Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, wracked with guilt after experiencing a nightmare marred by one of your past decisions? Did you cringe as you opened your eyes, filled with regret over your actions? Most of us have at some point or another.
I once read the best way to build character is to make mistakes and learn from them. But over the past while, I have been talking to people about the idea of what a full picture of grace looks like. I am often caught off guard by the reality that we forgive others, but still struggle at forgiving ourselves. We understand fully what grace looks like coming from a relationship with Jesus, but fail to extend it to ourselves. For this, I suggest we take a look at the Lord’s Prayer:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one…”
It says pretty clearly, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” But why is it hard to forgive ourselves? Perhaps it is because we actually see and experience the impact of these bad choices. Or perhaps it is how those who bear witness to those mistakes look at us. Either way, and no matter what your previous experience, we cannot overlook the understanding grace.
God forgives us for our wrong doings and they are fully erased.
You can rest in knowing that God has forgiven you – therefore, why can’t you forgive yourself? It is time to take the burdens off and place them solely on Christ. He will carry them for you and does not hold judgment or contempt for your wrong doings. He died on the cross for that very reason – we should remember the power that comes from this very sacrifice.
Paul Boese once said, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” I understand that the likelihood is this will be a long battle – it will often take time to forgive yourself. Therefore, there is a curriculum that I have been referring people to that can help with the journey. It is called “Freeway” and it is written by Mike Foster, a friend of mine. It will help you engage in the discussion of what it means to be free. My hope and prayer for you is that you don’t simply give up on forgiving yourself, tackle it head on with our one true savior – Jesus Christ.