Tag Archives: forgiving yourself

Discover God’s Forgiveness in “Starting Over”

I’m convinced that one of the most overlooked truths in the Bible is God’s absolute and unconditional forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is assumed but not embraced. Most believers are afraid to admit this allowing unresolved guilt to eat away at them.

Finding God’s Forgiveness

God's forgiveness

Discover God’s Forgiveness

As a result of failing to understand and accept God’s forgiveness, people fall into a variety of legalistic traps. Their guilt pushes them away from God and into a hamster-wheel of performance, working daily to please God and people, hoping for their acceptance.

Sound familiar?

To counteract this Christian secret I have written a short book called: Starting Over...finding God’s forgiveness when you find it hard to forgive yourself.

The book lays out in plain language why God forgave us and how he did it. My hope is that after people read this book they will understand God’s forgiveness in a way that will convince them of its reality. I want to help people push past their regret and start living the new life that God has for them.

One early reviewer wrote:

I’ve always struggled feeling worthy of God’s love. I can honestly say that after reading “Starting Over” that I feel a stronger connection with God and his gift of forgiveness.

Get a Free Copy of “Starting Over”

I’m hoping to launch the book by Easter (April 16th) but I need some help. I’d like 50 people to read it and then post a review on amazon.com the day I launch it.

If you are willing to help me out, I’ll send you a free PDF copy today when you email with your request. On launch day you will get the Kindle version for free.

The book takes less than two hours to read. Have we got a deal? Email me here to request your copy. I’ll notify you when the book launches. You can also help me out by sharing this post on Facebook. A few of your friends might appreciate the chance to read the book.

Thanks for your help!

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Forgiving Yourself – Break the Vow

forgiving yourself

Forgiving yourself – break the vow

This is the last in a series of six posts on forgiving yourself. Be sure to track back to read all  the posts.

One reason many people can’t forgive themselves is because  they made a vow to not forgive themselves.  They decided that their actions were so immoral or reprehensible that they could never forgive themselves.  This is their way of punishing themselves in a manner equal to their offense.

Forgiving Yourself – The Power of a Vow

I’ve learned from my counseling experience that vows are very powerful acts of the will.  They are stronger than a belief or a decision.  They act almost like a one way ticket in the mind.  In other words, once you make a vow, there’s almost no going back. People who make vows cease to decide in certain situations.  The vow predisposes them to act without the benefit of reason.

For example; if I was hurt by a good friend in the past, I may vow to never have a close friend again.  That decision might protect me in some ways from being hurt but it also cuts me off from any level of intimacy with potential friends.

Imagine that God sends a friend into my life to help me, encourage me, comfort me or love me but my reaction is an immediate wall, pushing them away. I won’t have anything to do with them because I chose years ago, in the vow, to never have a close friend again. It’s  like a switch is flipped in my brain preventing me from even allowing a friendship to happen. I’m not open to it.

The same thing happens when it comes to forgiving yourself. People vow to never forgive themselves.  They may not even realize what they have done or what is happening. They don’t understand the power  the vow has in their life to keep them from experiencing self-kindness.

Forgiving Yourself – Breaking the Vow

Because of this it’s important to break the vow.  I can’t say what takes place when this happens…if it’s emotional, or psychological or spiritual or a little of all three.  But something happens. I’ve seen it. When people choose to break a vow it’s like their mind is suddenly given back the ability to choose.

Let’s use my example again. In the past I might flat-out reject the kindness of a potential friend.  After I break the vow, there is a split second of choice where I have the ability to consider the possibility of allowing myself to experience the closeness of a friendship again. In the same way, if you break the vow to not be forgiven, you will finally be open to at least consider stopping your self-punishment and allowing good things to happen.

How do you break a vow?

