“Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.”Matthew 18:21
Do you find it difficult to forgive others? What about yourself?
The gospel reading yesterday is one we’ve probably heard many times – how often should I forgive my brother? As the day slipped by me yesterday and today, those words continued to scroll through my head. But instead of my brother or my sister, I found myself asking Jesus about forgiving myself.
If I asked myself how many times I’ve forgiven myself, I’m sure the number is probably very small compared to the number of times I’ve forgiven my brother or sister.
We are our own worst critic.
Why are we so hard on ourself? Why do we find it difficult to forgive ourselves?
A few years ago, I found myself digging very deep into brokenness that I swept in a corner of my heart. What I discovered was there were choices in my marriage that I had not forgiven myself for. Because of that unforgiveness, I was unable to truly find freedom from a marriage that had really severed a piece of who I was. This prevented me from loving myself and being whole.
In Ephesians 4:2-3 (NLT), St Paul reminds us that we are called by God to be humble, gentle and patient with one another, allowing space for each other’s faults because of our love so that we can be united in peace through the Holy Spirit.
I think that also applies to how we treat ourselves. In order to be at peace, to unite with one another and with God, we have to be at peace with ourselves and love ourselves. That love comes from humility, gentleness, patience and self-forgiveness.
For me, forgiving myself burned the rubble I swept in the corner with God’s love, freeing me. It wasn’t like magic and it didn’t happen overnight. I continue to forgive myself, reminding myself I am God’s beloved and He did send His son for me to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). I am not above that in anyway, therefore I too must forgive myself and pour love in, to receive love.
I think the invitation is to embrace yourself with a hug and say I forgive you.
Lord, I find it so hard to forgive myself. Through Your mercy and compassion, help me to forgive myself and love myself as You love me.