Forgiving Ourselves & Forgiving God

After I wrote something of forgiveness basics last week, a friend asked for more about how we forgive ourselves and God when necessary.

Forgiving Ourselves

In the process of healing, forgiveness is like the master-key, a spiritual turning that unlocks us from what has us bound and allows us to then walk free and become healed.  God has done beautiful work in my life when I have forgiven or have extended forgiveness.

We can spot the sins of others where we know we’ve been hurt, and then with God’s help, move towards forgiving, but what about our own mistakes?  We may recognize our own sin, but, like spotting a body along the roadside while continuing to walk, we don’t take steps to do anything about the problem.  One myth we need to remove from our mental page before we go any further is that if we’ve asked for forgiveness from God once, then we don’t need to anymore.  That is simply untrue.  Every time He reveals truth to our hearts, we need to come to a place of agreement with Him about it.  He’s not out to condemn us, but to free us and bring wholeness into our lives.

In my life, because of the wrong high level of responsibility I assumed, it’s been hardest to forgive myself of things I did that caused others pain, especially my children.  Those times where my decisions had caused their lives to be hard or where, looking back I saw the disappointment and pain that had resulted, were heavy to carry, and yet impossible to put down on my own.

I came to realize I had asked God to forgive me, I had asked children to forgive me, but was still holding some things against myself anyway.  I was holding judgment against my life, long after God had extended His grace and it was placed under the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice, covered red.  Holding onto that unforgiveness was hurting me.  Holding onto it and not extending myself the same grace that had been extended by God said my standard of my not being a “perfect parent” was above His.  Because it also shouted loudly without a word that Jesus was not enough, it left the door open for the enemy to hammer me about my failures again and again.  It built a wall up in my life that had separated me from the fullness of peace the Lord wanted me to have.

The harboring of anger, resentment, bitterness, or judgment that lie buried within, even if it seems justified, creates painful, rotting deposits that need God’s forgiveness, cleansing, and healing.  When I realized I was living with self-condemnation that would jump up and slap me with an over-reaction of pain if something about the past came up, I quickly went to God who gladly relieved me of it.  Jesus touched the wounded places and brought healing.

If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us all our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  ~1 John 2:9

Faithful.  Just.  Will forgive all.

Forgiving God

But what about forgiving God for things that have happened?  Isn’t He our Father?  Isn’t He our protector?  Then why has He allowed hurtful things into my life?

Sometimes we feel angry and blame God for what was actually the work of the enemy.  This always reveals more of the condition of our hearts and of our belief system.  If I am holding God responsible for the choices of someone else or the work of satan, then I am saying He is not trustworthy or faithful to His word. It is evidence that I need more understanding of who God is!

There have been times in my life where I expressed my anger to God for what He was allowing or the path He had placed me on, but after I emptied my heart of its angry contents, I was able to feel His comfort and hear His truth about my life.

When someone else makes a choice that hurts me, it’s not God’s fault.  When something bad happens, do I continue to blame Him?  I can, but it won’t be based in truth.  I believe God protects me more times than I am aware of, but He also allows me to learn.  The difficult times that come not only increase my trust in Him, but also help me to become more surrendered to His Lordship.  Then I am able to comfort others with how the Father has comforted me.

Watch for signs in your emotions and reactions and let those be a map to where there is undetected brokenness and wounding in your life from unforgiveness so that Jesus can heal it.

In answer to Peter’s question about the number of times one must forgive, Jesus said “Seventy times seven” and in effect means “Peter, stop counting and just forgive!”  We continue to forgive until the pain is healed.  If Jesus forgives me, then I must forgive myself, and stop blaming God.  Forgiveness brings peace and wholeness and opens the way for Kingdom life to go forward.  And isn’t that what we want?

(c) September 2011, Robin Lawrimore

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19 thoughts on “Forgiving Ourselves & Forgiving God

  1. Arthur Burk

    I find that many of us are “Protestant Catholics.” We like the Protestant picture of instant forgiveness by God, but then we turn right around and demand penance from ourselves, before we forgive ourselves.

