In the church today, pastors preach about the power of forgiveness and why we should forgive others. This is a good thing-however-what if the person you need to forgive the most is you? Then what?
Let me ask you a question. Who do you see when you look into the mirror? Before you answer me though, I want you to grab an object that’s closest to you. Maybe it’s your cell phone, wallet, or water bottle. Place it in front of your face and now try to look in the mirror. What do you see? Instead of seeing your face all you can see is this thing - this object.
That’s kind of how we see ourselves when our vision is clouded. When all we can see is our problems? When we struggle to forgive ourselves, what we’re actually doing is placing our pride (or self pity) before God and saying, “I can’t be forgiven.”
In my new book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me I explain.
“The problem isn’t with God or the person who hurt you. It’s you! Ask God to expose each and every painful lie you’ve believed so you can confess your sins and be forgiven. God is love. He wants to set you free. He wants to help you control the only thing (well, person, really) who can change your circumstances—yourself. Don’t expect it to be an easy process. Exposing lies is painful and our heart can’t always be trusted…No matter how painful or how ugly you feel for being exposed, or mad you are at God for allowing your heart to break, know that there is healing” (27-28).
You might feel hidden behind your pain, and scared to expose each and every lie you’re believing-but I’m here to tell you it is possible to forgive yourself.
If you remember only two things from this article let it be these:
+ God disciples those He loves (let go of the lies).
+ God sharpens or prunes the parts of us that could be better (lies hinder growth)
I want to share with you a special prayer. One I wrote over a decade ago when I was struggling to forgive myself for choices I’d made with my health that landed me in the hospital. After I came home, I wrote this and never threw it away because it serves as a reminder of how far I’ve come. This is my prayer for you! Please feel free to pray this out loud or print it out and leave it as a reminder for you someday of how far you’ve come!
“Dear Jesus, I invite you to come move in me. From the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I want you to come and remove all my hurts and all my fears and all my sins. I give them to you. Please forgive me. Please forgive me. Please forgive me. Please forgive me, Lord! I know, Lord, that You allowed me to go through this darkened dungeon so that one day I could come into light and experience new life. Help me walk with you. Keep my feet from slipping. Let my life be beautiful. Teach me how to reach out to others and tell them about You, Jesus. That you died for us. That You save! That You can erase all the wrongs in our life and help us to overcome. Reconcile us, Jesus. I believe. Amen (Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me, 66).
When All Else Fails, Pray!
I don’t know about you, but the hardest part for me was waiting for God to remove the hurt after I asked Him to forgive me. Sometimes God says “no” and for a Christian, that can be one of the toughest lessons to learn.
You know God has the power to heal, so why does He wait (or say no)?
You know you’re forgiven, so shouldn’t you feel set free?
How can a God who loves us unconditionally let us suffer after we’ve cried out to Him? This is when you pray and keep praying! Even Jesus dealt with this very same question.
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment. Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:14-20, NIV).
Let me tell you a story. There was a man who was praying to God one morning and thought he heard God say that he would one day be strong enough to move mountains. In his front yard was a giant boulder and every morning he would go and push on the bolder to try and move it. Every day he’d pray and ask God to confirm this prayer because he obviously wasn’t making any progress with the bolder. Eventually the man got frustrated and gave up. The next morning when he was praying, God showed him the reason why he had him push against the bolder in his yard. God told him to look down at his arms and legs and see the bulging muscles that were not there before. Even though the man did not literally move the bolder in his front yard, he realized God was strengthening his spiritual muscles and move him into a deeper realm of faith. It is the same with us! Sometimes God uses trials in our life, sometimes in our own front yard to show us the kind of faith we are to have - even the impossible kind.
Next time you feel tempted to give up, give forgiveness another try. Ask God to help you with your unbelief. Ask God to help you move the mountains in your own life and forgive yourself for any choices or lies you’ve made or believed about yourself.
When all else fails, pray, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Renee Fisher, the Devotional Diva®, is the spirited speaker and author of Faithbook of Jesus, Not Another Dating Book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me, and Loves Me Not. A graduate of Biola University, Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24) using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. She and her husband, Marc, live in California with their dog, Rock Star. Learn more about Renee at www.devotionaldiva.com.
Publication date: September 17, 2013