I recall going to church a few times as a child and, frankly, it scared me. I remember that most of the people there looked somber and uncomfortable, and the pastor’s sermon would typically be about sin, hell, and living right. As a child, I knew that I made a lot of mistakes and I felt unworthy to be there.
I was literally afraid to attend church, because I always felt horrible about myself after going. Instead of wanting to follow God, I found myself running from him. I’m sure that wasn’t the intention, but it was somehow the message that they were conveying.
I believe that God wants us to feel comfortable in church and the ultimatums and stipulations that are preached in many churches aren’t derived from his teachings. My family found a church in Florida that accepted us with our flaws, and we felt comfortable from the first time we attended. The theme is always the same… “Trust your God, love your neighbor, follow Jesus.”
I need to worship with others to fuel myself with the energy needed to go out into this world and live better. Thinking back, I wondered if these sad people felt unable to receive God’s love and they were holding the guilt inside for the mistakes that they were making.
After I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m not worthy of his love, but he gives it to me anyway. I realized that I will make mistakes for the rest of this life I have on Earth. I understand that my God forgives me, and he allows me to keep living without shame.
Smile when you attend church and remember that we’re all children of the King of Kings, but we do make mistakes. We can try to live in his image, but we will never be able to accomplish this. Do the best you can and forgive yourself, because he’s forgiven you already.
Do you forgive yourself for the mistakes that you make?
Rick Stanfield is a syndicated columnist, motivational speaker and published author of “I Can and I Will” and “Sweet Henrietta’s.” Visit his website at www.rickstanfield.com.