I’m frustrated trying to figure out how to implement the words: “You need to forgive yourself” into my life. Although I’ve challenged others with their need to forgive themselves, I find that I’m clueless when it comes to forgiving myself.
My memories serve up many reasons as to why I need to forgive myself: choices made (or not made), things done (or that should have done and weren’t), and on, and on, and on.
I also experience the false guilt that is especially common for abuse and trauma victims. No matter how many times the words “that wasn’t your fault” are spoken, those memories still stir shame. Does forgiving myself relieve me of false guilt? And again, exactly how do I forgive me?
Whether or not I actually ever forgive myself is not the most important point. What is vital is accepting that because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I am fully forgiven by God. (Steve Arterburn, New Life Live Radio, paraphrased)
What matters the most; becoming proficient at forgiving myself, or accepting that Jesus has completely forgiven me? The answer is obvious. Forgiving myself is worthless if I don’t accept and live in the reality of Jesus’ forgiveness.
I’m changing forgiving myself from being yet another responsibility of “doing” something, to being an opportunity to “receive”. And how do I receive forgiveness towards myself? Through frequent reminders that I’m already fully forgiven because of Jesus’ payment for my sin.
Deliberately reminding myself of His work on the cross is also helping me to heal from abuse’s aftermath of shame, hurt, anger, betrayal, fear, and despair.
“Father, thank You that Jesus died for what I’ve done, so that I am fully forgiven by You in this very moment. Thank You Jesus that You rose again so that I can live in freedom and heal from all I’ve done, and from all that has been done to me.”
This is not merely the “power of positive thinking”, nor is this a magic formula ensuring instant relief from feelings of guilt. Rather, this is an act of faith retraining my mind; allowing me to live from the core identity of forgiven, even as I continue to work through specific memories that have fed guilt and shame. Applying Christ’s forgiveness to my guilt and shame is producing the fruit of self-forgiveness that I’ve never been able to achieve through my own efforts. Receiving His forgiveness is how I forgive myself.
I’m living more freely as a forgiven man as my attacks of guilt and shame are transformed into altars of worship and praise for God’s forgiveness.