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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Applying the Art of Self-Forgiveness


FORGIVENESS is a thing most people struggle in applying, whether it is about forgiving others or themselves. Many people don’t understand, for that matter, the forgiveness of God – that God would send his only Son to the cross in order that each of us would be forgiven.
But what is a hard thing to apply is not really a hard thing to understand. We understand, at least in theory, the need to reconcile – so life can move on. It’s no good to anyone to remain buried in resentment.
So if we understand our need to forgive ourselves our moral failures, we are motivated to try and apply it. Indeed, we have already tried to apply it, because without it we became anxious and depressed. If we don’t resolve this matter of unforgiveness toward ourselves we may sink even deeper into mental ill health. Perhaps we are already there.
Understanding the need to forgive ourselves is about understanding we need to be free of the guilt or shame if our future is to have any hope at all.
Anger is certainly a sign of the urgency of self-forgiveness. Whether we explode or implode is a moot point; neither of these is healthy.
We need to admit the wrong, accept responsibility for it, apologize to ourselves, and then move on.
We need to make peace with ourselves if we are to be of real use in our lives and in our relationships. Too many times our experiences of life are ruined by that simmering guilt and burgeoning shame that causes us to be anxious and makes us irritable within the context of our relationships with those who mean the most to us.
Applying the art of self-forgiveness is about being diligent in executing a decent level of self-respect. It’s about recognizing the role of a low self-esteem. If others are worth forgiving, surely we also are worth it.
At some point we must receive the grace of God that is freely available to every one of us. God never holds back his forgiveness; we are the ones that complicate it. The truth is God has already forgiven us, so why, when we are duly repentant, aren’t we also self-forgiven?
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If God has forgiven us, through Jesus Christ, and we have access to this forgiveness, through repentance, we ought also to forgive ourselves.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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