Forgiving Ourselves?

I wonder how easy it is for most people to look at themselves and be happy with what they see.  Many times looking in the mirror I see 2 things, I see a 16-year-old kid, who has no idea what he’s doing.  I am supposed to be the husband and father and responsible for all this but I see myself as a 16-year-old boy who doesn’t have a clue.  The other thing I see is a list of mistakes, choices, words said and actions done that had me traveling down less than glorious paths.

The older I’ve gotten the more I realized while yes, I have done and made some good choices, the last 20 years of my life as an adult has been more about very poor choices.  Looking back I have lived a less than God honoring life. I have a lot of shame and guilt that weighs heavy on me for the choices I have made and know that even as I have professed to be a follower of Jesus, you wouldn’t know it looking at me.

I know that as a Christ-follower I can go to God confess what I did was wrong, ask for forgiveness and he will forgive and forgets them.  He’s God he has that ability.  I wish I had that ability because so much of what I have done in the past stays in my head roaming around.  Each time I make a mistake I am reminded of how repenting from your sins means turning from them and not doing those things any longer and I obviously am not at that spot.

Being someone who has followed Jesus since I was about 7 years old, I guess you’d think I would be much more mature in my walk with him.  In some areas I have come very far, however I would love to tell you it was this way in all areas of my life. Unfortunately selfishness and lack of self-control have seemed to get the better of me time and time again.  You can’t really be a wise man if you don’t live that out in your daily activities.

Over the years people have told me “You need to learn to forgive yourself”.  These were men, who were trying to offer some wise counsel.  I have tried and tried to forgive myself but more times than not I just can’t seem to do this.  It’s incredibly difficult.  Knowing what I know about myself, with years of selfishness makes it hard to forgive myself.  I started thinking about that concept – “forgiving yourself”.  The more I have reflected on it, I almost feel like it’s another one of those nice packaged things we do in America to make us feel better about our sins.  In James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” I know that confessing our sins, admitting them and repenting from them is the right thing to do.  How much of our sins do we really think about and weigh the heaviness of?

Maybe that’s what we don’t want; to be reminded of the weight of our sins and how that plays out in our lives and in the larger scheme of things – the world.  Sin is powerful, the result of sin is why things are not right in the world and why there is pain and suffering.  Perhaps we need to fully comprehend and understand the weight of all of it and not just tell each other to forgive ourselves.  My sin weighs heavy on me and I don’t just forgive myself.

What are your thoughts on forgiving yourself?



About Chris Goforth

West Coast Hipster Ninja husband and Papa- allowing Jesus to impact every aspect of my life while raising 6 kids, taking photos, being outdoors & playing Settles of Catan. View all posts by Chris Goforth

5 responses to “Forgiving Ourselves?

  • Brett

    I’m good at mentally assenting to forgiving myself, if that makes sense. I can say, “Self, you’re forgiven.” But living in that is more difficult. I think that it runs parallel with trusting in God’s forgiveness. If we really felt He forgave us and trusted that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him (of course, there I ask–how much do I really love Him, so am I included?), then i think we’d be merciful to ourselves.

    It get’s more difficult for me the older I get just because I feel like there is less time for me to make up for any mistakes I’ve made. That’s screw theology because I can’t control other folks and what happens to them and how they react to things I’ve done or not done in the past. All I can do is pray, make amends where it’s helpful for all involved, and hopefully grow. If I don’t, He’ll discipline me again until I get it. Because He loves me. (and I can also trust that He’ll take care of those other folks, too).

    • Goforth's Journal

      Great point Brett. I really appreciate you sharing your experience and thoughts, it puts it into perspective for me. I certainly don’t want to have to keep getting disciplined for things I should already be wise enough to know.

  • Ben

    This is truth right here, and as “a son” it is so easy to forget we do not need to really forgive ourselves since that task was done already by “The Son,” but rather let go. Wow Donald, you are on point.

  • bill (cycleguy)

    I, too, agree with Donald here. I struggled with this myself. For years it was much easier to forgive myself for things I did in ignorance. But for those things I knew better about, I had a tough time. Then it hit me: God has already paid the penalty for my sin, HE HAD FORGIVEN ME, why in the world am I trying to bring this up again and again? Forgiveness is complete. Because of your view of your earthly father (I read the next one first) it may take awhile for it to sink in but I pray you will someday realize the immensity of God’s love and completeness of His forgiveness.

    • Goforth's Journal

      Yes, Donald is right and I had never heard it explained that way before. I don’t need to bring this stuff up because it’s in the past. My earthly father left some very deep wounds and I keep pushing and praying for God to heal those places with his love and truth. I wished some of it had happened years ago, but this is where I am at and I push forward knowing God has forgiven me and sent his son to pay the price.
      Thanks for your encouragement and prayers. Greatly appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: