By Chris WittsWednesday 14 Aug 2013Morning Devotions with Chris WittsUncategorizedReading Time: 0 minutes
I have a feeling many people today are burdened down with a sense of not being able to forgive themselves for something they did,possibly a long time ago. It’s not the sort of thing you hear others talking about,but I think I’m not far off the mark. We might call this “getting off your guilt trip”,or “I can’t forgive myself”. One little boy was asked to define guilt. He said he wasn’t quite sure what it was, but he thought it had something to do with feeling bad when he kicked girls! Perhaps that child like response sums it up very nicely. Or the pregnant lady cooked her husband a nice coconut-cream pie. After a couple of days he had only eaten half of it. One day she was cleaning the table and decided to take a bite of the pie. But you know how it is … one bite led to another,and before long she had eaten the whole pie. Feeling guilty,she knew she had to either admit her guilt . . . or cover it up. There was only one thing to do . . . She baked a new pie and ate half of it to make it look like the original! I think we soon realize in life that sometimes if we don’t own up to things,we’re forces to cover up things. And that can get you into trouble.
Do you mind if I ask you a question? .. .Do you really believe that you have the right to forgive yourself’? I’ve said this before,but,I think many people live in fear that if people really knew them — their thoughts,their secrets,their past — then others would want us to crawl away in shame. We know what we’re really like on the inside. We know our fears,our insecurities,the people we like — or don’t like. We also know our behaviours,past and present,and we struggle to forgive ourselves!
We all hurt ourselves. Unfairly,too,and sometimes deeply. I’m sure that most of us,if we could turn back the hands of time,would change something in our past if it were in our power. I know I would. The things that most of us would want to forgive ourselves for are those things that brought unfair harm to others. We probably have hurt others. But we can’t change the past .. What’s done is done.
We do not have to be bad people to do bad things. If only bad people did bad things to other people we would live in a pretty good world. And the more decent we are,the more we feel our pain for the unfair hurts we caused. The pain we cause other people becomes the hate we feel for ourselves. And we serve as our own judge and jury. We convict and sentence ourselves to harsh sentences,mostly in secret. We subject ourselves to our own passive hatred; we look in the mirror and have a very difficult time seeing anything worthwhile to like,much less to love. For others,the self-hate is so strong that it is often acted out in self-destructive ways; they withdraw from community,substance abuse,or even suicide.
But it’s not all gloom or doom .. do you know that God’s steadfast love begins to work its way with us. I mentioned a few minutes ago the fear that many people have of not being loved or accepted — especially if people really knew us. The good news of the gospel is that God promises to always love us. This is David’s great hope in Psalm 13 when he cries out,”How much longer,Lord,will you forget about me? How long will you hide?” Then comes those tremendous words in verses 5 and 6: “I trust your love,and I feel like celebrating because you rescued me. You have been good to me,Lord,and I will sing about you”. When we face ourselves honestly and openly; when we can admit what we’ve done,call it what it is,know that,even if no one else loves us,God loves and forgives us,then we can start putting the broken pieces of our lives back together again.
I don’t think you will always know exactly when you have forgiven yourself. Healing may come slowly,but better a snail’s pace than standing still,feet sunk in the cement of self-accusations and hatred.
You and I cannot be whole and healthy people,either,until we are honest with ourselves.
We cannot really experience inner healing until we turn our lives over to God and ask for His forgiveness. And we can’t forgive others until we have learned how to forgive ourselves. But until we are able to,in the words of Alcoholics Anonymous,”make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves,” none of the above can happen. May He help us to do that.