We’re supposed to forgive. Yeah, yeah. I get that. I don’t always like it, but I get it.
So recently I was sitting in a typical Sunday morning church service when my pastor said he was going to ask us to do the hardest thing we’d ever done. We’d not be able to do it on our own accord, but we’d need the power, strength, and love of God to make it happen.
I immediately thought, surely he isn’t going to ask me to hold a piping hot, freshly baked batch of gooey chocolate chip cookies but not even eat a single morsel, right? For the love of all things human, he’d never! And, he didn’t. Whew!
What he did ask us to do is answer this exact question: “Who is that one person who has lived her life so selfishly that she has hurt you and those closest to you?”
Ha! That’s easy, I thought. How much time do we have?
As my mind ran through the list of those who have betrayed me, hurt me, neglected me, or just been plain mean to me, I momentarily felt overwhelmed. Truth be told, I have worked hard in the last decade of my life to give these trespasses over to the Lord. I really have. I have been released from the bondage of unforgiveness that can create bitterness and resentment which can then spoil the beauty of all things glorious in our lives.
But as I sat and as time marched on, it was like a painful whac-a-mole struck me right on the head. You see, despite my progress through years of counseling and walking with the Lord, I suddenly realized I’d neglected to forgive ALL of those people to whom the pastor was referring.
I think if we are honest with ourselves, we all have a host of people we can look to who have hurt us, lied to us, or betrayed us in some form or fashion. We’ve all probably readily forgiven some and yet struggled even considering forgiving others. The battle is real, y’all.
As an uneasiness in me began to stir, I became painfully aware of ONE other person I had not yet forgiven. I acknowledged in that moment my own self-attacks over the last 30 years of my life.
I should have been the one human I could count on to take care of me. I should have nurtured me and loved me when it seemed others didn’t or wouldn’t. And I had failed miserably at this.
By outside standards most would say I have had a successful life, and until the last two years a dream-life even. One problem. I have beaten myself up time and time again. I have held my shortcomings over my head.
I have NOT. FORGIVEN. MYSELF.
I now feel a genuine love for myself that I didn’t know prior to loving Jesus. I have a security in who I am that I’d never experienced before Him. My self-worth and self-respect grow more every single day. But I have been mistaking these things for forgiveness.
I haven’t let go of the fact that I’ve lost about 300 pounds in my life. (I know, right? 30 pounds ten times over adds up!)
I haven’t been able to stop beating myself up for all (and there’s A LOT) the knowingly stupid decisions I’ve made at the table. While I do know I have forgiven myself for many, many mistakes,
I only am now seeing that forgiving MYSELF in regards to my eating and my weight are critical to the path of completeness in Christ.
Forgiveness. Is. Hard.
Especially when it doesn’t “feel” right. But we are called to forgiveness anyway. When we forgive out of obedience to God, out of our love for Him rather than our feelings, we have His strength to carry us through.
I know when I worked to forgive those who had obvious transgressions against me, I definitely did not WANT to forgive. Are you kidding, God? Do you know what she did to me? To me the thought of forgiving somehow meant accepting, and that felt like an even worse betrayal.
But then the Holy Spirit gently gave me the unforgettable picture of Jesus washing Judas’ feet the night before Judas betrayed him. One of Jesus’ closest sold him out. And more unfathomable to me, Jesus knew it was coming. He KNEW and so guess what he did; Jesus served Judas. He lowered himself to the filthy ground and kindly, lovingly took care of a man who wouldn’t return the favor.
And here’s where it all came together for me as I had a long conversation with Jesus about forgiving others, myself, and the way I have treated the beautiful gift of a body that God so graciously gave me.
I know when I’ve dishonored my body with poor habits, and I know when I’ve dishonored God by withholding forgiveness of others. But it is these MISTAKES that I had somehow decided made parts of ME A MISTAKE—and hear me when I say, no part of us is a mistake to our heavenly creator. Not one part. He doesn’t do mistakes. He is perfection. WE ARE NOT.
True freedom can never come if I am constantly reliving my mistakes and carrying bitterness in my heart towards myself. True freedom and joy can only come when I offer others and MYSELF the forgiveness, the love, the kindness Jesus offered those who had betrayed him.
In a way, I had never acknowledged how I have betrayed myself with not only poor choices, but with perpetual unforgiveness and comparison. Comparison to others who made better choices and even comparison to myself at times when I did, indeed, make some better decisions. I suddenly realized the one I need to be comparing myself to is Christ. He is the ultimate standard.
So, guess what I did. I asked me to forgive myself. I asked God to forgive me of my sin of unforgiveness. I reminded myself that I am not perfect and that my mistakes are just that, mistakes. They do not define me just as my accomplishments don’t define me. I am defined by the covering of Jesus Christ.
I hope you will do what I did in asking for forgiveness for myself. My prayer is for you to experience the freedom that only comes from the power of Jesus.
We are the daughters of the ONE TRUE KING and we are loved, cherished, and chosen. Even when we eat the entire box of donuts—alone.
I would love to hear from you! Leave you thoughts in the comments.