We’ve all done it to some extent or another… made some mistake in our past, vowed to never do it again and to forgive ourselves so we’d learn from our past, yet we still hold the offense over our heads, providing guilt whenever we are reminded of the incident and dwell on it.
I believe there is a tendency for us as humans to hold ourselves more accountable than others. We give ourselves a much higher set of standards. We sometimes find ourselves justifying forgiving others, but never ourselves. In our mind, there is no justification for forgiving our past sins, regardless of how big or how small. It’s hard not to feel like our minds are holding us captive with the constant reminder of what was done. We feel so trapped that we can’t truly forgive ourselves and move on like we wish to; however, this is not how God intended it to be.
“God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34). He doesn’t pick and choose who He wants to forgive. He forgives anyone who believes in Jesus. Therefore, we should do the same. God does not want us to hold ourselves to an impossible standard when we don’t do the same to others. If we can forgive others’ wrongful doings, surely then we can learn to forgive our own sinful nature. It is just as important to God that we forgive ourselves as we forgive others.
Yes, I know it’s harder to forgive yourself than to forgive others. After all, they don’t live in your head, reading the same old list of past mistakes over and over until you break, but God doesn’t choose that path for us.
In Jeremiah 31:34 it states that He remembers our sins “no more.” Now this is not implying that our all-knowing Father forgets our sins, but that, because He chose to forgive us, He also chose to not hold our wrongful doings over us to bring up in a negative manner when opportune further down the road. Yes, sin is sin, and sin is still not to be committed. That principle is undeniable; however, we are human and need to learn to quit holding our mistakes over our heads in order to avoid those taunting thoughts from swooping in when we’re feeling like a failure & torment us with what was supposed to be all behind us. Surely if God has moved on from our past mistakes, shouldn’t we? Yes, we need to take responsibility for what we have done; however, God does not call on us to dwell on our past mistakes. He tells us in Philippians 4:8 that we are to dwell on those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.
Philippians 4:9 says we are to “put into practice what we have learned from God and His word.” To continue to recite in our heads the list of past wrongful doings goes against everything God tells us to do. God calls us to focus on what is right, not what is wrong. Our focus needs to shift from our past sins to how to prevent future sins.
Keeping anger and resentment towards ourselves is draining. All the negative energy we give to those tasks take away from our supply of energy that we desperately need to become who God calls us to be.
Life is filled with choices. Forgiving ourselves is a choice. Forgiving ourselves is not letting us off the hook or justifying the action of wrongdoing, and it definitely is not a sign of weakness. Choosing to forgive ourselves is something that requires incredible strength and courage – the same strength and courage that God provides us with when we choose to seek Him.
It’s about time we start choosing to forgive our past and become an overcomer rather than a victim of our own painful reminders and resentment.
Forgiving ourselves, as well as others, is the way God intended for things to be.