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  2. Ronda

    As one who has fought (and too often lost) the battle to forgive myself, I find your heart thoughts a wonderful reminder of how vital it is that I continue to do just that, and get on with it. I am days away from returning to circumstances that usually unlock my (seemingly unending) tendency to beat myself up, but have found the Lord touching deeply the places in me that have opened that door in the past. I’m expecting things to be different this round, and your post is a reminder of just how possible that is. Thank you!

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  3. Wendy Maree

    I like Arthur’s comment. Coming from a catholic background, i really get it. I have often wondered why the issue of forgiveness is such a huge problem for us. It is the basis of our beliefs – we are forgiven, yet when hurt or offended it is so difficult. I find it difficult, not so much when i am offended, but hurt someone i love…I think the capacity to forgive lies in our spirits, not in our souls. Sometimes it is difficult to draw on those capacities

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    • Robin Lawrimore

      I like it too, and it applies to my Southern Baptist background that has been works based instead of grace based. It makes sense to me as well that our spirits having been renewed by God are always choosing forgiveness. We make the decision with the mind, will, and emotions – choosing to forgive, releasing the offender from condemning judgment, and emptying our emotions to God about how we feel about it. I think for some the problem comes with that last part – we think we should not be angry or hurt or whatever after the choice, but we find we are and then don’t know what to do with it. Our emotions are part of our relationship with God and therefore to be given to Him and not stuffed inside.

      For some of my most difficult situations, I have had to continue to speak out my choice to forgive. Also from Arthur’s book with Sylvia Gunter, Blessing the Human Spirit, I have gained more understanding of the need for a spirit strengthened in truth – one able to make decisions and choices and pull on capacities without the soul taking over. Please share more if you want. I’d love to hear it.

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      • Wendy Maree

        Yes i yearn for that – a spirit strengthened by truth, a spirit large enough to silence the soul.If I think back on the occasions of deep hurt in my life, and the time it took to reach a place of forgiveness, I wished then that I had heard about spirit-ministry. I really wanted to forgive but the voice of my soul was vying constantly with my spirit. I think what gets confusingand frustrating is that you want so much to obey God and at the same time you wish God would do the other person harm, to pay them back and then you feel guilty for feeling that way.I’ve come to realise i battled when the wound was to my worth, either as a friend or family member, but God in His time does heal and affirms you. Maybe when it comes to forgiving ourselves, we first should make peace with our capacities for wrong,our capacities to hurt others, to be capable of violent thoughts, and to know in spite of this we are loved and forgiven by our great God. Of one thing we can be assured – God never gives up on us.

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  4. Rosa

    I can so relate to this post. I would always say,”I KNOW that God forgives me, but I’M still the one that made the rotton choice. Doing penance is never ending,if we don’t forgive ourselves.

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  5. garmin 1490t

    Hiya, I was reading one more issue about this on another blog. Interesting. Your perspective on it is diametrically contradicted from what I read earlier. I’m still pondering in the opposite elements of view, but I’m leaning to a very good extent toward yours. And irrespective, which is what is so perfect about modern day democracy and also the market of ideas online.

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    • Robin Lawrimore

      Hi ya back, Garmin – Glad you’re seeking out what is true. Remember, when it comes to truth, that truth is truth. Democracy and ideas take a back seat, although I think I know what you mean.

      My hope is to glean from the Bible with a clear perspective, trusting God to show me what He has for me “today” and what is timeless. The need to forgive ourselves like we would anyone else is vital for moving forward. And if I have held anything against God, then I need to come to the truth of that as well so it can be released and not come between me and Him. That’s not to indicate that God has “wronged me” in any way, but to guard and keep my relationship with Him.

      If you want to share further, feel free. Sometimes it helps to write it out.

      Blessings of peace,
      Robin

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