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Posts tagged ‘Forgiving self’


SOURCE:  Charles Stanley

Forgive me? How could God ever forgive me? You don’t know what I’ve done.”

“Forgive that person after what she did to me? You’ve got to be kidding!”

“I can’t believe I’ve done such an awful thing. I can never forgive myself for doing that.”

These are confessions I have heard often as a pastor. They are the confessions of people who have godly parents, who have grown up in church, and who have heard sermons about forgiveness all their lives. And yet, they persist in believing that there is something unique about their situation that puts them beyond the realm of God’s forgiveness.

The result is bondage.

The bondage of living in guilt and unforgiveness stifles a person’s ability to love and to receive love. It stunts the growth of a marriage and friendships. It keeps a person from entering into all that the Lord might have for him in the way of ministry or outreach. It keeps a person from enjoying the full abundant life that Christ promised to those who believe in Him (John 10:10). And bondage, my friend, is never the desire of God for His children.

God’s desire for you today is that you be free in your spirit—free to embrace all the blessings, challenges, and joys that the Lord has for you now and in your future. God’s desire is for you to experience complete forgiveness, which is forgiveness of your sins and a full restoration in your relationship to the Lord God, forgiveness of others who have wronged you, and forgiveness of yourself.

Limited forgiveness will never do. Complete forgiveness is required if you are to know personally and fully that God is your loving heavenly Father, and if you are ever to reach your personal destiny in this life.

 A Definition of Forgiveness

Forgiveness does not mean, “It didn’t matter.”

If you have been hurt by someone, or if you have committed a sin, it does matter.

There is no justification for sin that stands up in God’s presence. If you have sinned, you need to recognize that your sin is a blot on your soul, one that you can’t and therefore shouldn’t attempt to sweep under the rug or ignore. Sin matters. Hurt, pain, bondage, and guilt come in the aftermath of sin, and you are unwise to try to deny their reality.

Forgiveness does not mean, “I’ll get over it in time.”

The memory of a particular incident or action may fade with time, but it never disappears.

If you have committed a sin before God, the effects of that sin remain in your life until you receive God’s forgiveness for it. You may not immediately feel the consequences of your sin—which can cause you to think that God has overlooked your sin or that it has been resolved in some way—but the consequences of sin will manifest themselves. They lie as dormant “bad seeds” in your life.

The same holds true for a wrong that another person commits against you.

You may think that time will heal. Time by itself doesn’t heal anything. Only the Lord Jesus Christ and His forgiveness working in and through you can heal the hurt you have felt. A wrong that you attempt to bury will only rot in your heart and very easily can turn into bitterness, anger, and hatred—all of which are not only destructive emotions to the person who harbors them, but the root of destructive behavior that may affect others.

Forgiveness does not mean, “There will be no penalty.”

Some people believe that God skips over certain sins when He surveys the hearts of people. This is usually the response of people who hope that God will make a detour around their sin and that they’ll get away with their sin.

There are other times, however, when we are fearful that God will forget to punish those who have wronged us. They may even seem to be prospering, and we feel a need to hold on to our unforgiveness until we are certain that the other people are punished in some way. We hold on to the prerogative of vengeance just in case God has forgotten about the incident or in case He intends to do nothing about it.

At still other times, we know we deserve to be punished, but God doesn’t seem to be taking any negative action against us, so we refuse to forgive ourselves as a form of self–punishment.

These definitions don’t hold water when they are subjected to the truth of God’s Word.

Sin matters. It always matters.

Sin and the effects of sin don’t disappear over time of their own natural accord. Sin must be forgiven, or it remains unforgiven.

Sin always has consequences. It always bears with it the ultimate penalty of death.

What, then, is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is “the act of setting someone free from an obligation to you that is a result of a wrong done against you.”

Forgiveness involves three elements:

1. An injury. A wrong is committed. Pain, hurt, suffering, or guilt is experienced (consciously or subconsciously).
2. A debt resulting from the injury. There is a consequence that is always detrimental and puts someone into a deficit state of some kind.
3. A cancellation of the debt.


Stanley, C. F. (1996). Experiencing forgiveness. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.



