinks of me. NO. I am who God and God alone says I am. I am precious to God. I am pursued by God. I am not a disappointment to God. I am worthy of never being abandoned by God. I am a delight to God. He actually likes me and he totally loves me. That’s all that matters. All that matters in the whole wide world is that God loves me. No matter what I’ve done, and no matter how I’ve messed up, and no matter what anyone else thinks of me. God loves me. And that’s that.

So it's time to move forward. It's time to stop saying I'm sorry for my shadow. It's time to live my life.

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