Breaking a vow is an act of the will before God.  So pray something like this:

Father, I realize that I’ve made a foolish vow.  Looking back, I made it out of self-protection.  But now I see that it’s no longer helping me.  It’s hurting me.  So Father, I take back my vow to never forgive myself.  I break the vow and choose to reopen my mind and heart to everything that you have for me.  Forgive me for the years I’ve wasted by being closed off to your forgiveness.  Soften my heart to the truth of your forgiveness.  Let it seep into the deepest part of my being and heal me of my brokenness. In the split seconds when I have the chance to choose or reject your forgiveness, please empower me to receive it and allow good things to happen once again. Thank you Father. Amen.

I discuss vows in my book Healing the Hurts of Your Past.

Question: What kind of vows have you made to protect yourself? Leave your comment below.

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Forgiving Yourself – Consider the Lie

This is part five of a series looking at how to forgive yourself. Be sure to track back and read the earlier posts.  If you find that you are unable to forgive yourself you have probably believed some lie at a deep level of your being.

Some possible lies are:

Forgiving Yourself

Forgiving Yourself

  • I’m not worthy of being forgiven
  • God can’t love me after what I’ve done
  • I’m disqualified
  • I should give up
  • I need to punish myself
  • I have nothing to offer

I wrote about lie-based thinking in my book Healing the Hurts of Your Past .  If you are convinced of your low worth then it only makes sense that you will look to punish yourself every chance you get. Forgiving yourself is much too kind of an act for a worthless person.

This is what I wrote in Healing the Hurts of Your Past

How do we treat garbage? Not very well. Why? Because it has no value to us. We toss it in a bag. We toss the bag into the trunk of our car. And then we toss it in a dumpster or in the landfill. In the same way, if you really think that you are worthless, you aren’t going to treat yourself with any value. We do this in a variety of ways…

  • Accepting the inferior. Have you ever known someone who was in an abusive relationship? You beg and plead with them to leave it and when they finally do you are thrilled. Now they can find a healthy person. But then, to your shock, within a week they are in another abusive relationship. Why do they do that? Because they don’t think they deserve anyone better. But they don’t limit this behavior to relationships. They accept inferior jobs, inferior service at stores, inferior food at restaurants and inferior workmanship from contractors. They can’t find it in them to demand better because they are convinced that they don’t deserve it.
  • Sabotage. Sabotage is when you actually get something good in life but you find reasons to reject it. If you are given a nice present you might “accidentally” break it or lose it. If you find someone who really loves you, you might betray them or reject them before they reject you. If you land a great job you might get drunk and skip work for three days, hoping that they’ll fire you. Losing something good is painful but it is not as painful as the shame you feel for having things you don’t deserve.

Forgiving Yourself Involves Knowing the Truth

In Healing the Hurts of Your Past I mention four other ways that we mistreat ourselves. We could add “not forgiving yourself” to this list as well.  The book goes into detail as how to address these lies but the essence is that you find freedom when you come to know and experience the truth (versus the lies) of how God values you. When you are able to grasp God’s view of you then forgiving yourself becomes a possibility.

I have one last post on forgiving yourself to share in a couple of days.

Question: What lies have you believed that have kept you from forgiving yourself?  Leave your comment below.

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The benefit of NOT forgiving yourself

Forgiving Yourself

Forgive Yourself

This is part four in my series on how to forgive yourself. Track back to read more. Today I want to look at two factors that keep you from forgiving yourself.

What are you getting by not forgiving yourself?

One day I was teaching a small group about God’s forgiveness and the question came up about self-forgiveness. A girl said she couldn’t forgive herself.  She said, “Remy, I don’t have any trouble believing that God forgives me. I just can’t forgive myself”.  I’ve heard this many times. I started to give her my standard answer but then out of the blue a question came to me.   I asked her; “What are you getting by not forgiving yourself? In other words, “What benefit do you receive by not forgiving yourself?”

She looked shocked, like she was “busted” or exposed by my question.  She paused a minute and said; “If I forgave myself I’d feel the need to change my lifestyle. By not forgiving myself it’s like I have permission to feel sorry for myself and use it to justify using drugs.”

Bingo. The clarity that she got in that moment was amazing.  My question caused her to see the truth behind her inability to forgive herself.  The truth was; she wasn’t unable to forgive herself. She was unwilling to change her lifestyle and the forgiveness issue was simply a good “cover” or excuse.  My question helped her see the true issue and forced her to deal with the question; Do I really want to change?

