When It’s Time to Forgive Ourselves
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
I have lately heard people blame themselves. Sometimes the blame takes the form of declarative statements: “This injury is my fault.” Sometimes the blame is in the form of a question: “Would this sudden illness have happened to her if she hadn’t been visiting me?” Sometimes the blame borders on despair: “I’ll never be able to change even if I want to please God.”
At times our blame for a situation is legitimate; we are at fault, whether on accident or on purpose. Other times, though, we had nothing to do with a situation, and to take on blame is just borrowing trouble and shifting focus from God’s help and glory. No matter what, to continue to wallow in blame and guilt means we are not listening to God.
One of my friends said when she starts listening to doubts or blame in her head, she goes straight to God, and says, “What do you say about this?” His loving voice can straighten out the truth that gets bent in our minds. I tried this approach recently when I was feeling full of failure about my diet and weight. “Lord, what do you say about this?” What I heard was the verse, “Everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23). He was not angry. He was teaching. He does not wish to paralyze me in my own guilt. He wishes to have me move forward in His freedom. Though this example is small compared to what many people are going through, the principles are the same no matter the size we see our issue. Another wise mentor told me to listen to how loving God’s voice is with us; we can know it is His voice by this love.
Often the way we talk to ourselves or about ourselves does not honor the magnanimity of what God has done for us. Instead, the way we talk to ourselves or the lies we listen to and perpetuate keep us in chains. Once a friend asked me if I thought she was a failure of a human being. I stopped the car and said, “Would you ever say that to another person?” She said no. I asked, “Then why would you talk about yourself in that way?” God would never say that about us, that we are failures.
Lord, what do you say about this? “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant” (Hebrews 9:14-15). How he longs to set us free. How he longs for us to claim our redemption. How he longs for us to allow the ransom He has paid.
What would it look like to walk forward believing we are equipped to serve the living God, that we are set free, that we may receive the promised eternal inheritance? Our debts are forgiven. Lord, what do you say about this?
Sacred Story is honored to have Elizabeth Eades as a guest contributor this month. Elizabeth is a writer and English teacher in San Antonio. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time with family.