Friday, February 6, 2009

The Biggie-Forgiveness of Self

A few weeks ago I posted the redemption story I'd experienced with my good friend. Out of that post a question came up about the hardest part of forgiveness, forgiveness of self.

When we are part of the problem and have come to admit it, the next obstacle is moving past the phase of beating ourselves up and into forgiveness. It's complex, abstract, and individual. It can even be a stronghold of the devil.

I write from my primary experience with this, through watching other women as they walk the road of abortion recovery. Much of my framework for this topic flows from this point of view, but the principles here can apply to many situations. Also, this is hardly an exhaustive coverage, but more like a springboard to get you thinking and praying.

Consider these things as you work through forgiving yourself:

Are you placing yourself higher than God? Often it is easier to allow God to forgive us (if this is not the case for you, please talk to a mature believer about it) than for us to let go of our sin. If the God of the universe, maker of heaven & earth has removed our sin, who are we to hold tightly to it? We then put ourselves in the place of ignorantly acting as we know better than God.

Our sin has become our pet. It's more comfortable to become the victim of our sin, to know all its ins and outs, to be the resident expert on it. This is actually entrapment! What growth lies ahead for the person who can look to the future and not to the past! Sure, use your past as a testimony for what the Lord can do, share it to minister to other people, but don't let it be your only story-there's more life ahead, don't miss it! Don't get so comfortable with the grief that you enjoy wrapping yourself warmly in it-let it go, there's freedom in shedding the layers!

Is your sin tied to something or someone you don't want to forget? Sometimes women don't want to heal fully from their abortion because they're afraid they'll forget their baby. Forgiving and forgetting aren't the same at all, my friend. Instead of a memory thick with guilt and condemnation, the memory of the sin (or the other people/places involved) will become a beautiful, built-from-the-ashes kind of memory. If you want a tangible memory, consider journaling about it, planting a tree in the honor of the aborted child (or appropriate person) or making a donation in honor/memory of the event or person involved.

Are you punishing yourself? Many women punish themselves when they avoid steps to healing, especially after an abortion. They feel if the world won't punish them, then they'll just do it themselves. Consequences of sin, such as a broken marriage as the consequence of adultery are not punishment, but consequences. God does not punish us after he's granted us forgiveness, therefore we have no business punishing ourselves.

The devil has his hand in it. This is not an "if" this is a fact. If the devil can keep you stuck he will. He will therefore diminish your ability to find peace and to use your pain to minister to others. Remember to see him as he is-a forfeit, the king of lies, your vilest enemy. Don't play into his hand!

Your Father wants you to have life and have it abundantly-which means not walking around with your head hung down in guilt & shame. Once you walk with your head held high, you can see all the hurting people who need the hope of your story. Don't hand the "life abundant" part over to the devil!

I'll leave you with this scripture:

Isaiah 61:1-4 (New International Version)
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach 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 prisoners2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness 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. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long ago devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

This is a hard topic to face. If you want someone to bounce things off of, to ask questions or to pray with you, feel free to email me at A wonderful study on the subject of forgiveness is Beth Moore's Breaking Free.


Luke said...

Forgiving ourselves is often the hardest part. There is a line in an Adventures in Odyssey episode where the person says, "I can't ask you or even God to forgive me because I can't forgive myself." And I think that's a very common feeling.

May we all take to heart what you have written, and find the joy that comes from forgiveness, grace, and redemption.


Scott said...

Had someone hand me an article this week about self-forgiveness of a specific issue, and it basically said this as a one-time thing to do:

Quit trying to lump an entire incident or issue into being one person's fault. Sin in our life is 'ultimately' our fault but not necessarily 'all' our fault and we have to understand the difference. We need to be willing to give different things their due 'fault' and overcome those things so they don't happen again. For instance, you can have bad friends, family members, your upbringing, relationship with your spouse or kids or parents...or even a job, career, or circumstance, etc. that played major roles in your struggle with a particular sin. We have a tendency to want to say 'IT'S ALL ____ FAULT'...filling that blank with my, your, his, her, that thing's, my job's, etc. We have to realize that Satan uses an array of things to put us down tempting paths...including making us think we don't have a choice at times. The article didn't suggest letting everyone know what their role was, but to allow yourself to see what all was involved in that sin and securing each area accordingly...Then you aren't dealing with something that is ALL your fault and it can make it easier to forgive yourself for what you actually did and not what everyone else did.

I know you can pick this article apart some saying it doesn't focus on our relationship with God, but I like it because it started off giving you all the answers you probably already know about how God feels about us and moved into this particular 'exercise' to give you a little more specific help.

Sometimes I think Satan isn't even as concerned about the sin he tempts us with, but more about the guilt he can throw on us...or cause us to throw on ourselves.. afterward.

Supermom2JakeAndEmmy said...

This is such a great post, and a topic that I have been struggling with lately. I'll post a blog about it later and give the whole story . . .

Wendy said...

That's exactly what we do in post abortion recovery classes. We take the issue apart, layer by layer and work through it all. I think you're right when you say not to lump it all together, it's way too overwhelming that way. Just like you said, Satan helps lure you there, then reminds you every day what you did.