Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Forgiving Yourself

I remember the first time I forgave myself.  It was about four years ago.

I had sinned greatly.  Repented deeply.  Did everything God called me to here.  But I couldn’t escape the torment.  The weight of the sin was crushing me.  I didn’t know if I would survive.  I didn’t understand why.

I went to a dear Christian girlfriend to confess.  She listened carefully, prayerfully, and said, “You haven’t forgiven yourself.”

What?  Honestly, I had never given a thought to forgiving myself.  It never even crossed my mind.  I had never forgiven myself before.  Ever.  Didn’t even know I should think about it, let alone do it.  I thought, who cares about my unforgiveness of myself?  We’re supposed to forgive others, to show compassion and love toward others, to release and pardon others . . . does it really matter if I forgive myself?

My friend insisted on it, and prayed with me.  It was one of the most difficult prayers I have ever prayed.  It came out haltingly, chokingly, in great fearful gasps.  The release was unlike any I had ever experienced before.  Like a strangulating hold was thrown off me.

Sometimes we may look at ourselves with condemning judgment and even hold ourselves to a higher standard than God does.  If you are burdened with guilt, self-hatred, or worthlessness, you may not have forgiven yourself.   “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Mt 6:14). God commands forgiveness – and I believe that includes forgiving yourself. 


When we do not forgive ourselves, we are saying that Jesus’ death is not sufficient to cover all our sins.  We are declaring that our sins are so great that we need Jesus plus something else to be forgiven.  We are trampling on the precious blood of Christ, shed for all our sins.  When we forgive, God releases us.  And if God releases us, who are we to hold ourselves in bondage? 

5 comments:

  1. I love the line you wrote, "declaring that our sins are so great that we need Jesus plus something else to be forgiven."

    One of my challenges in fully forgiving myself is not only do I feel like I let down God, I fear the consequences of my sins. I've already walked through painful circumstances that I realize are due to my sins (not to mention those that I suffered unjustly). I suppose it's hard for me to forgive myself, when I am reminded of those sins through the suffering which stems from the poor choices I made.

    However, I am growing and accepting that by me walking with that mentality, I am essentially telling God I do not accept His will for me (here I go with another sin). His lessons are those that always bring me closer to Him. They are teachings I could have never received, had it not been for unjust suffering, but also the suffering one could argue I imposed upon myself. All of my suffering has purpose. As your friend Joan said, "I would have never picked this path, but I would never trade it in either."

    I would not be as close to the Lord as I am, be seeking Him as fervently as I am, acknowledging He is the absolute medicine for my healing, or embracing He is the one who restores and transforms me, had it not been for all of this suffering. This is true even with the suffering related to the sins I committed or things I could have done differently. They have led me straight into His arms.

    When it comes to forgiving myself, my other challenge is fully trusting God is going to work out everything for my good and to advance His kingdom. I noticed I'm still a little scared about what that will entail. I simply have to remind myself that He is not like those of the world who remind you of all you've done wrong. He is not holding it over my head. I have been cleansed! I pray that I will not exalt my expectations higher than God's.

    "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!…My chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise…I, even I, am He Who blots out and cancels your transgressions, for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins." Isaiah 43:18, 21, 25 AMP

    Notice where God says he erases our sins, "for My own sake" - HIS sake! I double checked multiple translations and they say the same thing. Until writing this comment, I've never noticed that before. I see that as a very powerful reminder of God saying He is the creator (vs 21 says "the people I formed for myself"). He is forgiving us so that we may continue praising Him!

    My list is longer than this, but if you're like me and struggle or have struggled with sins like pride, control, fear, guilt, shame, idolatry, selfishness (a new revelation), I am reminded, this isn't about me. It's about HIM!

    I already offended God and/or the person I hurt with my sins. Why should I keep sinning with condemnation? Do I really need another sin to add to my list? Clearly, this is an enemy attack designed to hold me back.

    God already said, "your sins are forgiven. I did that for me."

    Who am I to take away what God desires for Himself? Therefore, I must forgive myself!

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    Replies
    1. Dear Cristina,
      You have such a beautiful heart! So seeking Him, pursuing purity with every breath, wanting only to become more and more Christlike. I love that about you!

      I like your attention on that phrase: He forgives our sins for HIS sake. The grace of that totally overwhelms me. He forgives our sins so we may proclaim His praise . . . and also because He desires connection with us, so He puts us in right relationship with Him as only He can do...

      Yes, the temptation to hold ourselves in unforgiveness is an enemy attack. When we refuse to forgive ourselves, we have fallen right into the enemy's trap. Unforgiveness gives Satan a foothold, and he can mount further attacks from there.

      Cristina, you cannot "let God down." You cannot disappoint Him, for He knows everything, He knows the future, every thought we will ever think, every word we will ever speak, every sin of our actions, mind, heart we will ever commit -- so it is impossible to catch Him by surprise, let Him down, or disappoint Him. Sometimes I think He doesn't interrupt our sins because He wants us to know, even today, many years after we have been saved, how desperately we need Him as Savior.

      Jesus died for our sins. All of them. You have repented, and that is enough. Forget what lies behind, reach forward for what lies ahead, and press on. Look up; He is beaming down at you, for He is so pleased with you.

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    2. Cristina WilliamsMarch 25, 2014 at 7:43 AM

      Thank you for such BEAUTIFUL words of ENCOURAGEMENT and TRUTH!!!

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  2. These are such powerful words ladies. I find that vastly fascinating forgiving us for His sake. I too struggle with that Christina, especially as a parent what could I have done differently? If only I had taken this class sooner? What have I scared my son with my old ways? I am a work in progress and I'm prayerfully believing what is being taught in that room that Joe's trials are his and for him to learn by even if I may have caused them God will use it for His good and glory. I am confident I tried as hard as I could and did the best I could with what I had even though I fell short of my own expectations. Yikes, does that even make any sense? My prayer is that I do not regret the past nor wish to close the door on it but to hopefully, not make the same mistakes and sins today. I can't wait to see what you write Celeste about the spiritual warfare, awesome, intriguing class today!

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  3. Dear Lori,
    Fear not; you are right where you are supposed to be!! You were not ready for this class sooner . . . it is God's perfect timing.

    Lori, I struggle with the same thoughts. If only I knew years ago what the Spirit is teaching me now, my marriage would have been different, I would have raised my kids differently . . . But as I pray through this, I realize I am holding myself to a higher level of expectation than God does.

    God loves when we humble reach that place of utter desperateness, finally admitting that we cannot redeem anything, for when we are weak, then He is strong. And when we completely release to God's hands, we will find that with Jesus, nothing is really as dead as it seems (Jn 11:43-44).

    Yes, you absolutely did the best you could -- and from the little glimpses you have given me of your life and battles, you have done an amazingly impressive job! Remember, God is after your heart, and after Joey's as well. He in His sovereignty has ordained each battle, so that when we fight it through to completion with Jesus, the victory will bring us into the greatest intimacy with Him.

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