Healing Through Forgiveness (Part 4)

What is Forgiveness

Read Part 3

What about forgiving yourself?

Self-forgiveness is necessary but can often be an extremely difficult action. Sometimes forgiving yourself can be more difficult than forgiving someone else for their offense. Maybe you can forgive someone else for a heinous act against you, but cannot seem to forgive yourself for a less severe infraction.  Forgiving yourself is just as important as forgiving others.

What can happen if we don’t forgive ourselves?

The same emotional and physical turmoil that can occur from not forgiving others can occur if we do not forgive ourselves. Depression, anger, resentment, shame, guilt, just to mention a few emotional scars, can develop from unforgiveness of self.

Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” We wrestle with the spirit of depression, anger, resentment, shame, guilt. If we begin to self-loath and become consumed in our own mistakes, then how are we able to fully operate in the gift or plan that God has assigned to us?

When God forgives us, it states that He remembers our sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34). This does not mean that our all-knowing Father forgets, but rather, He chooses not to bring up our sin in a negative way. Forgiving yourself is not about forgetting, it’s about not bringing the offense up to yourself in negative ways. Forgiving yourself is letting go of what you are holding against yourself so that you can move on with God. If God has moved on, shouldn’t we do the same? Philippians 4:9 states that we are to put into practice those things that we have learned from God and from His Word. To continue to rehearse in our thoughts the events of our transgression, opposes Philippians 4:8 which tells us to dwell on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.

So how do you forgive yourself?

Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” The energy it takes to harbor anger, hatred, and resentment towards yourself may seem right but is exhaustive. Every bit of energy we give to negative activities and dwelling on regrets, robs us of the energy we need to become the person God wants us to be.

Life is full of choices and every choice we make will either take us in a positive, life-giving direction or rob us of the opportunity to be a life-giving individual. Forgiving ourselves does not let us off the hook, it does not justify what we have done, and it is not a sign of weakness. Forgiveness is a choice that takes courage and strength, and it gives us the opportunity to become an overcomer rather than remaining a victim of our own scorn.

If you do not forgive yourself of past sins, it can be a form of pride. Whenever we enact a different set of rules, a higher set of standards for ourself over others, that is pride. When we can find it within ourself to forgive others, but not ourselves, we are saying that we are less capable of making a poor decision than others. We are somehow more intuitive, wiser, more insightful, more careful than others, and therefore, we are without excuse and should not forgive ourselves. When we reject the forgiveness extended to us by God and others, when we refuse to forgive ourselves, we are setting ourselves above others and that is pride! Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Unforgiveness of oneself will bring self-destruction, a haughty spirit, and a fall. Forgiveness will bring peace. Choose to walk in peace. Choose to forgive yourself!

Submitted by:

Crystal A. Jackson, Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist