One of the hardest things I have had to learn to do in my life was to forgive myself. And really, it’s an ongoing process. But it’s vital to a healthy, growing relationship with Christ.
For years, my focus was on forgiving others. I prided myself on my ability to let go of hurt and anger. But I’ve come to realize that stuffing my feelings down doesn’t equal forgiveness. And it is almost impossible to truly understand the root of this heart action derived of decision, until you have learned to extend that grace to yourself.
This came very clear as I was struggling my way through divorce. I knew in my head I needed to find my way past those feelings, so I dug in my heels and got down to the business of forgiving. The problem was, I didn’t feel any different. I knew well that you can’t base much of anything of feelings, but I also knew that over time the anger and bitterness should begin to subside and it just wasn’t happening. I was putting on a friendly voice and smile when interacting with my ex-husband, but all that pent-up emotion was lurking just beneath the surface…like a simmering pot threatening to boil over.
When I finally opened my eyes to the fact that I had to stop rehearsing the wrongs against me over and over in my head, I began to see my part in it. And more than that, I saw I hadn’t forgiven myself. Let me tell you from experience, you can’t just grit your teeth and smile through being down on yourself. It sucks the very life out of you. I would say this revelation was my darkest moment.
I’ve wrestled my way through learning to truly extend forgiveness, both to myself and to others. I’ve cried more tears than I care to remember and have been humbled on many occasions. I want more than anything to help you find your way, if this is an area where you struggle.
Beginning Monday, we’ll begin a series of topic studies. As you may have guessed, the first will be on forgiveness. Using the Bible and a concordance, we’ll dig for its true meaning and discover just how simple it really is. The theme of all posts next week will be on forgiveness, though you’ll find the actual study through a tab added at the top of the home page.