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January 8, 2024

We move through life setting goals to become better versions of ourselves. But what if you don’t need to be better to be loved?

I stood there, face to face with the decision I had made. A few weeks ago my calendar page was clean and the only thing I had written was in bright pen and block letters. The resolution, written bold and hopeful on January 1, weeks later only looked like a reminder of my failure.

I wanted to turn the calendar page so I wouldn’t have to see it anymore.

Have you been there? It doesn’t matter what the decision was. It could be a resolution for the New Year or a pledge to start that diet on Monday. (My favorite thing about starting a diet on Monday is the weekend before). Maybe you decided you would spend time in the Word every morning and then the baby was up all night and you couldn’t bring yourself to crawl out of bed even a minute before it was absolutely necessary. Maybe that one morning turned into two, turned into weeks. I’ve been there.

I had let myself down. In my mind I did not fail; I was a failure. And somehow, deep inside, I just knew that meant I could not be really loved. A failure couldn’t possibly be on God’s favorites list. A failure doesn’t deserve love. This was the soundtrack playing in my head. The leap from failed to failure is only the tiniest step in my heart. I made that step a thousand times over, pushing myself further and further from a love I thought I didn’t deserve.

My broken resolution became the framework for how I saw myself.

I had tied my actions to God’s love and now I was face to face with that broken resolution, pushing myself further away from God and grieving the loss of even more love.

We move through life setting goals to become better versions of ourselves. But what if you don’t need to be better to be loved?

What if we believed we are loved right now in our imperfect, resolution-breaking state?

“No, no,” we say. We’re just setting goals. Trying to serve God better. Trying to be better. And maybe that is where we falter.

God never asked us to be better. He isn’t tallying our achievements and shaking His head at our failures.

God is not a scorekeeper. He’s there, fully aware of all that we are, and He smiles. He opens His arms welcoming us. He’s ever patient, kind, and loving, cheering us on in grace.

Yet, somehow we tie invisible strings to God’s love.

He’ll love me more if I pray better and read the Bible more.

I will matter more if I’m thinner.

If my house is cleaner I’ll be a better person.

We may not voice these ideas, but they burrow deep and they’re easy to believe. Lies usually are. But God wants us to know the truth. He longs for us to walk in freedom, no strings attached. He could never love you more or less than He does right now.

You, my friend, are not a failure. God doesn’t see you as a resolution breaker. You haven’t let Him down. You are loved fully and completely by a God who never changes.

Rebecca Hastings is a contributing writer.

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