You preachers are always saying we need to change our behavior and become better people, but I don’t agree. I think we need to learn to accept ourselves just as we are and quit feeling guilty over our shortcomings. We’ll never be perfect anyway, so why worry about it? — L.S.
While I’m not a preacher, I agree changing behaviour can be a good thing. Accepting ourselves can also be a good thing. A lot of this really depends on what kind of behaviour we’re discussing, though.
I did a quick hunt of my own blog and discovered I didn’t do a write up for the banned book Lolita when we read it. That’s about a guy who falls pretty hard for a beautiful kid and runs away with her. She later runs away with someone else and doesn’t have a long life but the character of Humbert Humbert became disturbingly easy to feel sorry for. While psychologists and the like can argue about whether or not pedophilia is a mental disorder or an actual branch of human sexuality in terms of what turns people on (these days they say it’s not an orientation), it’s still a behaviour best dealt with medically instead of indulged.
If thieving or any other illegal activity is one’s mode de vie, it’s only a matter of time before the law catches up.
If, for example, procrastination/constantly being late is the societal crime, well, it’s annoying but fixable with effort. You just have to decide if it’s worth the effort. Your friends and loved ones would answer with an emphatic YES, but ultimately, it’s still up to you.
DEAR L.S.: You’re right on one point; we’ll never be perfect in this life. But does that mean we ought to sit back and do nothing about our bad habits or other things we do wrong? No, of course not.
One reason we need to be concerned about what you call our “shortcomings” is because they have an effect on others. If I’m selfish and unconcerned about the needs of others, they will be hurt. If I habitually lie and cheat, others will be hurt. If I ignore my social responsibilities or act immorally, others will be hurt. As the Bible says, “None of us lives for ourselves alone” (Romans 14:7).
It can be easy to forget that, but our actions affect all of those we come across, just as the actions of others affect us. No doubt you’re familiar with the experience of getting snapped at by a stranger or a friend for what seems like no good reason. Maybe you didn’t do anything to deserve it. Chances are, you’re just the unlucky recipient of a bad mood. But something happened to that person to make their mood go dark and they’ve chosen to spread it around. You just happened to be in the vicinity. Be honest and admit you’ve done the same to people in the past, too. I tried to look for a link demonstrating how apes take out their frustration on smaller apes but due to timing, I’m just getting hits for the film I currently have no interest in.
But we’ll also end up hurting ourselves. Bad habits always have bad consequences — always. It might not be obvious at first; in fact, we may deceive ourselves into thinking we’re on the right road. But we aren’t. The Bible is clear: “You may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
Smoking often leads to lung cancer. There’s second hand damage, and there’s even such a thing as third hand damage. It’s disturbing to read about. Does knowledge about the lingering effects stop people from smoking, though? I suppose the bible was mum on smoking specifically, but nearly any bible verse can be bent to the non-smoker cause.
We should never be content to “accept ourselves just as we are” (as you put it). But God does accept us just as we are! He knows all about us, including our sins and our failures, and yet he still loves us and wants to come into our lives to forgive us and change us. And this can happen to you, as you turn to Jesus Christ and invite him into your life. I urge you to make your decision for Christ today.
I think his advice always ends with this paragraph. Jesus fixes everything. He fixes things better than Ultimate Fix or whatever!