Forgiveness in Christian circles finds itself based, mostly, in the forgiveness of others; we often forget that God has forgiven us, and therefore we ought to forgive ourselves. Indeed, forgiving ourselves might be a forgotten art—the grace of God given freely, yet somehow not retrieved.
So far as self-forgiveness—in other terms, self-acceptance, in spite of what we’ve done or not done—is concerned, there are some essential factors that bear consideration.
1. The Fact of Other People’s Memories
Besides the bullies in our midst, we overestimate the power and range of other people’s memories. They are not usually as good as we ascribe them to be, besides, again, those indifferent and vexatious influences in our lives.
Most people have long forgotten the mistakes and failures that cling dearly to us—the self-condemnation still burdening away, clawing at our insides, disparaging our present day, limiting our potential... our potential for God.
We can well imagine the will of God is for us to accept that such damaging memories are malignant and cancerous; the fact is the Lord has forgiven us!
2. The Fact of God’s Forgiveness
Do we take God at his word?
It is naturally a rhetorical question—of course, we must accept that, due our repentance, we have been forgiven, perhaps a long, long time ago; the instant we repented in remorse.
For some reason the experience of forgiveness has been lost on us, partially or fully, or perhaps we know we’ve been forgiven at a level, but we still condemn ourselves for the act or inaction that caused such remorseful and embarrassing feelings.
We need to know the fact of God’s forgiveness, afresh.
This is the feeling of spiritual freedom. When we have a calmly, bubbling finish to our present day outlook, smiling effervescently into mirrors, looking people in the eye, able to laugh at life, and equally able to accept many dimensions of truth, we are experiencing this spiritual freedom.
3. The Fact of Our Personal Forgiveness
God’s forgiveness can be rationalised at many levels. We read it in the Bible, our pastors preach about it each week, we talk about it, and we sense it’s true.
But theoretical knowledge of the Lord’s forgiveness means little if we can’t feel it within us. We always know there are issues when we struggle for authenticity; self-consciousness gets the better of us because we are preoccupied by internal issues that have never been reconciled to our personal satisfaction.
The fact of our personal forgiveness is to so many a learned thing; gradually accepted more and more as we recognise the fact that grace covers any and all our mistakes.
Forgiveness is never more important than the personal experience of it—having forgiven ourselves. This is the power to feel the grace of God, which is a gift. God has forgiven us, so what are we waiting for?
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.