How do I forgive myself?
Of all the emotional things that can destroy a life, unforgivingness is number one. When we live in unforgivingness, we continue to relive pain that leaves us in a constant state of resentment and bitterness. As this negativity grows, it will affect all areas of our lives, including future relationships, emotions, and even physical health. These attacks on our lives will inevitably rob us of joy and contentment and leave us despair and with a lack of peace.
God knows the danger of unforgivingness and warns us to beware of living this way because it keeps us from receiving His grace.
Hebrews 12:15 (NLT) says, “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
Normally, when we think of getting rid of unforgivingness, we think of our relationships with God and other persons, but what happens when the person you have trouble forgiving is yourself?
Many of us walk around with guilt, regret, shame, or disappointment as a result of the decisions we have made. Some mistakes seem unforgiveable, and we live in conscious and subconscious resolution to remain this way without hope.
However, unforgivingness to yourself is just as dangerous as unforgivingness to others. Self-forgiveness is critical to living a victorious Christian life.
Unworthy of forgiveness
However, the world we live in has conditioned us to accept much less from ourselves than God really intended for us. We end up believing the lie that we are unworthy of forgiveness and that this state of despair is all that we will ever have. The apostle Peter shows us that this kind of thinking is just not true. In 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV), he says, “… you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
God has paved the way for us, as Christian believers, to walk in victory! However, it requires the transformation of our minds to live this way, and nowhere is this transformation more important than in the area of forgiveness. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2a, NIV).
Our job is to fight against the teaching of our culture that says, we should hide our mistakes. This is because what we hide has power over us; it can sit in the back of our minds and fester, eating away at our self-assurance and our sense of God’s love for us, making us feel unworthy. It can tell us that we don’t deserve God’s forgiveness and that we therefore can’t forgive ourselves. That is condemnation! It was never an issue of whether we are forgiven by God. His Word says that, “ I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34b, NIV). We are forgiven by God if we ask for it. The harder question becomes, ‘Will I forgive myself?’
If you know that you have been living in unforgivingness towards yourself, you don’t have to remain that way. Next week, we will cover practical steps to overcoming unforgivingness, but it can be as simple as saying the prayer below from Sarah Coleman.
Father, today I ask for forgiveness of all the negative and harmful words I have spoken about myself. I do not want to abuse myself in such a way again. Transform my thoughts, and let me understand how marvellously you made me. Change my habits so I use my tongue to speak hope and favour upon my life, in Jesus’ name. Amen.