Choosing Forgiveness (Learning to Love Myself)

I had this unexpected epiphany recently:

I realized that I needed to forgive myself.

As a Christian, forgiveness seems like a pretty basic concept.

God forgave us, so we must forgive others. We need to let go of offense, get rid of bitterness, and release to others the grace we have been shown.

It’s one of those seemingly simple Sunday School concepts that comes back to bite you when you’re an adult.

Forgiveness is difficult.

First of all, it’s difficult because you have to be self-aware.

You can’t let go of offense unless you are aware that you are offended.

That may sound simple, but I’ve come to realize that I’m very good at hiding my feelings from myself. Sometimes it’s one big sweep under the rug after a trauma. My survival instinct tells me I can’t handle it, so down it goes. Other times, it happens in bits and pieces: One hurtful word here, one slight snub there, and before I know it, a huge monstrosity is hiding just under the surface.

Second, it’s difficult because you have to make an unnatural choice.

Forgiveness goes against your pride, your sense of justice, and probably your emotions. The only way to really be capable of this radical act is by being on the receiving end first.

When we are wronged, we want an apology. We want to see remorse, receive a promise of changed behavior. We may even want to see the person punished.

But even without any of those things, forgiveness is the right choice.

For your health and freedom.

So back to my epiphany.

One evening not too long ago, I did an unforgiveness purge. I went through this whole list of people I hadn’t even realized I harbored bitterness towards. Whoever came to mind, I forgave. I didn’t justify their actions to convince myself to let go, I simply chose to. Plain and simple.

The exercise was a lot more emotional than I expected.

And then, I felt God whisper that there was one more step left to take. I needed to forgive myself.

Forgive myself? For what?

The first thing that came out of my mouth was, “I forgive myself for not being perfect.” And I started to cry.

That’s when I realized that I have not been kind to myself lately.

Loving yourself is important.

There is something to be said for self-love. I’ve probably said it before, but I’m going to say it again: Loving yourself is important.

Jesus said the most important commandments were to love God and to love others as yourself. Love God. And love others.

As yourself.

What is self-love?

It’s not self-absorption, it’s not selfishness, and it’s not self-indulgence.

Self-love is simply being kind to yourself. Showing yourself grace when you make mistakes, when you disappoint yourself, when you get lost. Self-love is encouraging yourself, choosing to affirm the good instead of focus on the bad. It’s forgiving yourself––not defining yourself by your mistakes.

It’s treating yourself the way God treats you. If He’s willing to forgive and forget your sin, then you probably should, too.

If God is willing to forgive and forget your sin, you probably should too. Click To Tweet

Sometimes I have a standard for myself that is different than God’s.

One thing I’m still learning is to submit to His standard.

I wanted the performance, meeting, or conversation to be perfect, and it wasn’t. So I’m tempted to be negative about it. But His view is completely different. He sees my sincerity, He sees my boldness, He sees how much progress I’ve made. He sees the way I faced my fears or restrained my anger. He magnifies the few amazing moments that happened, no matter how small or brief.

He values the heart. He affirms the process. And He always knows a new beginning is possible, if needed.

Slowly but surely, I’m learning to see the way He does. Because of the way He treats me, I’m learning to not only forgive others, but also show grace to myself. And it changes everything. That’s the power of love. It changes everything.

.

.

Need a Jumpstart?
I'm here to lend a hand!

Whether you're feeling far from God or are simply hungry to go deeper with Him, Elizabeth's 5-part email series is for you. It's designed to nudge you forward in your relationship with your Guide.

Enter your email below to receive the exclusive email series Jumpstart Your Journey (5 days of bite-sized ways to connect with God) and to be the first notified of new content on this blog.

For more details, click here.

I promise to keep your email safe from spammers!

Posted by

Elizabeth is an American living in South Korea who believes in destiny, miracles, and living life intentionally. She holds to simple faith in a complex world, values the beauty of the everyday, and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is always learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace.

Add your thoughts