For weeks I had walked around with shame and guilt over a sin that I had repented of months earlier. I had hurt others and I prayerfully sought their forgiveness from me after I had sought forgiveness from God. But afterwards as the weeks and months went by I experienced some very dark days spiritually. I felt lonelier than I had ever felt in my life. Tears came without any notice, I felt no joy, and thoughts of the sin I had committed were forever circulating through my mind. As I was discussing this one night on the phone with my closest friend, she asked me a question.
One that seemed to shed light on all the darkness I was feeling:
"Have you forgiven yourself?"
I thought about it, and after a pause, said "No". Forgiving myself was not something I had thought of. Was that biblical? When she asked that question something stirred in me, I felt relieved almost, because without being aware of it at all, I suddenly felt and knew in my spirit this was what was causing my dark days. I had not forgiven myself. And we're all familiar with this scripture:
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.--Colossians 3:13But does that mean myself as well? Yes! The root word in Greek for the phrase "one another" ,which is Heautou, also means yourself.
And then it all made sense to me. I had not forgiven myself and by not forgiving myself I was: carrying around bitterness, disgust, anger, self-loathing, and I was opening the door for Satan because when I carry unforgiveness (whether it be against me or another person ) in my heart I'm shutting the door on Christ. And Paul said to forgive others as the Lord forgave you. And the Lord had forgiven me, who did I think I was? Failing to forgive myself was denying the gift of God that is grace through Jesus.
Just as I have gone to God in prayer to forgive others, I went to Him in prayer to forgive myself. Only through Him was I able to let go of that sin as well.
Please understand that forgiving yourself is not done by making excuses for what you did, you don't make excuses for a person you forgive, neither should you for yourself. But just as when we forgive others, we do so because we are called by Christ to, because it brings peace when you let that bitterness go, because how can we have the love of Christ in us as we proclaim to if we can't extend the same mercy to others that He showed us?-- the same applies for forgiving ourselves. Any spirit of unforgiveness, whether against yourself or another person, is not from God.
And the Deceiver? He would have you never forgive yourself. He loves to remind you of what you've done, he loves to whisper not-so-sweet nothings into your ear. He wants you to feel so unworthy that you never darken the doors of church again and eventually cease to talk to God at all.
Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. 2 Cor. 2:10-11
This is why you absolutely must! First because we are called to, and secondly because unforgiveness gives Satan a foothold.
I know because I've been there, those days of my own unforgiveness were some of the darkest ever.
What about you? Have you ever struggled to forgive yourself for something you've done? Even after everyone else had forgiven you?
This post was written from my heart. I'm thankful for the opportunity to write here on Awakening Your Day now for the next three months!! I also have a personal blog, www.aheartlikehers.com , where I share my thoughts and experiences on growing in grace.