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Quiet time

Step one: love and forgive yourself

manuelita otero

During a difficult phase of my life I was searching for peace in the middle of my frustration, so I started spending more time with God.  The closer I got, the more I heard an invitation which can be summarized in two words: love and forgiveness.  I thought these were obvious words, easy to understand and apply. So I diligently tried to fulfill the command by looking at the positive side of people, being aware of what was happening in my family and trying to be nicer. I even prayed for people I didn’t like.  Basically I tried to do many “acts” of service.  I wanted to tell God: “Here I am, I am trying to get to know you better. I need you now”.

These things must have had a positive outcome and they did benefit the people around me, but it took me a while to understand where God was trying to lead me. He was asking me to love myself and to forgive myself so I could then love others and forgive others.  This is what we read in Matthew 22:  “…Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39)   For some reason in the forgiving lesson I missed “yourself” and to be honest, I thought I didn’t need it since I loved myself enough. I dedicated time to study, to work on a career I loved, to have fun at parties and I bought myself nice things once in a while. But God always goes deeper and the more time I spent with him the more He showed me that for some time I have had low self-esteem as I was going through a phase in which I was continuously judging myself.  I was begging for love, full of guilt and fear, waiting for punishment from God because I felt I wasn’t enough. 

Realizing this has been a freeing experience.  Now I know God’s overflowing love for me and I receive and delight in his grace and mercy. God used my mistakes as I hit bottom to show me what forgiveness is all about: repentance instead of guilt, freedom instead of condemnation, peace instead of sadness, present instead of past.  I can enjoy all these because God did this for me and also for you: “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

I still have a long way to go, but each day forgiving and loving myself becomes easier because of God’s love for me.  He is more interested in love than legalism, tradition, or religion.

 By Ana