I wrote a post this week about how I often get asked by people how they can forgive themselves of the sins of their past, and I haven’t had a great answer for it. Alicia Cosgray wrote a comment to the post that offers great advice and I’d like to share it with everyone. Thanks a lot Alicia:
I really struggled with forgiveness until I realized that forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. It is also not forgetting a past sin, minimizing hurt, or reconciling a relationship. It is just making the decision to forgive.
I can decide to forgive someone else and trust God to deal with them. When I think of them I might still have negative feelings arise but I can find peace knowing that it is not my job, but God’s job to judge them. Forgiving doesn’t mean that you need to rekindle a relationship, sometimes that is not necessary. Forgiveness is for the benefit of the person who forgives; to help you heal.
Forgiving yourself though, is never as easy as forgiving others. It’s not as though we can just erase our memories and forget the bad images, faces or pain that we lived through because of our own actions. Beating ourselves up and always asking “what if” will not lead to healing, and unfortunately those are things that we tend to do too often. Truly understanding that God has forgiven us is the key to forgiving ourselves. You can decide to forgive yourself but that doesn’t mean that you will never have a sad, depressing, negative feeling go through your head ever again. Leaning on God for strength and growth, connecting with other people who have been through the same thing, and sharing your testimony will help you to deal with some of those lingering negative feelings. There are many people who need your help and you might not even realize it until you share your story.
In a recent Bible study I learned that when we say, “I know God can forgive me, but I can’t forgive myself” we are elevating our ability to forgive over God’s ability. And if we don’t completely accept God’s forgiveness, then we are buying the lie that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was not sufficient to cover our sins. Understanding the cross is the key to true forgiveness and freedom.
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