This topic of forgiveness has been on my heart for the longest time! Its not just oh someone wronged us I have to forgive type of forgiveness. I’m talking about all the different facets of forgiveness. Forgiveness of ourselves. Forgiveness of others. God forgiving us. Its easier said than done but it’s literally one of the requirements of being a good christian. I’ve been dealing with guilt (which will be a topic in the near future) and I am honestly struggling to forgive myself. I can’t change the past. I can only move forward. I’m going to break down each of those three areas below and be prepared, it’s a doozy.
The first and most important forgiveness to seek is God’s forgiveness. Jehovah is such a loving and merciful God. He shows us underserved kindness and we should be grateful for it. This was a topic recently and I’m going to share you some takeaways from where I heard it. Jehovah shows us mercy by forgiving us when we make mistakes. Mercy involves an intense feeling that springs from inside a person when he or she sees someone in distress and is moved to try to help the person. God has that intense desire to help us. Now don’t get it twisted, it doesn’t mean we can do whatever and want and he has to forgive us. Don’t be mistaken. When you intentionally sin, he’s not going to be happy about it. He may even allow you to suffer the consequences of your actions, as long as you learn from it. When we mistakenly sin or if we feel truly retentive (remember, he can read hearts and intentions) then he’ll extend his mercy and compassion to us. When he sees us hurting, his mercy moves him to help us. We want to make sure to imitate him as the supreme example of tender affection. For more on this, you can see some of the many articles here.
Another way we can explore forgiveness or act on forgiveness is forgiveness of others.As I’ve mentioned, we want to imitate God and forgive others when they have wronged us. That means we shouldn’t hold grudges against them. Easier said than done, right? I know for me, this is something that I struggle with! I can be so hurt that I refuse to see the person, talk to them, or just treat them as if they’re dead to me. I can’t do that. It’s not right and it’s something that I pray to Jehovah about a lot. I pray for him to help me change my heart and to forgive others when they have wronged me. I know for a fact that I’ve offended others in the past and that I have been the person in the wrong and for that I’m sorry and I work everyday to be a better person.
One huge reason why we should strive to forgive others is well…God won’t forgive us if we’re not open to forgive others. There’s a parable in the Bible in which there’s a man who forgives someone who owes him a lot of money but when it’s time for that person to forgive someone who owes him a much smaller amount, the man does not extend that same mercy and kindness as the his master did! He was punished for it too (see Matthew 18: 23-35 in the Bible). How can we show mercy and forgiveness to others? As mentioned, don’t hold grudges when others hurt us. We can also show mercy by supporting others through the hardships they face. Remember to let go and let God. Make sure you’re doing all you can to make things right. Also, if you’re looking for someone to forgive you, remember that they may be hurt and it won’t be easy for them to forgive and forget. You may have to work hard and prove that you’re sorry and want forgiveness. Actions speak louder than words. Forgiveness is more than saying sorry. Besides, you don’t want to regret it one day. I’m not saying invite the person back in your life and act like nothing is wrong but don’t hold grudges. Which is, easier said than done. Pray to God for him to help you have a more forgiving heart.
The final forgiveness we have to overcome is forgiveness of ourselves. We can be so burned down with guilt that it can eat us up alive. It will deplete us of confidence. It will weigh us down and make us feel unworthy of anyone’s love and forgiveness. Again, this is something I had to deal with. I felt baad about not letting my grandpa know how much I loved him before he died. I felt terrible about all the mistakes I’ve made in the past and the people that I’ve hurt. I’ve let God down with a lot if the decisions that I’ve made. I felt so unworthy of his love. One thing that helps me is that God forgives repentant sinners. If you too have felt this way, know that you’re not alone. There are some things we can do to help us forgive ourselves:
- Focus on your emotions. Understand and acknowledge your feelings and emotions. They are valid.
- Acknowledge your mistakes. When you can accept what you have done, it will be easier to move forward.
- Pray about it. Take your issues to God. He’s available 24/7 and he will help you.
- Think of your mistakes as a lesson. Are we perfect? No. Will we make mistakes? Yes. It’s important to learn from in. In the words of Rafiki in The Lion King, “you can either run from it or learn from it”.
- Read your Bible. There are scriptures that will help you with your feelings of guilt such as Psalm 86:5; Proverbs 14:9; and Psalm 32:1-5. Remember the parable of the prodigal son.
- Go to therapy. Your therapist will help you clear out the mental clutter in your head.
Know that whatever mistakes you’ve made, now is the time to make it right. Learn from your mistakes. Forgive others. Let go and let God.