God loves and accepts us just as we are and we too are called to practice acceptance. Practicing acceptance cannot begin outside of ourselves, though; we must begin by accepting ourselves. Ask yourself: Do you always accept yourself exactly as you are, as God does? Do you see yourself as God sees you? Do you love yourself as God loves you? Do you offer yourself the grace that God offers you?

Too often, we are our own worst critics. Maybe we look in the mirror and dislike what we see, judging our features to be too big or too small or just not quite right. Or maybe we feel weak, inadequate, or incompetent when doing certain tasks; we just can’t seem to do it as well as our neighbor. This feeling of not being good enough is nothing new; it’s something we all struggle with at times.

The Apostle Paul writes of his own struggles in 2 Corinthians. He speaks of having a “thorn in his side.” We don’t know if this was a physical affliction or if Paul was speaking metaphorically of an emotional or mental struggle, but the point is that he had something that made him feel weak and imperfect. In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, he writes, “Three times I appealed to the Lord about [my affliction], that it would leave me, but God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Paul learned to embrace the “thorn” as part of himself, as something that made him who he was. He learned to be vulnerable and even to “boast” of it, recognizing God’s work in him.

Are there parts of yourself that you have a hard time accepting? What would it take for you to accept yourself wholly as you are, as a beloved child of God? May this be your prayer for today: O God in whose image I am made, please help me love myself as I am, to see myself as you see me. Please help me to accept my mind and body with all their beauty and uniqueness just the way you made them. Amen.