I remember the feel of the worn hymnal fabric in my hand as I held the songbook and belted out the words, “Just as I am, without one plea.” As a child I understood the heart of the song: God accepts me and loves me just as I am. What a sweet and reassuring love!
The harder lesson, though, has been to love and accept others just as they are.
I find that the more I understand God’s forgiveness and love for myself, the easier it is for me to look at those around me through His lens. Rather than seeing a hardened, bitter woman, I can see her as God sees her: a wounded daughter who feels rejected and alone. Instead of seeing a coarse, rude man, I instead see someone who has never experienced God’s love and forgiveness.
When I look at the people around me through God’s lens of love, I see their brokenness and their need rather than their failures and shortcomings. And rather than be offended at their sins, I sense God’s deep abiding love and longing for them.
We are all loved, we are all accepted, and we are all in need of God.