July 31, 2015
Do You Struggle To Forgive Yourself?
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs (Matthew 5:3 NLT).
Friend to Friend
Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is you. Perhaps you have had an abortion, been involved in an extra-marital affair, done something stupid, or hurt someone deeply through your sinful behaviors.
For some, even simple mistakes cause great angst. We endlessly torment ourselves with the thoughts, “I should have known better,” or “What’s wrong with me,” or “I can’t believe I did that,” or “How could I have been so stupid, weak, or blind?”
We spiral downward in debilitating regret, depression, and even self-hatred.
We know God forgives us but the problem is we just can’t forgive ourselves.
We’re told that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), yet that theological truth can be difficult if not impossible to put into practice when you’re smack in the middle of ruminating over your stupid mistakes, missed opportunities, or grievous sin. Although mentally acknowledged, God’s grace is not your internal reality. It’s theological truth but not transformational truth.
The way out of this internal bondage is not self-forgiveness; but rather self-acceptance. The reason you can’t forgive yourself is often that deep down you don’t want to have anything to need forgiveness for.
You believe you should know how to always do it right, to say it right, to know ahead of time what the right answer should be or what right solution will best solve a problem.
You believe you shouldn’t ever mess up, or fall into serious sin.
When you fail to live up to these standards, you feel profound disappointment and shame. You can’t believe how stupid, sinful, foolish, incompetent, scared, irresponsible, selfish, (whatever) you are. In beating yourself up, you reinforce your internal lie that you should have been better than that.
Before you can experientially accept God’s grace and forgiveness, you must first emotionally (not merely intellectually) accept who you are. You are a creature: one who is called both saint and sinner, beautiful and broken. Humility is the only path that will give you the internal freedom you crave because once you are humble –Jesus called it “poor in spirit,” you are in a position to emotionally accept who you are— a fallible, imperfect, sinful creature who doesn’t know it all. Then you are no longer so shocked, shamed, or disappointed when you see your darker, sinful, weaker side.
Friend, it is not your sins and failures that cause your greatest emotional pain. It is your unrealistic expectations of yourself and your lack of acceptance when you mess up. In a backwards way, your pride has been wounded. You are disappointed that you aren’t better than you are. But the truth is, you’re not.
In embracing this truth, you are now set free to experience the beauty of God’s grace. Now the grip of self-hatred for being imperfect no longer has the same power over you. Instead of hating yourself when you mess up, you can fully experience what you so desperately crave, God’s love and forgiveness for your sinful, imperfect self.
Dear Lord, Help me to accept myself as a limited, fallible, beautiful but broken human being that can’t do everything right or know everything ahead of time. When I fall short, help me practice humility instead of being disappointed that I am not better than I am. Thank you that You give me something I cannot give myself, unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Next time you start focusing inward on your flaws and failures turn your eyes away from yourself and toward Christ. Both Moses and Peter learned humility through their failures, and it was only from that place could God use them mightily (Exodus 2:12; John 18:15-27).
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s devotion is by our GiG Friday Friend, Leslie Vernick who is a popular speaker, author, and licensed clinical social worker and relationship coach. She is the author of seven books, including the best selling, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. For more on Leslie, visit her website: www.LeslieVernick.com
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