Forgiveness starts with yourself. Can you ever forgive yourself for what you have done? Or, worse yet, can you ever forgive yourself for what has been done to you? The answer in both of these cases is a resounding “Yes”. You have the ability, the possibility and the power to forgive yourself, no matter what the circumstance. But, understanding this reality and living into this reality are two totally different things.
We are all very good at extending forgiveness to others. Basically, us humans are a very forgiving lot. We can accept that forgiveness has been granted to other people, by other people. Watching from the outside, we see forgiveness extended and we accept that forgiveness has been granted. We even find that we are able to extend forgiveness in our very own lives, to those who have done us harm. Yet, when we turn around and gaze at ourselves, in the mirror of life, forgiveness is the last thing that we grant to our reflections. We struggle to forgive ourselves, even in the shadow of our forgiveness granted to others. Why is that?
The cold, hard truth to why you are unable to forgive yourself is that you, deep down, believe that you are the master of your life. Why else would you find it easy to forgive others while, simultaneously, finding it impossible to forgive yourself? You can forgive others, because you understand that others need forgiveness. You can forgive others because you understand that others are fractured, faulty and sin-stained. You understand that others need forgiveness in order to successfully navigate their lives and their relationships. Yet, you, unlike all the others, are so above it all that you must be the cause of everything negative in your world. Somewhere, somehow, someway, you messed something up, did something wrong, and you are now suffering the consequences for your mistakes. Even if someone hurts you in some way, it was obviously your fault because the others aren’t masters of their lives, like you. Thus, they can’t be held responsible for their own actions. This perspective is what is preventing you from ever truly forgiving yourself for anything.
Now before you get all mad and begin to write me a strongly worded response, keep reading. You are not alone in feeling this way. Us humans all feel this way. The trick is not to cover it up and definitely not to wallow in it; but to overcome it through understanding who is truly the master of your life. You can’t forgive yourself because you are struggling with the sin of pride. Deep down you believe that you are more than everyone else. You have more accountability and more responsibility, because you are the master of your life. Thus, when anything happens in your life, negatively or positively, you must have caused it to happen.
Now, don’t get me wrong, you don’t walk around announcing to everyone that you are the master of your life. You play it very close to the vest. After all, you don’t want to offend anyone. There is nothing worse than someone who overtly looks down on people who are beneath them. Yet, your ability to forgive others combined with your inability to forgive yourself, reveals what you truly believe. There is no reason for you not to forgive yourself, unless you believed that you didn’t deserve forgiveness. The only reason that you would believe that you don’t deserve forgiveness is if you believe that you are the master of everything in your life. No master of everything deserves to be forgiven for anything. Whatever has happened, it is your fault.
So, it isn’t forgiveness or the lack thereof with which you need to handle. It is with pride that you need to wrestle. Once you subdue your pride, your belief that you are the master of your life, forgiving yourself will fall into place. So, how does one subdue the sin of pride? First, accept the true master of your life. Commit your life to the care and control of Jesus. Second, acknowledge that your sin of pride will not go quietly into this good night. Yet, when it does rear its ugly head again, seek God’s guidance and study the Bible to see how Jesus lived his life. Over time, as you remind yourself again and again, that you aren’t the master of your life, forgiving yourself will get easier and easier.