We’re all familiar with the shame and guilt of messing things up, looking back with much regret on the harm and disappointment our actions have caused. And while initially we might blame others, once we’ve accepted responsibility we might then struggle with forgiving ourselves.
A mystery of the human soul is that is often easier to forgive others than to forgive ourselves.
Perhaps it’s easier to give others the benefit of the doubt when we don’t know all the workings of their inner world. But we know our every incriminating thought and feeling and this makes it harder to overlook.
But the practice of forgiveness includes forgiving ourselves.
To forgive doesn’t excuse our behaviors. Nor does it let us off the hook from the natural consequences of our choices.
But it does free us from the guilt and shame of our past mistakes. However justified it feels, the burden of self-condemnation robs us of life and love. And this condemnation is not of God.
There is a healthy level of guilt that lets us know we’ve done something wrong. And it remains healthy as long as it motivates us to acknowledge our wrongdoings and correct our behaviors.
But it becomes unhealthy when we simply ruminate on and relive our past sins.
So, by all means, let us feel bad when we fall short of who God has called us to be. This is a good thing and shows us that our heart is still sensitive to the ways of God in our life.
But let us not fall victim to perpetually condemning ourselves when God has given us the grace of forgiveness.
Acknowledge your wrong. Make it right. And live in freedom.
Forgiving ourselves allows us to move forward in joy, peace, and hope throughout our life and relationships.