Since that encounter I often ask that question of people who can’t forgive themselves. The truth is; many times people are “getting” something by not forgiving themselves.

If you are having trouble forgiving yourself could it be that you are receiving a benefit that forgiving yourself would cause you to lose?  If you are willing to reflect and be honest you might find the real reason that you have trouble forgiving yourself.

I have two more posts about forgiving yourself. Consider subscribing to this blog so you don’t miss them.

Question: What other benefits do you think people might get from not forgiving themselves? Leave your comment below.

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Forgiving Yourself: Five Reasons You Should

Forgiving yourself is hard to do.  This is part three of a series on forgiving yourself. forgiving yourself

Today I want to look at five reasons that forgiving yourself is so important.

1. Forgiving yourself can be a defining moment in your life.

So often not forgiving yourself is a form of self punishment. If God won’t punish you then you have to do it. But what if you took that energy and put it into something positive? Instead of beating yourself up, what if you used your failure as a turning point? Use your failure as the motivating factor you’ve needed to put your life on track.

2. Forgiving yourself adds value to the world.

Refusing to forgive yourself is incredibly self-centered. You think you are doing the world a favor by punishing yourself. But in reality you are only drawing more attention to yourself.  You are only adding to your past failure. If you regret your past then why do you want to add to the regret?

When you forgive yourself you change that. You turn the tide. Now, instead of taking something from the world you are adding back. You are making a contribution. The longer you wait the less contribution you can make.

3.  Forgiving yourself reclaims your story for good.

When you refuse to forgive yourself it’s like you embrace the past.  You choose to accept a bad snapshot in time as your eternal identity. In forgiving yourself you let go of the past and create a new future. You tell a new story…a better story.

4. Forgiving yourself can bring you close to God.

Grace is an amazing thing. You can keep yourself at a distance from grace and stay the same for the rest of your life. Or you can accept God’s grace and let it change you.  As a result you encounter the living God. How cool is that?

5. Forgiving yourself can be a transforming experience.

Everything I’ve listed here speaks of transformation. I’m reading Jerry Sitser’s book, A Grace Disguised.  It’s a book on loss and grace. He makes a powerful statement:

The experience of loss (read failure) doesn’t have to be the defining moment in our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss.  It is not what happens to us that matters so much as what happens in us. (from the front cover)

…your failure can actually lead to a life changing transformation.

What this means is that your failure can actually lead to a life changing transformation. Imagine your funeral. People reflect on your life and say, “Everything turned around after their big failure. That was their defining moment. It was like they became a new person.” Isn’t that what you want them to say? Do you want them to lament your life saying, “Their failure defined them. They never recovered. It’s so sad.” Is that the legacy you want to have?  It’s your choice. It’s up to you. By forgiving yourself you can turn the page and write a great story.

I have more to say about forgiving yourself. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss it! When you do I’ll send you my free e-book, “Forgiven…once and for all”.

Question: What are other reasons for forgiving yourself? Leave your comment below.

Learn more about how to forgive in my book, STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships.

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Forgiving Yourself – Don’t Add to the Pain

Forgiving yourself is often the hardest thing to do. This is part two in a series of posts.

Forgiving Yourself

Forgiving Yourself – Don’t Add to the Pain

Sometimes people refuse to forgive themselves as an act of self punishment.  If  God won’t punish them then they need to do it! But when they refuse to forgive themselves, they only add to the pain of their offense.  They take a bad situation and make it worse.

Not Forgiving Yourself Means Becoming Less of a Person

One of the effects of not forgiving yourself is that you become less of a person.  What I mean is you weren’t designed to live with guilt.  It weighs on you and eats away at you. What you need to get you back on track is forgiveness but you’ve rejected it. Instead, you’ve chosen to pay for your failure on the installment plan; one regret at a time.

Wasn’t what you did bad enough?  Why do you want to perpetuate that dark history by keeping it alive through regret and self punishment?

