I’ve often heard “I just can’t forgive myself” or “How do you forgive yourself?” Good question. It can be tough.

Does it go without saying that forgiveness requires honesty?Welcome yourself! This a part of forgiving yourself. To forgive means to not hold prior offenses against a person - even if the person is yourself.

– that is, confession. It does. It requires openness to reality, without obsessing about whether we got it all defined exactly right.  We know there’s a problem, we look at it without trying to fudge, and we name or describe it. That can be hard – but we seldom get effective treatment without at least a fairly accurate description of the problem.

Then we go to the following insights:

A) NO MORE BARRIER:

“Forgiveness means the offense is no longer a barrier to a loving relationship.” (Martin Luther King). That’s true even if you’re forgiving yourself!  I don’t dare go on

  • hating myself,
  • holding a grudge,
  • treating myself poorly,
  • or refusing to do good,

If I do, that means the offense (mistake, stupidity, cowardice, evil) from the distant or near past, is still dominating my life.  We don’t want that. Forgiveness means being free of it – and Christ makes that morally possible.

B) UNFAIRNESS:

“Forgiveness means the offense is no longer a barrier to a loving relationship.” (Martin Luther King). That’s true even if it’s oneself!
But how CAN one forgive. It seems very unfair to forgive. Surely we should hold a grudge for behavior that is stupid, or cowardly, evil.  But it seems God forgives many, many times every day – all the time. Do we see ourselves, morally, above God? God knows much better than you or I how unfair it is – but thinks it’s both absolutely necessary, AND very appropriate. In fact, the universe, as God has established it, runs on forgiveness!

C) ACCEPTANCE:

“Forgiveness requires acceptance of the fact that the past is not going to change.”  So it really IS forgiveness, and it really does let go of the past, and of the offense. It accepts the reality of our own history. It does not approve, but it allows that it will exist as part of our experience. And it moves on.

It seems very unfair to forgive. Surely we should hold a grudge for behavior that is stupid, cowardly, evil. But it seems God forgives many, many times every day - all the time. Do we see ourselves, morally, above God?Click To Tweet

D) FREEDOM:

Thus – forgiveness really is about freedom – the freedom to go ahead and do the work we are given, honor the relationships we have, and try to do and be what  we can.  It’s wonderful.

E) WELCOME:

And in forgiving ourselves, we can’t ask the question “Do I want to let this person back in my life.”  Duh!

That is appropriate in some situations, but is neither appropriate nor even possible with yourself. So just go to work on having a nice relationship.

Forgive,

work on better patterns, and go ahead and develop a more friendly relationship with yourself.