My sister and I are only a year apart, and as you can imagine there was ample opportunity for us to learn the true meaning of forgiveness. I don’t need to tell anyone how hard it can be at times to forgive a wrong done to you. Harder still, you are often called to forgive even when no one seeks it. However, what happens when the person you have to forgive the most is you?
Years ago I was having mommy daughter time with my mom, and she randomly told me how I had made her feel once in the way I had responded to her. I did not even remember doing so, but as I looked into her eyes I was confronted by how much my actions had hurt her. Although I swiftly apologised, I was greatly troubled. What concerned me more was, what if there were other times I had failed to recognise the error in my own ways. I mean, this is the woman who gave birth to me and raised me, I had no wish to ever hurt her.
Then I realised my mother was telling me not to condemn me, but rather she had forgiven me and if she had, why couldn’t I forgive myself? Although there are countless situations, this remains true for a lot of us. We are just as capable of hurting others as we are of being hurt. Being able to forgive yourself and move past mistakes, failures and shortcomings is just as important as what we do for others. If not, you begin to internalize, and the cycle of self-condemnation begins.
Suddenly even the smallest of offences or minor mistakes are magnified, remembered long after the other person has forgotten. Guilt becomes shame and you begin to question who you are. You see, guilt is ‘I feel bad for what I have done’, however shame is ‘I feel bad for who I am’. Guilt is the healthy response while the shame is not.
So I tell you now, acknowledge your mistake, seek forgiveness and forgive yourself. It is then you set yourself free.
“…for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”
1 John 3: 20
What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment.