Saturday, October 13, 2007

Obstacles to Forgiving Ourselves

Every single human being on planet earth has a sin problem. We lose our tempers and snap at someone, we make painful mistakes (that don't always hurt just us) and we do things that seem so completely out of character that friends and relatives are shocked. Sin is universal in scope, affecting every single person. There are no exceptions. But God has provided forgiveness for everyone who will accept it. And yet, many of us find it impossible to forgive ourselves. Why are we so hard on ourselves?

First, we struggle with self-forgiveness at times because we find it difficult to believe God can, will, and does forgive us. Guilt can be incredibly strong, so strong in fact that it appears to overshadow the enormous, free gift of pardon and release God offers us. We find it difficult to take in the simple fact of restoration God has provided (2Cor 5:18-19). God promises to forgive us and restore us into a righteous and robust relationship with Himself, but we ignore that and think to ourselves that what we've done is simply too horrible to gain God's forgiveness and acceptance. We doubt God could even forgive us for what we've done. That is a common, yet none the less tragic error on our part. Not only is God willing to forgive us (no matter what we've done) He's actually eager to do so. He longs for a special relationship with us. He is quick to forgive.

Second, personal disappointments can prevent us from forgiving ourselves. We often have ridiculously high, self-imposed standards of our behavior and achievements. When we fail to live up to them (and we always fail eventually one way or the other) we are crippled by the residual disappointment in ourselves, which often makes personal self-forgiveness seem impossible.

Third, seeing the results of our sin can block self-forgiveness. What I mean is that if our wrong actions produce a tangible negative consequence (like a child born out of wedlock) we may become so blinded by the result that we are unable to forgive ourselves. Seeing the outcome of our sin every day keeps guilt alive in our minds, and we simply refuse to let it go.

Fourth, there is a small number of people who refuse to forgive themselves because it makes them feel "good." To most of us, the feeling we get from guilt is anything but pleasant, but it's not that way for some. Beating ourselves up so people will feel sorry for us can become just another method of seeking the time and attention of others. If this is truth for any of us, we need to immediately come before God and confess this attitude and willingly accept His forgiveness.

We mustn't try to undo what God has already done. If He has already forgiven us (and we can know He has by 1John 1:9) we mustn't harbor guilt and remorse over a sin in our past. Christ gave His life to set us free, so we mustn't willingly stay in chains because we're unwilling to forgive ourselves for which things and actions God has already given pardon (Gal 5:1). If any of us are in such a situation, we mustn't hurt God's feelings any longer. We must accept His forgiveness and in turn, forgive ourselves.

A smelly skunk came through the neighborhood about 5:00 AM and we couldn't sleep because of the stench (the barking dog didn't help much either) so we just decided to get up and do things. (This will give me a good excuse go back to bed and take a nap later on today.) I didn't have anything else to do so I just thought I'd type a Saturday blog. I thought this was my last blog on forgiveness and I thought I'd be able to start on faith issues Monday morning if I went ahead and typed the blog today but I see there is at least one more blog to type on forgiveness. So it looks like it will be Tuesday before I can get back to faith devotionals.

It's chilly this morning and my feet are getting cold. I think I'll go find some house slippers and see if I can warm them up a smidgen. There, that's better. We had a heavy overcast all day yesterday but no measurable rainfall and I didn't catch the forecast last night so I don't know if it's going to be clear today or not and it's still dark outside right now. Well, no, I take that back, I can see Hogback mountain against the lightening sky and it looks like there's a little fog between us and the hill. Can't tell much more than that, though. It's just beginning to turn light outside. The weather will be a major factor in deciding whether or not I wash my car today. It needs to be washed but I'm not going to go to all that work if we're just in for more rain.

I have a wedding to go to this afternoon. I don't really know the couple very well. We attend the same church and I assisted on her baptism a month or so ago. They're a really cute couple though. They each have children from previous marriages and I'm hoping the very best for them as a family. I haven't been to a wedding in probably 20 years. I thought it would be fun to go to another one. And it looks like my hair is going to look just fine. I'm not going to have to wash and blow-style it before I have to leave. I love my hair this short!!! Here I've slept on it for two nights already and it still looks as good as it did when I walked out of the salon on Thursday afternoon. You know, I can't help feeling sorry for men. Sitting here thinking about how much I dislike having to do my hair more than once or twice a week and I think of men having to shave every morning. That would undoubtedly do me in if I had to do that to my face every single morning. They have my sympathies!

Okay, I'm going to let this be it for a Saturday blog. I hope my readers are in the habit of checking for the latest blog. (I'd hate to have spent all this time writing and then typing them if no one thinks to check for the latest one. Oh well, each day can stand on it's own. Even when I'm doing a series, they each can stand by themselves.) Take care and see you Monday...

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