Sep 172013 10 Responses

How Do I Forgive Myself?

We all make mistakes. Some are small; some are big; but we all make them.

And when we make them we stand in need of forgiveness. We need the forgiveness of those we offended or let down, but we also need to forgive ourselves.

While this is necessary, many people struggle to do so.

On a regular basis I am asked, “How do I forgive myself.”

The answer is simple—you don’t.

You don’t, because you can’t.

Forgiveness is not something we can give to ourselves; it is something which can only be received. It is a gift which is given. But we don’t want to receive forgiveness, we want to accomplish forgiveness.

This desire is born from the longing to control and accomplish.

When we’ve wronged someone, we want to do something to erase the mistake. We want to earn forgiveness in order to say we have made everything right.

Yet where true forgiveness is needed, we cannot do anything to completely erase the fault. Where true forgiveness is needed we must be able to admit that after everything is done, we still stand in need. Forgiveness has to be given and received; it cannot be accomplished or achieved.

The biggest barrier standing between someone and receiving forgiveness is pride.

An inability to forgive ourselves is an evidence of pride.

It doesn’t feel like pride. It feels like humility. It feels like a desire to make things right.

Yet it is pride.

It is pride which is based on a deception that we have the ability to be perfect. We believe we do not need to receive forgiveness because we have the ability to either never make a mistake or if we do make a mistake, we have the ability to make things right.

This is the height of human arrogance and ignorance.

To the extent that we realize our human frailty and imperfection we will have the ability to give and receive forgiveness.

This is the hidden secret of our inability to receive forgiveness—those who struggle to receive forgiveness often struggle to give forgiveness.

It’s not always the case, but often we are slow to give to others what we struggle to receive for ourselves. We want others to earn it or deserve it. We want them to make everything right even though they do not have the ability to do so.

We live in a world where we are slow to receive forgiveness and slow to give forgiveness.

Doesn’t this explain so much?

Doesn’t this explain:

  • a high divorce rate
  • a low percentage of people with meaningful relationships
  • a divided workplace
  • a contentious church culture
  • half the posts on Facebook

Unable to give or receive forgiveness, we harbor anger, resentment, bitterness, and every other negative emotion.

The beginning of the end of these emotions is the ability to receive forgiveness—to receive, not accomplish, but receive that which we do not deserve.

Many people go through life never being able to forgive themselves because they believe forgiveness is something which is achieved. Life changes when they understand forgiveness is something received.

When they receive forgiveness, they are more likely to give it. When a person, family, community, or culture gives and receives forgiveness freely, everything changes.

10 Responses to How Do I Forgive Myself?
  1. […] How Do I Forgive Myself […]... kevinathompson.com/im-sorry
  2. […] Imagine if your greatest shame was revealed. Your neighbors, friends, and co-workers learned somethi... kevinathompson.com/sometimes-you-are-your-past

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