Forgiveness is the only thing that can heal us from our hurts and wounds, not only to those who have hurt us, but the wounds that we have inflicted on others. You will never be able to live a happy fulfilled life if you keep beating yourself up over your past mistakes. Some of us have said and done some pretty terrible things. We are all human, and we all make mistakes. Some of us make bigger mistakes than others. Some hurt is life changing, and catastrophic. What comes to mind is people who are in accidents, and kill someone unintentionally. But the bottom line will always be the same: you need to forgive yourself first, as well as forgiving whomever hurt you.
You need to forgive yourself for staying in a situation that you shouldn’t have been in, in the first place. You need to forgive yourself for all the things you wish you had done differently. You need to let go of regret, and forgive yourself for not being perfect. You need to forgive yourself for all your mistakes, because you can’t undo a single one of them.
LET GO OF GUILT
No matter how much you agonize over your past, you cannot change it. You cannot lessen its impact. You cannot wish for a different outcome, because it can never happen. I’m using the word NEVER here people! The past can NEVER be changed, no matter how much you rant, rail, and shake a fist, curse, or cry. That day or event is history. If you are suffering from guilt, you need to accept this fact. Wrap your head around it. You cannot change what you did or said, so there’s no use wasting any more thoughts or energy on it. What you CAN do is decide to make a change in behavior. What you CAN do is ask for forgiveness. Now, the person whom you committed the offence again has the right to refuse to talk to you, or accept your apology. But the point is, if you are truly sorry, and have tried to make amends by asking for forgiveness, that’s all you can do. And then you have to walk away from it, and get rid of it by throwing it away. Imagine being on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. Imagine all your faults and mistakes you made are written on that rock. Now drop that rock over the railing and let it fall into the ocean. It’s going to drop a long, long, long, long way down. Can you reach over the side and pick it back up again? No – of course not! Well, that’s exactly what you need to do. Forgive yourself, and then drop that rock off into the ocean. Let it sink away. It will finally come to rest on the bottom, but it’s far away from you, and it can’t touch you or hurt you. There will always be consequences to your actions, but at least you don’t have to keep hitting yourself with that rock every day, getting bloodied and bruised. Just as that rock doesn’t have any power to lift itself up and out of the water and return to you, so you need to train your brain to realize that your past does not and should not have any power over you either.
GET RID OF BLAME AND SHAME
We also need to get rid of blame. We can take responsibility for our actions, but it should never be at the expense of blaming someone else. “Well, I wouldn’t have done that if he/she hadn’t said that” is a cop out. Own your mistakes. Don’t finger point. Don’t blame. Your actions and reactions are exactly that – YOURS. You have a choice in how to react when someone yells at you. You have a choice in how to react when someone cuts you off in traffic. You have a choice in how you’re going to respond to your child when they have a meltdown temper tantrum in the grocery store. All those choices are yours. No-one can make you angry, it is your choice to get angry. No one can “make you” make a mistake, it’s all you. Own that! What you also need to do is stop blaming yourself for everything that goes wrong. It’s not always your fault. So many people try to take all the blame for all the things that go wrong in the world. I am a classic example of this. I grew up in a household where my parents fought all the time. I always felt it was my fault, and I would always feel like it was up to me to fix it. This then extended to all my relationships. If someone had a bad day and was acting badly, I assumed it was my fault. If my teachers, or friends at school were angry, I thought it was my fault. I would describe myself as a empath. (Empaths are highly sensitive individuals, who have a keen ability to sense what people around them are thinking and feeling. Psychologists may use the term empath to describe a person that experiences a great deal of empathy, often to the point of taking on the pain of others at their own expense.) It wasn’t until I was married to my current hubby, and a few years into our marriage he said to me, “Donna, the world does not revolve around you. You are not the center, you are not the cause of life’s problems. It’s not up to you to worry, or fix other people. Other people can have a bad day and it’s nothing to do with you. Stop thinking that everything revolves around you.” At first, his words really stung. I was offended and hurt (but not for long). The more I thought about his words, I realized he was absolutely correct. People can have a bad day, and you might bump into them and they will take it out on you, but in actual fact, it was NOTHING to do with you. Wow. It changed my life. You can change your life too. Don’t take things personally. Realize the world isn’t revolving around you either. It’s much bigger than that!
YOU WILL NEVER BE PERFECT
I once saw a bumper sticker when I was growing up, and I thought it was awesome. It said, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven”. Truth. It’s true for everyone. No-one can be perfect. Not one single person on earth. We will never have the perfect response, or the perfect answer, or always be polite, or always be considerate. There will be many many times we are selfish, rude, and overbearing. There will be many times that we raise our voice to our children or spouses. There will be many times we will say things we regret, the minute it comes out of our mouth. We will never be able to contain our disappointment when things don’t go our way, or when our kid’s team doesn’t win the soccer tournament, or the Canucks don’t win the Stanley Cup (although they are so overdue). We are imperfect beings, and we’re going to have rough days. We need to allow ourselves to have rough days. We need to allow ourselves to fail. It’s going to happen whether or not we allow it to anyway! No matter how hard we try, we can’t be perfectly happy every single day. There will always be something that comes up that threatens our joy. There will always be someone annoying on the road. There will always be pressure at work. There will always be a shortage of money. Once we realize and accept this, life becomes easier. Give yourself a break! You are doing the best you can, with what you have. If you strive to do better, and self reflect, you will be able to enjoy life, and overcome any hurdles that come your way. You can strive for perfection, but letting yourself know that it’s okay to not be perfect is what you need to do.
MISTAKES DO NOT DEFINE WHO YOU ARE
Read this and believe it: YOU ARE NOT YOUR MISTAKES. A mistake is an error in judgement. If our conscience is still intact, we know when we’ve made a mistake, or hurt someone. However, if we keep doing the same mistake, it’s not a mistake any more, it’s a choice. If you experience remorse, and you’re sorry for what you’ve done, then THAT shows the type of person you are.
FORGIVE YOURSELF TODAY
You can do it! I believe that you do want to change, and that you are sorry. I believe that you DO want to forgive yourself and move on. I believe that you are tired of beating yourself up. I believe that you are ready for a change today! Drop your rock off into the ocean and let your past sink beneath the waves. Those days are gone.
MY PRAYER FOR SELF FORGIVENESS
Dear God, thank you for your gift of grace. Thank you that you are always willing to forgive me even when I don’t deserve it. Please help me to forgive myself from the sins of my past, so that the enemy cannot use it to bring me down with guilt and shame. Please give me the grace to unconditionally forgive everyone who has hurt or offended me. Please free me from all hate, bitterness, anger, revenge and help me to extend forgiveness towards others, and especially myself. Amen.
I am also attaching this picture of a prayer of forgiveness that I found (but did not write)
CHOOSE TO FORGIVE YOURSELF RIGHT NOW!
I challenge you today!