and not as I should be

        "The only way to survive is to know that God loves me as I am and not as I should be; that He loves me beyond worthiness and unworthiness, beyond fidelity and infidelity; that He loves me in the morning sun and in the evening rain, without caution, regret, boundary, limit or breaking point; that no matter what I do, He can’t stop loving me.  When I am really in conscious communion with the reality of the wild, passionate, relentless, stubborn, pursuing, tender love of Christ for me, then it’s not that I have to, or I’ve got to or I must or I should or I ought.  Suddenly, I want to change because I know how deeply I’m loved.

        I have a good little friend, a 55-year-old nun named Mary Michael O’Shaughnessy, who has a doctorate in theology.  She has a banner on her wall that says, 'Today I will not should on myself.'  One of the wonderful results of my consciousness of God’s staggering love for me as I am is a freedom not to be who I should be or who others want me to be.  I can be who I really am.  And who I am is a bundle of paradoxes and contradictions: I believe and doubt; I trust and I get discouraged; I love and I hate; I feel bad about feeling good; I feel guilty if I don’t feel guilty.  Aristotle said we are rational animals.  I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.  It is the real me that God loves.  I don’t have to be anyone else.  For 20 years I tried to be Brother Teresa.  I tried to be Francis of Assisi.  I had to be a carbon copy of a great saint rather than the original God intended me to be.   . . .

         The biggest mistake I can make is to say to God, 'Lord, if I change, you will love me, won’t you?'  The Lord’s reply is always, 'Wait a minute.  You’ve got it all wrong.  You don’t have to change so I’ll love you; I love you so you’ll change.'  I simply expose myself to the love that is everything and have an immense, unshakable, reckless, raging confidence that God loves me so much He’ll change me and fashion me into the child that He always wanted me to be."

Brennan Manning