SOURCE:  Adapted from    The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiving Oneself

Forgiving yourself is an opportunity to free you of pain and anger that has built up over time. Forgiveness moves you from focusing on a past hurt into the present.  You may not forget the hurtful event, but you can move on with your life.  This choice to forgive yourself may not be a one-time event and may take time to do, but over time you will find yourself living without the familiar pain you are used to carrying with you. Forgiving yourself may not be easy, but the alternative is choosing to live with the pain of bitterness and resentment toward yourself.

Failure to forgive ourselves can result in:

•Continually being hurt by unresolved pain, suffering and ways of acting that harm us

•Low self-esteem and low self-worth

• Being overly defensive or distant in relationships

• Unnecessary guilt and remorse that wear us down.

• Self-destructive behavior

Forgiving ourselves can have many benefits such as:

• Learning to love yourself in healthy ways and no longer beating yourself up for your mistakes

• Realizing we are human and all make mistakes

• Letting go of hurtful memories and painful events and developing an optimistic view for the future

•Realizing you have value and self-worth can open you up to loving others in new ways and demanding respect for yourself

Forgiving Another Person

Even in the closest of our relationships we can harbor unforgiveness.  Taking some time to reflect on our relationship can help us identify and dislodge any unforgiveness that may be present.  If pain and resentment are left unchecked in our relationship, and the healing power of forgiveness has not been made use of resentment, bitterness or a loss of hope could develop.

We often carry around misperceptions of what forgiveness is and these misperceptions impede our ability to forgive or be forgiven.

It is important to know what forgiveness is not:

• Forgiveness is not forgetting.  We often will not forget a hurtful event, but we can still seek and grant forgiveness.

• Forgiveness is not having resolved all the painful feelings.  Often the hurtful feelings will last. But we can still seek and grant forgiveness.

• Forgiveness is not absolving someone from the responsibility of what they have done. What they did was wrong; you are simply choosing to not let it negatively impact you (and your relationship) anymore.

• Forgiveness is not accepting being continually hurt.  If you are in an abusive relationship or one in which you are regularly being hurt, then that pattern must change.  You do not deserve to be hurt.  This may require staying away from the offending person to protect yourself.

• Forgiveness does not mean the relationship is always back to where it was before.  If the offense is minor, you might be able to go back to where you were.  If the offense is serious, it may take time (even years) to rebuild trust in the relationship.  Forgiveness is simply starting this healing process.

Parents Teaching Children to Forgive

Parents teach their children forgiveness in a variety of ways.  While there are many ways to learn forgiveness, one of the most effective is for children to see their parents modeling forgiveness in their daily life.  Children can also benefit from their parents instruction on forgiveness.  Like most life lessons, teaching forgiveness to your child will be a continual process, but one that can bear great fruit.

Children, especially young children, are very impressionable.  As you teach your child how to forgive it will be an on-going process.  You may even have to give your child the words to say if they have not developed the vocabulary of forgiveness yet.

An example might look like:

Parent: “Johnny, you hit your sister and now she is hurt. You need to say “I’m sorry.’”

(Or if the child is older, “I feel bad that I hurt you and I am sorry for hitting you.”)

Johnny: “I’m sorry Sally.”

Parent: “Very good Johnny. Now give your sister a hug to let her know that you are sorry.”

Johnny hugs his sister.

Parent: “Now I want you to play nicely with your sister.  If you get angry, use your words.

Hitting is not appropriate.  Have fun.”

The parent gave her child the words and actions to do in step-by-step fashion.  Children often can only remember one step at time.  Following the words and actions of forgiveness, the parent set a new course of action for the child, one without violence.  When your child responds to your request, be sure to reward his behavior by saying “Thank you” or “Good job” or hug them yourself.  This process may have to be repeated over and over, but in time it can bear fruit.

As your children get older their lives will get more complex and nuanced and they will need an ever expanding capacity to forgive.  They will need to learn problem-solving and conflict resolution skills as they get older, but the foundation that you have taught them as a child will help make this process go smoother.  They will always need to see you role model these and other skills.

If you feel ill-equipped to teach your children forgiveness, take the time to go to your local library and get some books or tapes on forgiveness. Check your local community for parenting classes. These resources will be especially important if you did not receive these skills yourself as you were growing up.  We all learn forgiveness in a variety of ways.

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