Forgiveness comes with a great sacrifice, I mean it is one of the greatest demonstrations of love ever known. The first thought that naturally comes to mind when someone hurts us is the need to revenge. We want the person to experience the same hurt and pain they have caused us. We have been created for relationships, but forgiveness plays a major role in building and sustaining these relationships. I do not struggle to forgive people. Forgiving myself, however, had been quite a task. When hurt, a sincere apology and the intention to change for the better help me in the journey to healing and restoration of a friendship or relationship. I understand that this does not apply to all situations since some relationships cannot be restored to their former reality. The fact remains that forgiveness requires a special kind of unconditional love, towards others, and most importantly, yourself.
My previous post generated awesome feedback; (I enjoy reading your heart-warming messages in my inbox, thanks for the love). On the other hand, others reached out sharing how they are hung up on the past since they are struggling to forgive themselves and let things go. One, in particular, shared how it has been so hard to move on since they keep wondering why they made some poor choices in the past. The candid conversations I have had this week opened up a time of self-reflection as I remembered how hard it was for me to forgive myself for the mistakes I made. I am talking about that nagging voice of self-condemnation that never seems to go away. These thoughts tend to make you feel like you can never make the right choices because you’ve messed everything up. I know how it feels when you are trying to get your life back on track, but those persistent thoughts make you feel like God will never be pleased with you because of all that is in your past. I need you to know that you don’t have to stay there all your life. God wants you happy and thriving in what he has called you for. You only have two hands; you cannot hold on to your history and still expect to reach out to your future. That said, how can you forgive yourself?
1. Forget the former things
Did you know that your thoughts play an active role in shaping your current reality? Our lives and decisions are a result of the thoughts we allow in our minds and hearts. Do you find yourself struggling to forgive yourself and move on? It probably means that you spend a great amount of time thinking about past events, thus giving them the power to shape your mentality and reality. I think a lot. I tend to overthink because I like to analyze every possible dimension of my thoughts. I believe this is a good thing, however, overthinking the past had kept me there for so long since I kept reopening wounds that Jesus wanted to seal up completely. In my experience, thinking and overthinking the past keeps you in an ending cycle of allowing healing, then undoing all the progress you’ve made by pouring more salt on the healing wounds. I am happy that God understands this about us, that’s why he tells us in Isaiah 43:18-20 NIV:
18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
How can we see the new thing that God is doing if we keep dwelling in the past? How can God make a way in the wilderness when we are not forgetting the former things? Coveting Egypt and cursing Moses leaves us blind to the pillar of fire and cloud that God has set up for our guidance. The ability to move on and allow God to be God depends on our ability to forget the former things.
2. Extend grace to yourself
Extending grace to yourself is the next step towards forgiving yourself and finding the strength to move on. None of us were born perfect. If that was the case, the world would be free of all the hatred and crime we see today. Making mistakes and regretting our decisions has been part of our lives. What matters is how we dust off the ashes when we realize we have gone wrong. Dear friend, you have the choice to decide whether to live in regret or push on to make better choices. I need you to be kind to yourself because being too hard on yourself creates a very unhealthy environment for you to move on from the past. Once you extend grace to yourself, you create the positive atmosphere necessary to forgive yourself and be a better version of yourself.
3. God already forgave you
God was very intentional when he sent his son Jesus to die for us on the cross. He meant it when he said that he came to die for our past, present, and future sins. Isn’t that awesome? I love how this reveals how contradictory it is for us to wallow in the past and struggle to forgive ourselves. While we are struggling to forgive ourselves, he already forgave us and is patiently waiting for us to catch up to this truth. He looks at us and sees the sacrifice he made by giving Jesus to pay the ultimate price for our sins. All the guilt, shame, regret, condemnation, pain, and struggle were taken away at that cross, allowing us to live in the reality of being completely forgiven and living in this understanding. God already did his part in mending the broken relationship we had with him, it is up to us to do our part by allowing Jesus to help us understand this immense love and sacrifice. I encourage you to invite Jesus in your healing journey so that you can bring yourself to forgive yourself. Lay everything at his feet by letting him know your struggle to forgive yourself. He already knows this, but inviting him gives him the liberty to work on, with, and in you.
In conclusion, you are so precious and loved in God’s sight. He wants you happy and living your best life in every possible way. God looks at you and sees Jesus, which should assure you that you are completely forgiven and that it is time for you to forgive yourself. I assure you that you will look back at these painful days and wonder why you dwelt so much on them. You will be so healed and revived in your spirit as you wonder why it took you so long to realize all this. You are the only one who has the power to forgive yourself. No one can do that for you. You are so awesome and highly blessed.
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