What you do morally, matters. I’m even tempted to say what you do morally is the most important thing in the world, but it’s not. It’s the second most important thing in the world. Instead, your identity is the number one most important thing because in the end, your identity will not only guide your actions, but your happiness. When you know that you are the beloved of God, you will usually do good and be good because it comes by nature, rather than willpower. When you are living in your true identity as the beloved, being a good person has nothing to do with trying harder. You do good for others because it’s what is most natural to you. Therefore, the only way to be a joyful, moral person is, ironically, to let go of your identity as a moral person. Instead, embrace your identity as the beloved.
If you want to do good, but lack the power to do so, it’s likely because you are trying to do good from a place of shame rather than a place of grace. You’re constantly beating yourself up in the hopes you’ll get your life together. Maybe you were taught to do this by your parents or through sermons you’ve heard in the past: “When you mess up, beat yourself up so you won’t do it again.” But when we do this, we are actually making things worse, not better.
Though shame can, and often does, push a person in the general direction of morality, their moral actions can become rigid, life-thwarting, and joyless, typically leading to religiosity and hypocrisy. Because this person’s identity is about being a moral person more than about being beloved, when they mess up (and they will mess up), they are now tempted to hide their mistake. In the beginning, they will confess their mistakes, but because their morality is so closely linked to their identity, they won’t be able to keep it up, and will eventually lose that identity for one of immorality. Or they will become a person with two identities: the moral one that everyone sees and the private immoral one that they see in the mirror.
God has a better idea: just let go and be loved right where you are.