Day 4: On Loving Thyself

NOW that you are resolved to finish this retreat and not give up… God has one of the most important healings in store for you… the healing of your self-image. Many of us have no problem loving others… but when it comes to ourselves?

Let’s begin… In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, amen.

Come Holy Spirit, you who are Love itself and sustain me this day. Give me the strength to be merciful — to me. Help me to forgive myself, to be gentle to myself, to love myself. Come, Spirit of truth, and liberate me from the lies about myself. Come, Spirit of power, and destroy the walls I’ve built. Come, Spirit of peace, and raise from the ruins the new creation that I am through Baptism, but that is buried beneath the ashes of sin and shame. I surrender to you all I am and all I’m not. Come Holy Spirit, my breath, my life, my Helper, my Advocate. Amen. 

Let’s sing and pray this song together…

All I Am, All I’m Not

In sacrifice, You take no delight
My offering, a heart contrite
A broken spirit, You will not spurn
From a broken heart, You will not turn

So, all I am, and all I’m not
All I’ve done and all I’ve failed to do
I abandon, surrender all to You

A pure heart, create in me O God
Renew my spirit, within me make me strong
Restore my joy, and I will praise your Name
Spirit fill me now, and heal my shame

All I am, and all I’m not
All I’ve done and all I’ve failed to do
I abandon, surrender all to You

O, I am not worthy to receive You
O, but only say the word, and I shall be healed! 

All I am, and all I’m not
All I’ve done and all I’ve failed to do
I abandon, surrender all to You
All I am, all I’m not
All I’ve done and all I’ve failed to do
And I abandon, surrender all to You

—Mark Mallett from Let the Lord Know, 2005©

The Collapse of Self-Image

You are made in God’s image. The powers of your will, intellect, and memory are what set you apart from the animal kingdom. They are also the very powers that get us into trouble. The human will is the source of so many of our miseries. What would happen to the Earth were it to depart from its precise orbit around the Sun? What kind of chaos would it unleash? Likewise, when our human will departs from the orbit around the Son, we think little of it at the time. But sooner or later it throws our lives into disorder and we lose an inner harmony, peace, and joy that is our inheritance as sons and daughters of the Most High. Oh, the miseries we bring upon ourselves!

From there, our intellect and reasoning spend time either justifying our sin — or completely condemning and guilting ourselves. And our memory, if not brought before the Divine Physician, makes us the subject of another kingdom — the kingdom of lies and darkness where we are held bound by shame, unforgiveness, and discouragement.

During my nine-day silent retreat, I found during the first couple of days that I was caught in a cycle of rediscovering the love of God for me… but also grieving over the wounds I’d caused myself and most especially others. I screamed into my pillow, “Lord, what have I done? What have I done?” This went on as the faces of my wife, children, friends, and others passed by, those whom I did not love as I should have, those whom I failed to witness to, those whom I hurt by my hurt. As the saying goes, “Hurting people hurt people.” In my journal, I cried out: “O Lord, what have I done? I have betrayed You, denied You, crucified You. O Jesus, what have I done!”

I did not see it at the time, but I was caught in a double-web of both unforgiveness of myself and looking through the “dark magnifying glass.” I call it that because that is what Satan puts in our hands in moments of vulnerability where he makes our mistakes and our problems look disproportionately big, to the point that we believe even God Himself is powerless before our problems.

Suddenly, Jesus broke into my lament with a force that I can still feel to this day:

My child, My child! Enough! What have I done? What have I done for you? Yes, upon the Cross, I saw everything you did, and was pierced by it all. And I cried out: “Father forgive him, he knows not what he does.” For if you had, my child, you would not have done it. 

This is why I died for you, too, that by My wounds you may be healed. My little child, come to Me with these burdens and lay them down. 

Leaving the Past Behind…

Jesus then reminded me of the parable when the prodigal son finally came home.[1]cf. Luke 15:11-32 The father ran to his son, kissed him and embraced himbefore the boy could make his confession. Let this truth sink in, especially for those of you who feel you are not allowed to be peaceful until you get to a confessional. No, this parable upends the idea that your sin has made you less loveable by God. Remember that Jesus asked Zacchaeus, that wretched tax collector, to dine with him before he repented.[2]cf. Luke 19:5 In fact, Jesus says:

My child, all your sins have not wounded My Heart as painfully as your present lack of trust does that after so many efforts of My love and mercy, you should still doubt My goodness.  —Jesus to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary, n. 1486

Neither does the father beat the prodigal son for the money he wasted, the hardship he caused, and the household he betrayed. Instead, he reclothes his son in a new robe, places a new ring on his finger, new sandals on his feet, and declares a feast! Yes, the body, mouth, hands and feet that betrayed are now raised again in divine sonship. How can this be?

