“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
— John Wooden (1910–2010)
Perhaps our role as self-critics is to become the consummate coach; to correct ourselves, or to allow correction, without causing resentment.
We all do, more or less, condemn ourselves for all manner of variety of mistakes, lapses, slips, errors, and violations. So, if self-condemnation is so obviously universal—that it’s such a human trait—where we berate ourselves in isolation—where self-condemnation is the universal response—why don’t we see the irony?
If everyone is capable of making similar mistakes, there’s no reason to cruel ourselves for making the sorts of mistakes we all make.
The Only Purpose in ‘Condemnation’
Berating the self has no good and worthy purpose beyond causing us to simply repent—then the grace of God, presuming we are saved, takes over. God forgives in an instant, and we can know this by our felt release from the grip of condemnation.
Self-condemnation, therefore, is felt either whenever we don’t repent, yet we feel guilty (even unconsciously), or when we do repent, yet we don’t take God at his Word; we don’t believe the blessings of God’s grace that see us forgiven and able to move on.
Is there a harsher reality, personally, then spurning the self?
Could it get any worse than being in receipt of a purposeless self-inflicted wrath?
Once we have dealt with the mistake, lapse, slips, error, or violation—once we have entered courage through repentance—to make the appropriate restitution—we are willed by God to move on. If we believe in the power of the gospel portent of grace we won’t allow the barbs of self-condemnation to stick into the flesh of our consciences, shredding our spiritual wellbeing. We will take God at his Word.
Sin Is Universal in the Realm of Humanity
When we understand the comprehensive nature of sin in our mortal beings, we see no sense or justification in feeling condemned. We understand that our humanity speaks for itself.
We understand God wants something better for us; the ability to live freely within the bounds of truth.
We understand that we are besmirched and vile by nature—that is all of us—and, in that, there is an enormous sense of relief that perfection can be put away. And when we have laughed in the face of perfection, knowing full well mistakes will be ours, we don’t get down on ourselves as we used to.
There’s no sense in self-condemnation. Humankind is perfectly imperfect. We all make mistakes. There’s no purpose, therefore, in self-condemnation beyond causing us to repent. Once God forgives there’s no role for condemnation; only freedom from it.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.