At this moment, while I sit here writing, I cannot think of one thing that I have done that the memory of makes me feel resentment towards myself. Sure, there are things that I have done that were hurtful to others, but for the most part I have realized my actions may have caused hurt, tried to learn from my actions so I won’t repeat them, and asked for and received forgiveness for my actions. From this, I have been able to move forward in my life without carrying a lot of guilt and self-resentment.
In my original post “Choosing Forgiveness”, I discussed how to move forward in your life and cut the ties that bind you to someone who has hurt you through learning to forgive that person. Now it is time to look at ourselves and try to examine what internal baggage we might be carrying around that we need to be able to free ourselves from by choosing to forgive ourselves.
Many of us have done things in our lives that we might not be happy with ourselves about. Have you been the one to cheat on a partner? Have you been the one to break a promise you made to yourself or another person? Do you beat yourself up over the fact that you didn’t say something to someone before it was too late or that you did say something that you could not take back and now you regret it?
For people with a conscience, the guilt of having to bear the burden of such actions can weigh heavily. Just as the anger towards someone else can cripple you, worse can the anger that you might hold towards yourself. We can be our own worst enemy. The feelings of anger and resentment that we can harbor towards ourselves can be much more harmful to us than anything someone else can do to us. Carrying around a lot of negative emotions can be damaging not only to our mental well-being but can make us physically ill as well.
We need to be able to heal ourselves.
Too many people have not learned how to truly repent for and reconcile with their actions and they stay stuck in a vicious circle of self-accusation for wrongs they committed. This is the worst way to live. At least if someone else was beating you up for your mistakes or sins, you could walk away and get some relief. But when you are beating yourself up, you can’t walk away because no matter where you go, you are always with yourself and the beating you can give yourself can become relentless. This is where you need to learn to forgive yourself and let go.
I know all of this is easier said than done. But the first step is to truly identify what it is that is holding you back; what is preying on your conscience. Once you have identified the issue, if you have trouble forgiving yourself, ask God for His forgiveness. He wants to forgive you – you just need to learn to accept it and trust in it so you can free yourself.
There are two important things that must happen for forgiveness to occur: acknowledgement of the mistake or sin and acceptance of the forgiveness. Without these two factors, you will just be going through the motions and will never truly free yourself.
One thing that we all must understand and accept is the fact that people make mistakes – no one other than God is perfect. But God loves us so much He is willing to forgive anything as long as we are repentant. He forgave man for the original sin committed by Adam and Eve. He will forgive you for what you have done.
God’s forgiveness is not just a free pass to commit sin, rather it is a way for us to be able to move forward in our lives after the realization that we made a mistake.
There are many places in the Bible we can look to in order to find God’s forgiveness:
In the Old Testament, David had committed some very serious sins. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband to cover it up. This was starting to eat away at David. Eventually, in Psalm 51, David asks for and receives God forgiveness for his sins.
In Psalm 86:5 David says: For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.
1 John 1:9 tells us: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If you are having trouble forgiving yourself, let God forgive you. You need to have faith in God and His forgiveness.
Forgiving others comes from you; forgiving yourself comes from God.