Everyone struggles with forgiveness. For many of us, our struggle comes with forgiving those who have hurt us in the past. But we’ll never be free from the hurt of our past until we release that hurt through forgiveness. But for others, even after you’ve forgiven everyone else, the one person you can’t forgive is yourself. You did something that to you is unforgivable. Your parents don’t know, your spouse doesn’t know, your kids don’t know. But God knows, and the seeming judgment coming from Him can be overwhelming. So when you look in the mirror and despise the person looking back, here are three steps to truly forgiving yourself:
1. Stop asking, start thanking. Most of us continually ask God for forgiveness that we’ve already received. Because of the gravity of what we’ve done, we feel the continual need to ask for forgiveness again and again. The problem becomes that when we continually ask God for forgiveness, we’re assuming that He hasn’t yet truly forgiven us. To embrace the forgiveness that was already won for us through Jesus Christ, stop asking for it and start thanking God for it. That subtle shift from asking to thanking can begin to loosen the chains of condemnation that are weighing down your soul.
2. Stop stewing, start serving. Unforgiveness is ultimately selfish, self-centered and even narcissistic. When you fail to forgive yourself, you keep the focus on yourself because you feel you must do penance or somehow earn forgiveness for your actions. At the center of it all is you. To break this cycle stop stewing about your lot in life and start serving other people. When you begin to serve others in meaningful ways you’ll discover the liberation that comes from taking the focus off of yourself and beginning to focus on other people.
3. Defeat every lie with the truth. The enemy has kept you enslaved with lies for too long and he won’t give up without a fight. That’s why the primary battleground for your freedom is your mind. If you can change the way you think, you can change the way you live. Every time a thought enters your head that tempts you to walk back down the destructive path of unforgiveness, defeat that lie with the truth of Romans 8:1-2, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”