“I just can’t forgive myself.”
I have heard this said by women who have done horrible things, things they completely regret, things that haunt them, things that they just can’t seem to let go of and move on from.
And I totally get this. I have huge regrets in my life. A ton of choices that I would give anything to be able to go back and redo. I’m confident that with my wisdom, gained afterwards, I’d choose differently.
But there is no going back. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I no longer believe in Plan B. So I obsess over the wrong choice or the sin and I kick myself and wonder what if and carry the guilt and shame around with me as if it’s tethered to my back.
So I totally get the concept of ‘not being able to forgive oneself’, but I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe the words are right.
I believe wholeheartedly that when someone claims that she cannot forgive herself – over her divorce or her affair or her abortion or staying too long in an abusive situation or what-have-you – that what she really means is she cannot truly believe that God has forgiven her or is even able to. That what she has done has fallen just outside the boundaries of the grace of God.
We don’t want to word it this way though because we know how that sounds. It sounds like we’re saying we don’t believe the Word of God is true when it says that we will be forgiven of all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). It sounds like we’re saying that God therefore is a liar. It sounds like we’re saying that what Jesus did on the cross was all good and fine, and that he died for the sins of the world, and that his death conquered and killed sin, just not ours. Our sin was too bad. And we don’t want to sound like this is what we’re saying.
But if I have done something really awful, and I am sincerely sorrowful over it, and I have asked Christ to forgive me, I am forgiven.
There is nothing else to add to the equation. Self-flogging is not part of the deal. God didn’t say that he’d send Christ to die for us and we also need to beat ourselves up for a little while/a few years/the rest of our lives and then we’ll be forgiven. Nope, it’s just the Jesus part.
And there’s nothing that falls just outside of what was nailed to the cross. God isn’t up there thinking, “Oh crud, she did that?! Because I didn’t make provisions for that…now what am I going to do with her? I guess she’ll just have to live with the guilt.” Uh-uh, all of sin was taken out. All of your sin was covered over. Even that really, really bad thing you did.
So, you’ve got a secret? Are you carrying around guilt? There’s really only one thing to do. Go to God about it. Ask him once and for all to forgive you, but then ask him to help you experience the forgiveness, to feel the forgiveness, to choose to know it to be true even when you don’t feel it. And then, sweet girl, walk in it.
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Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Amy Hunt says
Oh, girl! These are great words of worship and truths to focus on each day. Yes, He does forgive us. And when we don’t accept His forgiveness we’re putting our perspective as more important than His. We idolize ourself. We make our view out to be god instead of Him. I think you’re right that we just don’t believe He can do it…but there’s so much grace there. He’s already forgiven us and He gives us a journey to walk through where He strengthens our faith. Amazing grace, for sure.
Rich blessings, Elisabeth, as He continues to speak to your heart in deep and personal ways, of how He loves you and has purpose for your story.
Thanks so very much for this devotion this
Morning <3 I asked the Lord to help move past some things that I knew he'd forgiven me for but was not letting go of in my heart <3
Perfect Truths with which to start a day. You have written this in such a beautiful way. Thanks for this on this day. And it will be a new Mercies Day again today, thank you Jesus for them.
I think it is fairly common for us to think we aren’t worthy of that divine grace, when all He wants to do is love us.
If we could really wrap our minds around grace……we would live in so much freedom.
I deal with this….and I needed this word today. Thank you 🙂
Beth Williams says
God has truly blessed you with a gift of eloquent writing.
So many of us have done things we believe are unforgivable, yet God in His infinite mercy and grace has forgiven us. If we could just wrap our minds and thoughts around the fact the He crazy loves us NO MATTER WHAT!! Just accept the fact and tell the world that you accept/believe in Jesus and You have eternal life.
Sounds to simple and some times we do things that are hard to forgive-even ourselves.
Beautiful, Elisabeth. Satan loves to lie to us in this way, whispering shame and unworthiness over and over until we believe Him. Thanks for boldly speaking out against this unhealthy (and unBiblical) way to live. We all need this reminder. Just last night I was reliving poor choices in my mind even though I’ve been following Jesus for years. Thank you.
Julee Ann says
… and I would like to add this goes for the “not-so-big-sins” as well!!!
A wasted life, laziness, gossip, mistakes with our children, being mediocre in our faith, puffing oneself up, bragging, coveting, and even those little white lies.
We are daughters (and sons) of the most high God. We are in the Royal Family. We should live like it. Whenever you see Prince William and Kate, they are acting like royalty. They even wave royally 😉 We need to act forgiven! We should see the world through our Father’s eyes.
There is now no condemnation!
Robyn @ a bird in the Father's hand says
I am encouraged by this today. I hope not to say this lie any more, of “not forgiving myself.” Recently God’s been delivering me from self-inflicted shame, and like Judas I’ve not always handed my guilt over to Christ. Instead I held onto it like it was mine to remedy. But God challenged me to be more like Peter, who, though he was just as guilty of betraying Jesus, surrendered the payment to Him and therefore received grace. Jesus paid for me – I am forgiven, and I want to live like it.
So needed to hear this!! Been carrying a huge bag of guilt for almost three years now.. walking into the grace of God, i find it so hard to believe that someone can love me so much!
DogFur and Dandelions » Food for the body, the soul, and the mind. says
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