It can be hard to believe that God loves you unconditionally. All of us have done (or thought about doing) things we are ashamed of. To other people, we present a facade of being a “good” or “nice” person. We want people to like us, and we care about what they think. We know there are limits, even with the people who are closest to us–what they will accept about us, whether they will forgive us when we know we’re wrong and we’re sorry.
We keep secrets. We delete the parts of our histories that we wish weren’t there. Sometimes I cringe when I look back at my younger self. I did some pretty heartless things without realizing how bad they were at the time. From the perspective I have now, I can see the ways I hurt and failed people who loved me.
Those memories feel very raw to me. The regret is painful. There are things I wish I could do over. I am a “nice” person. I am helpful whenever I can be. I like to compliment (sincerely) people and point out their talents and strengths. But I still have wrong thoughts regularly. I am still selfish. I still envy the success of other people.
So it’s absolutely required that Jesus sacrificed Himself for my sins, because I’ve sinned in the past, I still sin now, and I will sin in the future. If going to Heaven after I die depended on me doing a certain amount of right while simultaneously avoiding most wrongs, I wouldn’t make it.
That is why Jesus is key. We cannot make ourselves righteous enough to be worthy of an eternal life with God. We are made worthy by believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that He sacrificed Himself in our place so that all of our sins can be forgiven.
In Psalms 130, verses 3 and 4, it is written: If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, therefore, You are feared. [NIV Bible]
If there are things you want to change about yourself, surrender control and ask God to help you. If you feel guilty about something, confess it to God. He already knows about it, so it’s no surprise. But He wants you to receive His forgiveness because He knows it helps you to forgive yourself and start again.