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How can I forgive myself?

How can I forgive myself?

Hi, thanks for an important question.

You don’t write anything about what the question is about, so we will answer in broader terms than what you ask.

Living in forgiveness is important for our own mental health. If we carry a burden of bitterness and/or guilt, we can get sick. To forgive means to renounce our demand for punishment. It means to stop accusing someone for what happened, stop hating and stop being bitter. We do not do this because the other person deserves it, but to set ourselves free from the negative consequences of bitterness and hatred, and in order to restore relationships. Hebrews 12:15 says, ‘See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.’

We need forgiveness in four relationships: forgiveness from God, forgiveness from people, forgiveness to others and forgiving ourselves. In order to talk about forgiveness, we have to acknowledge that someone has been wronged and someone is to blame.

Forgiveness gives us the opportunity to get rid of accusations, bitterness and guilt and shame. As Christians we can forgive others because we believe in a righteous God who will restore things, and we can go to Jesus with our own guilt and shame because He removed it on the cross. The precondition for forgiving ourselves is to acknowledge the mistakes we have made, and ask God to forgive us. If our mistakes involve other people, then we need to talk to them, acknowledge what we have done, and ask for forgiveness. Then we will be ready to forgive ourselves.

However, it can often be hard to forgive ourselves; our actions might have been serious, stupid and irresponsible, but we still can’t undo those actions, and we need to acknowledge them, take responsibility for them, put them behind us and reconcile ourselves to the fact that we have made a mistake. If we bear self-reproach and punish ourselves, we will lose our energy and we can even end up sick. The mistake will not disappear, either for us or for the person we did it to, but it can be there as an experience to learn from. Forgiving ourselves is to give ourselves a new chance to do things better, and not being hindered from moving on.

We have to admit that as people we make mistakes; we have to practise putting up with our own mistakes and being just as generous towards ourselves as we are towards others. At the same time as we strive not to repeat the same mistake. We have to be generous and forgiving towards ourselves and others so we can stand up and move on in life.

Feelings of guilt which come after we have settled the matter and asked for forgiveness, are false feelings of guilt. At this point it is important to understand that it’s not God reminding our conscience of the mistake, but our own mind holding onto it. God’s forgiveness is perfect, and He can turn the evil into something good (see Romans 8:28). He wants us to learn from what happened, so that we become wiser and have more understanding for others who make mistakes.

False feelings of guilt, shame and accusations against ourselves have no positive purpose. When we try to punish ourselves – either consciously or sub-consciously – we are not taking seriously the fact that Jesus took all our guilt and the punishment. If we have reconciled ourselves to God and the person involved, then the case is closed!

Nevertheless, in practice this is often hard to live by, so we often need others to help us, for example counsellors or Christian leaders.

You can read the following Bible verses:

‘If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:6–9).

‘My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 John 2:1–2).

‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1).

‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you’ (Ephesians 4:32).

‘Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ (Colossians 3:13b)

‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more’ (Hebrews 8:12).

‘And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven’ (James 5:15).

Romans chapters 5 & 6.

Best wishes, boyandgirl.info

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