God talks a great deal about forgiving others in the Bible and it is an important part of our Christian walk. But, I also believe when He says to forgive others, He also means ourselves too. I am a typical perfectionist, I don’t like to make mistakes, I certainly don’t like to make bad decisions that affect not just myself but others. Still, I’ve spent a lot of time angry with myself and grieving for years over bad choices.
One of the choices I’ve had a hard time getting over, is how I handled money and my career when I was younger. Growing up, I blew many opportunities that could have been so beneficial to me today. Instead, I fought to pay off debts, bad credit and a career that kept changing. I’m not saying all that to pout or get pity, just that decisions we make have long arms. Still…even though I made these mistakes, the biggest mistake of all is to never forgive myself and to not let God’s grace and mercy help me decide to move on past this and do what I can to improve.
Not Forgiving Paralyzes Us.
We don’t like physical pain. When we have to go to the doctor’s office or through surgery, we want to heal as quickly as possible and get back to living our lives. So, why then do we keep emotional pain so close to us for so long? Why is it so hard to heal emotionally? I believe that sometimes there’s an underlying feeling we haven’t dealt with…maybe it’s a choice we made and it didn’t turn out like we thought it would and now we’re paying a heavy price for that decision. Whatever choices we make, if we go to God with an honest heart and earnestly ask Him to forgive us, then we MUST forgive ourselves. I said, “we MUST forgive ourselves!“
Unforgiveness works the same when we won’t forgive others and ourselves. If we stay angry on the inside, we never live free. We become a slave to our own unforgiveness and we become even mad at the world. No one can get close to us and we can’t get close to anyone either. We have to give over the pain to God in all instances. Another thing is we can’t ask God to do something for us that we won’t do ourselves.
Think about physical pain for a moment. Who wants to go through the day with a bad headache or toothache, back pain, sore feet or even a cut finger? Think about how quickly you grab the medicine. Why? Because you don’t want to feel that physical pain. Emotional pain hurts worse than physical and if left unchecked also has long arms. There’s no hope left and what good does it do to stay angry at our past choices.
There’s Hope with Forgiving Oneself.
Just as there’s a freedom that comes with letting hurts go that others have inflicted on us, there’s also freedom when we put behind the choices we’ve made and determine in our heart to go on. What purpose does it serve for me to be angry that I never got that college degree or that I turned down a job that could have allowed me to head an office a few years later?
The path I took is the path I took and yet God in His infinite wisdom still knows how to get me to the finish line. Yes, I might have had take several detours and perhaps the lessons learned are hard ones, but God promised to turn my ashes to beauty and to always be with me. And His word will not return to Him void. ~ Read Isaiah 55:11.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. – Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)
Once we make our minds to no longer look back but instead to look forward, new opportunities can surface. God can do a mighty work in our lives if our hands are outstretched towards Him. He can give us new vision for the future and new miracles can begin to happen. The word here is “new“. He makes all things new!
Get a new vision for yourself today, stop looking back, don’t keep this emotional pain close to you anymore. Even if you made choices that affected other people and you’ve tried to make amends but it seems to be going nowhere, don’t give up! God knows where you’re at.
If you’ve asked for forgiveness from someone you hurt and didn’t receive it, let it go and give it to God entirely. You cannot paralyze yourself hoping that the person you hurt will come back and everything will be alright again. Life doesn’t stop just because we do. Forgive yourself today so that God can give you a New Hope, a New Dream, and a New Vision.