Forgiveness is hard. I genuinely believe that God forgives me for my sins. I believe Jesus died for me on the cross. I know that I am forgiven. But, how can I forgive myself?
I wrote about this briefly on Instagram earlier today, but I want to share more.
It all began with a quote. I first heard the quote at BSF last Monday night during the lecture: “We can’t see that the cross is something done for us until we realize that the cross is something done by us.”
It was powerful, but it did not personally convict me–and thankfully, I recognized a red flag.
Was I in denial? In a sense, yes. Not because I feel myself worthy and not needing Jesus. I feel unworthy most of the time, I am my own worst critic–you do not want to hear the self-talk I sometimes allow–I know how badly I need Jesus and I have personally felt rescued by Him. So, why was I in denial? Because I did not want to face the pain that haunts me from wrong choices I’ve made in my past. I am a master at Scarlet O’Hara’s method of not thinking about that today and saving it for tomorrow–over and over and over again.
This morning, I was completing the Starting Point homework for my Women’s group at Preston Trail, when I encountered the quote AGAIN. Talk about God trying to hit me with a message. But that didn’t take me down. It was the reflection question on the next page: “What do you wish you could do over?” It came to me instantly…
I have enormous guilt of holding my son to impossible, not age-appropriate standards while my husband was deployed the last time. My son was 6, my daughter was 3, I had to be the single, working mom. & I made many mistakes. One incident in particular has haunted me forever. One day, when we were running late, he refused to get out of the car when I dropped him off at school, and I completely flipped out on him. I don’t even remember what all I said, but it was bad. I drove out of the carpool lane and pulled onto a side street to calm us both down. Within seconds of my tirade, the enormous weight hit me like a ton of bricks. The situation was resolved–thank goodness he seems unscathed now at almost 11–but I have carried that situation with me since then. I have asked for forgiveness from God for that moment over and over again, not recognizing the fact that the first time I asked, I was instantly forgiven. For almost 5 years, I have awakened in the night at least once a month crying and praying that I have not ruined my child’s life, begging God for forgiveness, not feeling forgiven, mostly because of that one situation, that one day.
Then today, that moment came back and I bawled like a baby at my Bible desk. I cried, I wrote, I reflected, I again asked God for forgiveness, did the rest of the homework, and on the last page, I saw this quote by C. S. Lewis: “I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”
The light bulb went off. I immediately asked God to make me forgive myself. Instantly, I felt a sense of peace wash over me that was debilitating in the best possible sense. I was moved to more tears, this time in relief. I am tearing up now remembering and still feeling the peace of God which does in fact transcend all understanding. God is so good. All the time.
So, now I know the secret to forgiving myself. I have to face the pain, admit fault, ask God for forgiveness and ask Him to make me forgive myself.
Don’t get me wrong, that is NOT the only mistake I have made as a parent. Not by a long shot. But this is the one that has haunted me that I no longer will carry around. Glory to God!