God does not want us to beat ourselves up because we don't live up to our own "perfect" self-images of who we "should be" or "could be" if we'd just try harder. We're fragile, limited creatures who make mistakes and are less than perfectly loving every day of our lives. Sometimes we have these unreal expectations of ourselves because of highly critical parents or a false image of a punishing, hyper-critical God. But God loves us. All the time. In every situation.
If we're super-critical of ourselves, then we become super-critical of others. False pride is at work. If we continuously fall below our expectations and everyone else does too, it's because we're too proud to accept that all of us are fragile, limited beings. God in reality is gentle with us, giving us time to grow, time to mature, time to learn. If we look at ourselves and others with God's eyes, we become gentler, calmer, more loving and accepting of ourselves and others. And - much easier to live with!
But all of us have times when we struggle to forgive ourselves for cruel or selfish or immature things that we've done or said in our past, or relationships that have failed in part because of us being cruel, selfish, or immature. Or else we deeply regret NOT having said or done something good. We know that God forgives us as soon as we've accepted that we've been at fault and confess to Him. At first our grief and our brokenness is a necessary suffering, born of our honest recognition and repentance.
But if we become frozen in grief, unable to forgive ourselves, even if we know God has forgiven us, we need deeper healing, a deeper understanding of Who God is and Who God is for us.
The scope of God's positive, loving actions on our behalf goes much farther and deeper and wider than we can begin to imagine. Since God has known everything in creation from the beginning, and God is All-Good, and God works to accomplish All Good, nothing will fail in its design.
Jesus took all our sin, shame, and suffering on Himself for our sake, and because Jesus freely did this with the Power of Pure Love, all will be well, everything will be well. God can even use our sins to bring about His perfect plan. God wants us to be at perfect peace about everything, leaving all to Him.
But pride connects itself ever so subtly to our guilt and uses our shame to prevent us from asking and allowing God to take care of us, prevents us from surrendering all to God.
Our pride demands to know now what God can do with various messes we've made in our lives. Yet God hushes us, tells us not to worry. Patiently and lovingly God sweeps and cleans up ahead of us to show us a clear path and patiently and lovingly sweeps and cleans up after us. Can we be humble enough to accept God's forgiveness and help?
The grace of our interconnectedness in Christ is that God can use others in our lives to reassure us that we are indeed forgiven and need to forgive ourselves. In any denomination, a priest or minister, acting as God's messenger, can bring us to a deep, real understanding of God's Love - if only we are humble and courageous enough to begin a conversation.
Catholics have the wonderful Sacrament of Reconciliation in which we can bare our broken hearts to a priest, who "stands in" for Christ and who tells us that we are forgiven in the Name of Christ. Through the powerful grace of this Sacrament we are mended and renewed in God's love, sometimes at a much deeper level than even counseling can accomplish.
"Lord, my heart is not proud; nor are my eyes haughty. I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me. Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its Mother's lap, so is my soul within me." (Psalm 131.)