I Am Forgiving

This post is part of a series on self-care from the perspective of self-care in Christ.  How do I care for the person who God says I am?

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Luke 6:36-38

The power of Christ forgives us of our sins.  And that same power lives in me.  Therefore, I have the power to forgive others.

Sometimes forgiving is really easy.  Somebody made a mistake that didn’t cause any real interruption in my life, they said they were sorry, I forgave them, we moved on.  Easy enough!

Sometimes forgiving someone is the last thing you want to do.  I want revenge.  I want them to hurt like I do or worse!  I don’t usually hold a grudge, but when I do I can hold it for years.

I was recently interviewed (for my own podcast) about my own story.  There are lots of parts of my story that involve deep wounds inflicted by others.  Those of you who have been through a messy divorce know what I mean.  The saying, “hell hath no furry like a woman scorned,” penned by William Congreve is pretty accurate!  I stayed mad for a whole lot of years.  Therefore, I stayed wounded.

As I told my story to my dear friend Amanda Cunningham, I realized that I have fully forgiven my ex-husband.  That doesn’t mean I want to be his friend or even want to spend a moment with him.  It simply means that the hurt he caused no longer takes up residence in my heart.  I am free to go about my life, with the lessons learned from that difficult time, without feeling like a victim.  I no longer wish anything but a relationship with Jesus for him.

Unfortunately, while sharing my story, I realized there are people in my past who I have not fully forgiven.  There are things from my past that are still causing me pain because I haven’t fully given the hurt to Jesus to help me forgive.  One of those people happens to be me.

So, self-care for a believer who has the power to forgive looks like forgiving myself, in this case.  How do I go about doing that?  I am a firm believer in getting professional help with mental health.  Seeking spiritual guidance in the act of forgiveness may be just what I need.  I can also consider the ways others have already forgiven me and the ways I no longer dwell on the wrongs that have been committed against me and have some of that same grace towards myself.

When I look back on my life – the mistakes, the second (and third and fourth and…) chances I received, the redemption that has been given to me – I can see just how merciful God is.  And if God, who has never hurt anyone, can forgive me then I really should consider forgiving myself.

What grudges are you still holding against yourself?  Against someone else?  What is that doing to you?  Do you know that you’ve been forgiven and redeemed?  If you don’t know that mercy and grace, then ask God to show it to you.

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