Well, the son came home. Period.

But shouldn’t the son spend the next several years and decades berating himself for all the people he hurt and grieving all the missed opportunities?

Recall Saul (before he was renamed Paul) and how he murdered Christians before his conversion. What was he to do of all those whom he killed and the families he wounded? Was he to say, “I am a terrible person and, therefore, I have no right to happiness”, even though Jesus forgave him? Rather, St. Paul embraced that light of truth that shone upon his conscience. In doing so, the scales fell from his eyes and a new day was born. In great humility, Paul began again, but this time, in the reality and knowledge of his great weakness — a place of inner poverty through which he worked out his salvation in “fear and trembling,”[3]Phil 2:12 which is to say, a childlike heart.

But what of those families wounded by his previous life? What of those whom you have hurt? What of your children or siblings who have left home that you wounded through your own folly and mistakes? What of former people you dated whom you used? Or co-workers whom you left a poor witness in your language and conduct, etc.?

St. Peter, who betrayed Jesus Himself, left us a beautiful word, borne no doubt from his own experience:

…love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

This is what the Lord spoke in my heart as He began to assuage my grief:

My child, should you mourn your sins? Contrition is right; reparation is right; making amends is right. Afterwards child, you must place EVERYTHING into the hands of the only One who has a remedy for all evils; the only One who has the medicine to cure all wounds. So you see, my child, you are wasting time to mourn the wounds you’ve caused. Even if you were a perfect Saint, your family — part of the human family — would experience still the evils of this world, indeed, until their last breath. 

By your repentance, you are in fact showing your family how to reconcile and how to receive grace. You are going to model true humility, newfound virtue, and the gentleness and meekness of My Heart. By the contrast of your past against the light of the present, you will bring a new day into your family. Am I not the Miracle Worker? Am I not the Morning Star who heralds a new dawn (Rev 22:16)? Am I not the Resurrection?
[4]John 11:15 So now, hand over to Me your misery. Speak of it no more. Give no more breath to the corpse of the old man. Behold, I make something new. Come with Me…

The first step toward healing with others, ironically, is that sometimes we must first forgive ourselves. The following may actually be one of the most difficult passages in all of Scripture:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt 19:19)

If we do not love ourselves, how we can love others? If we cannot show mercy to ourselves, how can we be merciful to others? If we judge ourselves harshly, how can we not do the same to others? And we do, often subtly.

It is time, once and for all, to take up the mistakes, failures, poor judgments, harmful words, actions, and errors you have made in your life, and lay them down at the throne of Mercy. 

Let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. (Hebrews 4:16)

Jesus invites you now: My little lamb, bring to Me your tears and place them one by one at My throne. (You can use the following prayer and add anything that comes to mind):

Lord, I bring you the tears...
for every harsh word
for every harsh reaction
for every meltdown and tantrum
for every curse and oath
for every self-hating word
for every blasphemous word
for every unhealthy reaching for love
for every dominance
for every grasp at control
for every glance of lust
for every taking from my spouse
for every act of materialism
for every act “in the flesh”
for every poor example
for every selfish moment
for perfectionism
for self-centered ambitions
for vanity
for despising myself
for rejecting my gifts
for every doubt in your Providence
for rejecting your love
for rejecting the love of others
for doubting Your goodness
for giving up
for wanting to die 
for rejecting my life.

O Father, I offer to you all these tears, and repent for all that I have done and failed to do. What can be said? What can be done?

The answer is: forgive yourself

In your journal now, write out your full name in big letters and beneath them the words “I forgive you.” Invite Jesus to speak to your heart. If you have any remaining questions and concerns, then write them in your journal and listen for His answer.

Let All

Let all ego fall
Let all fear go
Let all clinging loosen
Let all control cease
Let all despair end
Let all regret be silent
Let all sadness be still

Jesus has come
Jesus has forgiven
Jesus has spoken:
“It is finished.”

(Mark Mallett, 2023)

Closing Prayer

Play the song below, close your eyes, and let Jesus minister to you in the freedom of having forgiven yourself, knowing that you are loved.


Waves of Love, wash over me
Waves of Love, console me
Waves of Love, come soothe my soul
Waves of Love, make me whole

Waves of Love, transforming me
Waves of Love, callin’ me deep
And waves of Love, You heal my soul
O, waves of Love, You make me whole,
You make me whole

Waves of Love, You heal my soul
Calling me, callin’, Your callin’ me deeper
Wash over me, make me whole
Heal me Lord…

—Mark Mallett from Divine Mercy Chaplet, 2007©



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1 cf. Luke 15:11-32
2 cf. Luke 19:5
3 Phil 2:12
4 John 11:15