It’s like going to a restaurant.  Imagine that I go in and see you eating a meal. Out of kindness I tell the waitress to add your meal to my bill.  But you reject my kindness.  Even though I paid for it, you insist on paying for it again. That’s what happens when you reject God’s forgiveness.  Jesus paid for your sin once, but you feel the need to keep paying for it, over and over again.  How foolish is that?

Not Forgiving Yourself Robs Your Loved Ones

Not only do you add to the pain of your life, you add to the pain of those you love because you aren’t allowing yourself to be fully alive to them.  In essence, you cheat them out of the person that you are supposed to be for them.  When you punish yourself you punish them too.

Forgiving Yourself Allows Transformation to Begin

You may never be able to right your wrong, but you can live well and stop the negative effects of guilt in your life.  Forgiving yourself means leaving the past in the past and showing the world the power of God’s transforming love and forgiveness.

I’ve always liked the emphatic words from the book of Hebrews…

By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14

Jesus’ death made me perfect forever. Period. End of story.

Forgiving yourself means leaving the past in the past and showing the world the power of God’s transforming love and forgiveness.

Two people in the Bible show a stark contrast in terms of receiving God’s forgiveness: Peter and Judas.  They both failed Jesus by denying him. Judas couldn’t forgive himself and committed suicide while Peter went on to lead the church after forgiving himself. No one thinks of Peter as a failure. We think of him as a great church leader. Forgiving himself allowed Peter to live a totally new life.

The same can be said of you.  Leave your past by forgiving yourself.  Then move on to become the person God made you to be.

Question: How have you added to the pain of your past? Leave your comment below.

Learn more about how to forgive in my book, STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships.

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Forgiving Yourself – part one

Forgiving Yourself

Forgiving yourself is one of the hardest things to do.

I finished teaching on God’s forgiveness and felt pretty good about it. I presented what I thought was an “iron-clad” case for why God’s forgiveness is free and unconditional. When I asked for questions Angie said, “I understand God’s forgiveness. I don’t have a problem with that. I just can’t forgive myself.”

Forgiving Yourself

Over the next few posts I want to offer a few suggestions for forgiving yourself. The first one is understanding that we are all failures. It might sound negative but it’s true. We’ve all failed at something. No one is perfect. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Some people insist on beating themselves up. They recognize that everyone fails in life but they believe against all reason that they are the worst of the worst and deserve harsher treatment. But the Bible tells us that…

There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23,24

We’ve all fallen short

We are all in the same boat. We have all failed God and fallen short of his standard of perfection. I heard it described once as comparing an Olympic gold medalist swimmer to a novice swimmer.  In a pool, the Olympian stands out against the novice.  But put them both on the shore of California and tell them to swim to Hawaii and they will both fall short.  The size of the ocean is the great equalizer.  And the same is true of us all when compared to God.

In a court room some of our lives may be more illegal than others.  In a church, some of our lives may be more immoral than others.  But when compared to God, none of us measure up to his perfection.  No one can boast and no one can take undue guilt upon them because “there is no difference”.

We’re all freely justified

The second part of the verse I quoted above is equally important. It says that “…we are all justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Yes, we all fail. But more importantly, God forgives us and justifies us; that means he puts us in right standing with himself despite our failure.  It’s free. A gift. And it’s made possible – not because of what we have done – but because of what Jesus did. Who are we to object to what God has decided? 

Forgiveness is for all. It may not make sense or feel right but it’s the truth. We need to bring our thoughts in alignment with what is true.

In another place the Bible says this…

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast…Ephesians 2:8,9

If we are put right with God based on what HE has done then no one can take any credit for being spiritual.  But it’s just as true that no one can deny themselves God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is for all. It may not make sense or feel right but it’s the truth. We need to bring our thoughts in alignment with what is true.

I’ll explore forgiving yourself more in days ahead.

Question: What makes it hard for you to forgive yourself? Leave your comment below.

Learn more about how to forgive yourself in my book, STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships.

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