Have you ever said, “I can’t forgive myself”

There are three realities that need to be worked through in order to forgive myself.

  1. Guilt – the reality of being morally unjustified in the hurt I caused, especially before my holy God
  2. Restitution – the very real responsibility I have to restore what I’ve taken, or repay what I’ve broken
  3. Shame – my deep soul stain of unworthiness, ugliness, and fear of rejection

226256bf69baaa647fecfd65edfe2adc pinterest (GardensDesign_com)Guilt arises because I’ve no moral justification for doing what I did, especially before my holy God who holds every life sacred and is exalted as the ultimate judge over all matters. The remedy is singular. To be free from guilt, I must recognize that ultimately only God can forgive sin, and accept humbly what he has to offer. My friend’s forgiveness does not pardon my guilt, nor will any act of forgiveness toward myself. My only option is to accept God’s forgiveness through Christ.

Restitution is appropriate and honorable.  But restitution can only go so far. Usually what is taken away or destroyed can never be completely restored by the offender.  But what I can do to make restitution, I should.  When I do, my responsibility toward the offender returns to respecting and serving him as my neighbor – like every other neighbor I have.

Shame is another matter altogether.  A sense of guilt is taken away when I rest in God’s mercy. The responsibility of restitution is over when I’ve done what I can to make amends.  But the shame cast over my soul is another matter because it’s the sense of unworthiness and ugliness that now grips my soul.

In shame, I see myself as unlovable – especially to myself. Another way of saying I can’t forgive myself is to say I cannot love who I’ve become, based on what I’ve done. That’s the problem of shame. I may fear I am likely to cause the same injuries again, and I certainly fear that I won’t be found acceptable by those I value the most.  Shame colors me so deeply at that point that I can’t imagine ever being free again to enjoy being the person God has made me to be.

How am I finally freed from shame and able to smile again at the unique person God has created in me? 

1912898824-How_do_I_forgive_myself quotesgram_comLove is the answer.  The Scriptures teach us that God’s perfect love casts out fear, and over and over again calls us to forgive one another.  This is an extreme, radical kind of loving that can heal my guilty soul at the deepest level – where the pool of shame I’m hiding in is deep and dark.

So, my shame-covered soul begins to move from living in the stagnant, stinking waters of shame to living in the life-giving stream of love that flows from the heart of God.  I say, “Please God forgive me.” And He does.  I plead, “Please God, LOVE me,” and miracle of miracles, I discover that He does!  I say to the one I’ve offended, “Please forgive me.” And in God’s grace, he may.  I wonder if I’m lovable, and miracle of miracles, God puts people in my life who choose to respect me as a human being and go beyond that to love me in tangible ways. It’s then, that I am able to once again be thankful for who I am in God’s creation.  I no longer feel any need to justify myself, or make myself lovable because simply, I AM loved.

David Ewert (Thursday, February 1, 2018)

A month of Bible verses for reflection and growth toward being once again fully, freely alive!

  1. Genesis 33:1-17
  2. Genesis 50:15-21
  3. Exodus 22:1, 3-6, 14
  4. Leviticus 6:2-5
  5. Psalm 19:12-14
  6. Psalm 32
  7. Psalm 51
  8. Psalm 103
  9. Psalm 139:7-16, 23-24
  10. Isaiah 6:6-8
  11. Isaiah 30:15
  12. Isaiah 44:21-23
  13. Matthew 6:9-15
  14. Mark 12:29-31
  15. Luke 5:31-32
  16. Luke 19:1-10
  17. Luke 17:3-5
  18. John 8:1-11
  19. John 21:15-23
  20. Acts 3:18-20
  21. Romans 3:9-26
  22. Romans 10:9-10
  23. 2 Corinthians 7:5-13
  24. Galatians 6:1-5
  25. Ephesians 3:14-21
  26. Ephesians 4:25-32
  27. Ephesians 5:15-21
  28. Philippians 2:1-8, 3:7-21
  29. Philemon 1:10-20
  30. 1 John 4:7-21

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