“…It’s four in the morning, I’m lying in bed
A tape of my failures playing inside my head
It’s heartaches and hard knocks and things I don’t know
I listen and I wonder where will it go”
– Garth Brooks, “When There’s No One Around”
Like the song says, even when we’re in the midst of an “everything’s okay” season of our lives, there are still moments when we’re struck with the memories heartaches, hard knocks and mistakes we’ve made. People we may have hurt. Dumb decisions of our past.
So, what the secret to forgiving ourselves?
According to my dad, we may never be able to completely put these tough memories behind us. They happened. They actually contributed to forming who we are today.
But if we hold on too tightly to these memories and dwell on our missteps of the past, they become like a cancer and destroy us from the inside out.
We need to forgive ourselves. We need to say, “I forgive you” out loud, to ourselves. Include it in your prayer life. Because, as my dad says – it works.
And it doesn’t work.
You see, we need to know that when we repent, God has forgiven us for what we have done. It’s just that simple. You repent and it’s done.
But learning to forgive yourself is a life-long process.
And as we work toward our own forgiveness, we need to ask ourselves, “What do I do now?” and move forward.
Now, even my dad admits that there are regrets that he still tends to hold onto today. Why can’t he let it go? He’s learned how to let go and forgive himself for so many other things, why not this one?
Usually, it’s not until he looks at himself and realizes that God has forgiven Him. It’s in the past. Completely erased away. And that’s what God wants him to do as well. This way, my dad can do the next thing that God has planned for him without the hindrance of his own unforgiveness.
Sometimes we don’t realize the unintended consequences of our decisions until much, much later in life.
The key is to 1) recognize God’s forgiveness; 2) recognize the opportunities that God has given us to forgive ourselves; and 3) recognize the opportunities He gives us to help other people with their similar struggles.
When we spend more and more time thinking of others and helping other people, it’s liberating. It simply allows less and less time to beat up on ourselves and dwell on the things that should have already been let go of, erased and forgiven.
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